I have two third-year students who, over the course of the past three years, have made it their prime directive to shock and amaze me…and their escapades have escalated with each passing year. Just try to imagine Abbott and Costello, then picture them together as Junior High School students in the 21st century. Now picture them as Japanese. The resulting picture will probably resemble Yuuji-kun and Tarou-kun. Yuuji is kind of chubby but with the pep and agility of an athlete, like one of those fat comedians that can break dance. Tarou is the straight man who gives the duo balance. He can set anyone up for a prank with the skill of a seasoned pantomime.
I knew from the first time I met them, back when they were 1st year students, that they would be inseparable and a handful. They had already been a popular duo since Elementary school, so Junior High School meant some new audience members (classmates coming from other elementary schools) and fresh teachers to impress. Both just happen to have IQs off the charts so not only are they the class clowns, they also ace tests in almost every subject.
English was a new challenge, however. They came to the school with as much exposure to English as the other students in the class: little to nil. But, they took an immediate liking to me and began from day one demonstrating an intense interest in learning about me and the language I spoke.
And, by intense, I mean they took the initiative like you wouldn’t believe. They are classic examples of why I don’t assume anything about what Japanese people know or don’t know, especially students. They started by not watching but studying English movies and TV shows, especially comedies and rather racy stuff, and getting at me in the hallways to explain to them the meaning of words or running the expressions they’d learned by me to see if they had gotten it right.
That first year, I remember Yuuji stopped me in the hallway one day and said, “Good Morning Loco Sensei! How are you?”
“I’m fine, thank you…and you?” I replied, like I do 1000 times a week to my kids.
“I’m fine, thank you.”
It was just as I had taught him and his classmates a few weeks earlier, straight from the textbook. And I was about to praise him on his voice and diction when Tarou walked by. Yuuji was looking in my face, the perfect expression of a student awaiting a pat on the head, when he turned and saw Tarou like he’d sensed his approach. Suddenly, Yuuji burst out yelling, “You son of a bitch! I ought to kick your ass!”
Tarou turned and hissed like a snake and assumed a battle-ready stance: “You just try it, you fat fuck. I’ll wipe that stupid look off your face!”
I stood there with my mouth open in shock. I’d never seen such aggression from Japanese people except in a K-1 or PRIDE fight. Suddenly they were grappling with one another, and Yuuji got Tarou in a bear hug and was squeezing him, pumping him from the rear like a sodomite, yelling, “how do you like that? Huh? How do you like that?”
An audience of students started to draw near but no one intervened, just stared half-amused half-shocked.
Tarou’s face was turning red so I stepped over and told Yuuji to let him down. In English. That’s when I realized that I understood perfectly everything they’d said because they too had been speaking English.
Yuuji was watching my face and started laughing as he set Tarou down. Tarou still had the crimson hue of someone who had got the air squeezed out of him, but he was laughing, too.
I was speechless. They both nodded like they understood what I hadn’t said: you guys are gifted!
Tarou and Yuuji kept this up for their entire first year of school. Their English was still at a primary level, but they were learning many natural English expressions on their own, and incorporating them into their everyday conversation. Each expression chosen for its shock value and they rarely failed. I’d ask them, as I ask all students everyday, “How’s the weather today?” Most students would say sunny or rainy or cold or cloudy. Some students might rememeber to say “it’s” before the weather condition. Most don’t, regardless of how many times I try to ram it into their heads. Yuuji would say, “it’s cold as a fuck!” and Tarou might say, “Who cares? We’re inside!” With those two you never know what you’re gonna get. Even when I was expecting a trick, they’d figure out a way to catch me off guard, or they’d do nothing and have me second guessing everything. I was their foil.
Their second year, they took to hanging out around the bathrooms between classes with a mob of fans. When I walked past they’d grab me by the crotch and try to drag me into the bathroom. Japanese kids have no qualms about playing grab-ass, no homo hangups like we had back when I was a junior high school student. So, I’m subject to all kinds of sexual assaults when I pass by. One time I let them drag me into the bathroom against my better judgement just to see what they were up to in there. Four of them pulled me in where another 10 or so were standing around like a scene from any American school movie ever made. Only no one was smoking, or drinking, or writing graffiti on the wall, or anything like that. Just a bunch of kids hanging out.
One time I was flung into this mix and the ones who were already in the bathroom froze guiltily or jumped about like I’d caught them doing something. From their behavior I wouldn’t have been surprised to find one of the female students on her knees in one of the stalls giving head. I looked hard but I couldn’ t see, hear or smell anything amiss. So, I figured maybe it was some kind of group masturbation. If shoving their fingers up my ass is ok (koncho) who knows what goes on with these kids in Japan when no adults are watching? I certainly don’t.
“Nani shiteiru?” (What are y’all doing?)
“Nani mo nai yo” (Nothing)
I knew the Japanese word for masturbation so I said: “Yappari…Onanii shiteiru deshou…” (Probably whacking off in here!)
“CHIGAU!!!” (Hell no!!)
Since I’d gotten a rise out of them I figured I must have hit close to home.
Of course, Yuuji thought this was the perfect time for some hijinks. He started pretending to give Tarou a hand job. And Tarou looked perfectly like someone trying to pretend he’s not receiving a hand-job while he is experiencing intense pleasure. I almost fell out laughing.
“The Onanii Brothers!” I called them, and they loved it.
And the name has stuck until this day.
Today, three years later, their skits are much more sophisticated. And much dirtier. You won’t believe what they did to shock me today.
PS: Manzai is Japanese for a comic routine done by a duo