It's Friday and I been thinkin' about this whole teaching experience. Like, there is stuff that is normal to me now, stuff that I accept as my day to day worklife, which is straight up caca-loco. Now, for the time being I only teach at junior highschools (7th, 8th and 9th grades) - but I got a lot of kids and, if you remember your own junior high experience, kids this age are out of their damn heads. Everybody's bodies are doing all sorts of crazy stuff that nobody prepared you for, I mean they told you about it sure, but that in no way prepares you for your own unique rollercoaster ride of hormones and body hair and bits of your body that start rebelling against your will. And to make matters worse they've gone and stuck you in this manic zoo of equally frenzied animals, some of which you desprately feel the need to look cool in front of.
So being taught manditory English is the least of any students concerns right now, which makes matters tricky for me, and on top of this I have to contend with the Japanese student's concept of humor.
Let me just say that as an English and Japanese major I am quite familiar with the ramifications of applying the word "inscrutable" to the Japanese, but man, that is some inscrutable crap they got going on.
On the day to day my job pretty much means putting up with the teasing, often literal, probes of my students. I mean, the kids are always messing with me in little ways because my existence is so incredible to them, and seeing as how I'm sort of this temporary, wacky foreigner whose sole duty is to "make English fun", they have licsence to.
Much of the time they just yammer at me in Japanese, yammer with mischevious intent - they often find this hilarious. E.G. They ask me something all quick like, or purposefully speak in difficult Japanese, and force me to deal with it. I've experimented with responding, not responding, laughingly responding, somberly responding - I still have no idea what to do. It all seems to delight them about equally, and they are undetered in their japes thanks to that twisted tenacity that only the junior high student and the moray eel possess.
Fortunately since I am basically deaf to their harrassment it doesn't put me out as much as all that. So no problem there, but then they'll do weird things like stroke my arms because my arm hair freaks them out. Or stroke my hairy chin. Or poke my pecs to see if I am as rock solid as I appear. Well, okay, I think, their curious, they come from a different culture, this is fine. But then they've got this crazy "humor" here that makes no sense like the girls, the girls especially, are always throwing bizarre jokes at me.
"Debitsu", they yell at me, never bothering too much over the pronunciation of my name, "Suzuki Ichiro is my father!"
Me: "Uh, oh. Okay."
"Debitsu - sensei is my father!"
"Debitsu - you are my father!"
In these situations I just sort of freeze... how do you come back to that one? Do I confirm it, deny it? How do I play to the joke? Is this just half of the joke, is she expecting some crazy come back from me like - "No, you are the Emperor, you are Godzilla!" and then I"m supposed to fling my arms out into some crazy position?
Fortunately, however, the kids are never actually looking for a response to this sort of thing - they just enjoy throwing it at me to see how it works on the wacky foreigner before scarpering off elsewhere
What is much worse is this thing they have called the "kocho", another priceless Japanese "joke". What happens is a kid will run up behind you and try and jab his index fingers up your butt, both his index fingers together. And we're not talking about jabbing just into my butt in general, or into the (pardon my french) butt crack, the goal is for actual anal penetration. Obviously you can only get so far through a pair of pants, but still. I'm serious about this - there is a kid who tries to do this to me. He's got me twice, this was just recently, and now I don't know how to come back at him for it. Do I sock the kid out? Do I return penetration? If I just play it off as a joke, like I've been doing, all the sudden its this big game.
"Whee! Ha ha! Look everyone, David doesn't like us sticking our fingers straight up his butt, now lets all do it!"
What sort of crazy country is this? I mean, if you were telling me a story about a fictional country where kids do that to people for amusment I would look at you gravely serious in the eye and tell you to get real. This is a nation-wide, acceptable game here. There must be court judges, steel magnates, high-ranking government officials, who have cherished memories of doing this in their youth. Perhaps Emperor Hirohito himself had at one time done his level best to violate the rectum of his own sensei, perhaps this something the Japanese respect about him.
But I digress. The integrity of my pants aside, my fear and apprehension over teaching these children has subsided into my daily routine - I walk the halls with an easy smile on my lips, a friendly wave in my hand, and a readiness to spring aside if I feel a scampish anal thrust. This concerns me from time to time, in the darker hours of the night.