Beetles, Weird Questions and My Dietary Habits: Odds and Sods from the School Week
September 18, 2009
– This week’s school isn’t in the boonies by any stretch of the imagination – it’s surrounded by residential neighborhoods and all sorts of suburban conveniences. Yet it is up in the mountains of Nabari, so some strangeness was bound to occur. My first day at the school one of the teachers came up to me stretching out a piece of paper with a big black lump on it. Big black lump turned out to be a beetle. But not a small, cute beetle – one of those scary beasts with two big horn-like things jutting out of its face that should be destroying supply depots, not be in my general area. The teacher found it roaming around in the grass outside the office, and decided the new English assistant would just love to see it up close. I stared at the thing for a good five minutes, anticipating the exact moment it would lunge at me. Thankfully, this never happened – the beetle only moved its head up and down a few times. Later in the day, a big plastic bucket full of murky water and tadpoles appeared in the middle of the room. I have no idea what’s up with nature and this school.
– Met my first Jonas Brother obsessed Japanese teenager this week. She wrote “I LOVE THE JONAS BROS” and “DO YOU KNOW THE JONAS BROS” all over her worksheet. I once again weep for my country and what it has done.
– The last school I went to loved asking about my favorite Japanese foods – do you like sushi? Do you like octopus? This school could care less about my preference regarding sashimi and rather worried about my relationship status. Every single class, when given the chance to ask questions, immediately inquired about my girlfriend-status. “Do you have a girlfriend” or “are you single” or “are you married” (what) became commonplace this week. This has led to a very depressing series of worksheets where under the “three things you learned about Patrick” section most students wrote “Doesn’t have girlfriend” or “He is single” or, most painful, “NO GIRLFRIEND.” Yes, all caps. I never knew homework could hurt so much.
– This line of questioning also led to the hands-down most awkward question posed by a student thus far. He wanted to know (surprise surprise) if I had a girlfriend but didn’t know how to say that. Instead of asking the teacher for help, he went with a phrasing he did know: “are you a virgin?” Yikes. In Tokyo they taught us one way to defuse embarrassing questions was to throw them right back at the student – like, if they ask if you have a crush on a teacher you shoot back “do you!” I felt this response wouldn’t be terribly appropriate, so I laughed and moved on.
– Today the teacher who sits next to me in the staff room made an extra sandwich for me because she thinks I don’t eat at lunch. I do eat at lunch! Just…very poorly. Continuing in my college-developed tradition of eating most major meals out of vending machines, I mostly snacked on some yummy chips and a soda at lunch. This is normal for me, though clearly a disturbing dietary trend to both responsible adults and most Child Service agencies. So, a teacher made me a sandwich today and I’m now reevaluating the way I live. This is almost as bad as the time the Burger King cash register dude started referring to me by my first name. God damn, what have I done with my life?
– Did you know you have to cut the wrappers off of soda bottles in Japan? Found that one out the hard way today.