15
Dec
09

Fazing and Hazing in Yokohama pt.2

A little about Matsui-kun.

I remember the first time I met him. I came to the class prepared to do my usual introduction lesson, where I talk about myself, in the simplest English possible, while showing pictures of my family back home in the US. In most cases this is the first interaction with a foreigner so I try to make it a pleasant experience and as entertaining as possible by hamming it up a bit. I always intend to withhold the fact that I know Japanese because once they know that, well, what’s the sense of trying to speak English some of them conclude…that is, those who hadn’t come to that conclusion before they even walked in the door.

But, inevitably, I slip up by responding to something said in Japanese unwittingly or saying something only someone fluent in Japanese would say, or even behaving the way speaking Japanese modifies one’s behavior. Kids pick up on the slightest things.

Matsui-kun picked up on it first.

Matsui-kun is the smallest kid in the class and has the happiest disposition of anyone in the class, maybe any student I’ve ever met; genki (energetic) to the Nth degree. At first glance you get the impression that he’s trying to compensate for his stature with his character,  like some Japanese-version of the Napoleonic complex. Only he does it with a great deal of charm. And, you almost root for him, want him to be successful. He laughs and jokes non-stop and only speaks with the volume on max.  One of those kids you’re more likely to use gentler words like rascal or  mischief-maker than menace or delinquent. Everything except his size reminded me of someone I knew.

It was clear from that first day who the leader of this class was going to be. Most of the students knew each other already having mostly come from the same elementary school, and Matsui-kun had probably been the leader back there, too. I didn’t think about any of this that first day, though. I was too busy trying to make a good first impression to seriously assess the students. But, Matsui-kun…he was assessing me, aloud.

“LOCO SENSEI! YOU CAN SPEAK JAPANESE CAN’T YOU,” he yelled in Japanese with the kind of joviality that is hard to resist, joy in every word.

“A little,” I said, giving my pat answer.

“YOU’RE LYING!” he snapped with a raucous giggle. Then he jumped out his seat and started addressing the class. “HEY EVERYBODY, THIS GUY CAN SPEAK JAPANESE…BETTER WATCH WHAT YOU SAY!”

Takasashi-sensei was there beside me. This was her home room but I could see in her demeanor that she had already relinquished control of this class. Somehow, in the week before this first lesson, Matsui-kun had pulled a coup d’etat and while she remained the figurehead lame duck Empress, he was Shogun. But,don’t think for a moment that this kind of thing is unusual. It isn’t. In Japanese schools, the teachers pretty much let the kids do what the hell they want and because of the respect elements in the culture generally that means study hard and behave accordingly. But, maybe 10% of the time, at least in my experience, there are classes who decide that they’d much rather run amok, and do.

“LOCO SENSEI, HOW DID YOU LEARN JAPANESE?”

Since the cat was out of the bag, I said, “I’ve been living here for 6 years so…”

“…YOU GOT A JAPANESE GIRLFRIEND, RIGHT?”

“…what?? that’s none of your business. Listen, sit down and let’s…”

“…LOCO-SENSEI SUKEBE! (horny / lecher) HA HA HA HA HA HA!”

Everybody laughed. I glanced at Takahashi sensei, again. She turned bright red and started scolding Matsui-kun. Her scolding fell on deaf ears, though. Half the class was held enthralled by Matsui-kun’s audacity while the other half seemed embarrassed or too scared not to laugh. Matsui-kun scanned the room while he held forth from his throne. He apparently siphoned energy from his audience. Then, he turned to me.

“LOCO-SENSEI, GOMEN NE (I’m sorry) Matsui-kun cried at the top of his voice. He jumped up out of his seat again and ran towards me and jumped in my arms. I caught him instinctively, and he gave me the warmest most affectionate hug I’d ever gotten from a student, even warmer than some of the girlfriends I’ve had in Japan. I was dumbfounded. Here was this little rascal in my arms, hugging me about the neck like it was the most natural thing in the world; I actually thought he was going to kiss me on the cheek. He was light as a toddler and I didn’t let him down immediately. It was a moment. We had bonded, somehow. At least I felt something.

And, I realized just then who he reminded me of:

He reminded me of me…when I’m drunk.

Loco

to be continued…

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7 Responses to “Fazing and Hazing in Yokohama pt.2”


  1. December 15, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Ha! Another good read, sukebe-Oyaji! It always put a smile on my face when the classroom banter takes a turn. It isn’t always the smartmouth kid who’s responsible.

    From out the mouths of babes: Rubi-sensei, Rubi-sensei….. Erm, why is your skin black?

    Rubi-sensei: So when people look at me they think of warm, rich chocolate.

    Teaching assistant: Yes, Rubi-sensei looks delicious. Isn’t Rubi-sensei delicious?

  2. 2 sola
    December 15, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Another great series! I’m looking forward to reading more Loco 🙂

    -S

  3. December 15, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Great articles as usual. Don’t like to be left hanging, but I’m really interested in reading about what happened to Takahashi-sensei in the end. Hope it’s a happy ending.

  4. December 15, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Rubi-san, my compadre, my brother from another mother, thanks as always for your shout!And the laugh, mr. delicious. Some of us are more delicious than others ne LOL

    Sola-san, I do for people like you keep coming back and giving me love outloud. Thanks for the shout.

    Mike-san, once again, thanks for the shout out. I appreciate it. Don’t worry I won’t leave you hanging, and btw this is not history, this is on-going, this is my lufe…the clak incident was thursday last week…so who knows what this fazing and hazing will wrought? Will it be a Happy ending or not-so happy ending? I’ll stay tuned and keep you and my readers abreast of developments is the best I can tell you.
    btw, Mike, how about some SOCS!

    Loco (-;

  5. December 15, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    I made a system in my School where i use fake money as rewards which they can save and buy real stuff. it burns a hole in the pocket but…fuck it..anything to right my wrongs with positive karma is good in my book.

    Anyways..

    I had just had an adult female student teach me the word for virgin (shojo) and my next class was Elementary girls and they had saved some cash and wanted to shop. They were a little short so i told them they could negotiate the prices. Instead of saying Kosho i still had Shojo in my ear and mind so I’m standing there making “me and you” (pointing to them then me) hand gestures while I’m holding cash and I start saying “shojo..shojo” They look stunned and started laughing until they were on the floor in tears yelling “Sukebe”!! It clicked just then how FUCKED UP and yabai that moment was. Thank God they had a sense of humor and didn’t go running to moms with that little gem.

    Good to see you got the “ins’ with the class Shogun. That never hurts 😉

  6. December 16, 2009 at 7:40 am

    Very much enjoyed his post!


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