I have a story to tell you. It happened just over an hour ago. But let`s start at the beginning.
Today began like any other day. I woke up a bit late, rushed to fry bacon while pulling my pants and socks on, and drove 10 minutes to my 8 minute by bike commute to work. After discovering 3/4 of my classes were cancelled due to preparations for Graduation, I spent the morning and afternoon studying Japanese and reading.
Shortly after lunch, preparations for the Graduation ceremony tomorrow reached full steam and the entire school banded together to clean the classrooms, halls, and set everything up in the gym. It was a frenzy of activity, and I bounced around from area to area, chatting with students while helping out with whatever they were doing.
Set up in the gym took the remainder of the afternoon and in between positioning row upon row of chair and tables, I joked and chatted with all my students. It`s been a good year – the students who previously didn`t like me have all come around and my fanclub is now large enough to carry political influence should I see fit to use it. However, the opposite side of the coin with regards to having this kind of rapport with my students is that many of them have become embrazend enough to joke around with me on some rather NSFW topics. I can`t say I mind that much really. I mean I remember being a punk at that age, and anyway, I believe that if I were to evade their comically perverted questioning all the time, My job wouldn`t be as much fun and some of my students wouldn`t be as motivated to interact with me. I`ll explain why.
New and Aspiring JETs and prospective ALTs will be shocked to discover the level of sophistication that Japanese students possess with regards to the carnal knowledge. On any given day, as soon as there is some free time to chat, all the boys come crowding around me to joke around and ask me questions, most of them a little risque (read: completely, surprisingly, and rather impressively perverted).
On one hand, maybe I should be actively discouraging this and playing the dumb card. But..well..on the other hand, it is freaking hilarious when a group of students crowd around me and nominate one of their fellow peers to ask/say “Your pen, is, um..er. how big?” or “Do you play essuh-ee-ekesuh, like..eto..eto..everyday?” or “Please, Mr. Aporro, raise stick.”. Even more hilarious is that after I give them blank stares of non-understanding, they will discuss among themselves how to make the correct sentence, and then will ask again in perfect english. Hey, if this is what it takes to encourage my students to use English, then so be it! I can always reframe the conversation anyway (My favourite way to evade is to turn the tables on a student is to ask them which girl in the classroom they like and tease them incessantly in front of their friends.)
However, what`s even more amazing than this brazen cultural difference is that these are the students who always give me the “Eigo wakanai!!!” (I don`t understand english!) stock line during class, and they suddenly turn into impressively eloquent lotharios under pressure to come up with something dirty. Groupthink at its finest, ofcourse. I am always torn between congratulating them on their tenacity, resourcefulness and raw english ability and bopping them on the head for being a bunch of baka hentai (stupid pervs). Usually I end up doing both. Nevertheless I am proud of these punks, although I would never admit it.
Anyway back to my story. So today was one of those conversations.
I was having a particularly interesting conversation with one of my students (mortal enemies), a ni-nensei whose peers call him “Ichiban Baka Hentai” (Number One Pervert Moron of the school) or “Ero-Sama” (Lord Ero). We were talking about his dream, which is to open the Number One Adult Video Company in the WORLD (my kids are charmingly ambitious huh). Conversational content nonwithstanding, I was quite pleased with how far his English ability had come in the past year, and so I had obviously let down my guard..because..without any warning whatsoever, mid conversation, he reaches over and pats my crotch.
Pokes the boys,
the frank n` beans,
the golden scepter and family jewels.
He had been attempting this throughout the year (WHAT IS WITH THESE PUNKS IN THIS COUNTRY), but due to my special gaijin-sense, I was always able to evade since his little nublet skills are no match for my jedi powers. However I guess I had really let me guard down since it was the day before graduation. Without missing a beat, he nods his head towards a group of female students listening in on this whole ridiculous scenario and remarks “Hm. Sugoi.” (Wow. It`s great.).
As I slowly crank my head while processing what just transpired, his friend (or apprentice??) sneaks up from behind , goes for gold and in one swift motion successfuly delivers a kancho to one of the most troublesome locations imaginable. It was pretty devastating. Probably the worst Kancho in recorded history.
Do you know where the taint is? If you don`t, you probably just googled it. Yes, this just happened. Japan: +2, Apollo: -999
Prospective applicants to the JET Programme with an aversion to comic mischief sekuhara need not apply for the upcoming programme cycle.
Anyway, I`m pretty sure the normal human response would have been to curl up into a ball and rock back and forth in shame while waiting to die of humiliation, but not for this Apollo. No, your intrepid narrator held his ground, and I chuckled like I didn`t feel anything. I nonchalantly glanced back and said “Oh, You`re dead.” and bopped him and Ero-sama on the head with a rolled up newspaper, and berated them on their ero-related incompetence. Public failure is one of the most embarassing things a Japanese person can experience and it was important to shun these punks in front of his peers.
…However…I will have my revenge.
It will be sweet. Those punks will not get away with bruising my ego (among other things) that lightly!!!
…Yep, just another day at work.
DISCLAIMER: In Japan, kids are punks. I rough house with my students all the time, and I think it improves the relationship between the school`s ALT and the students when the ALT can take a joke and dish them out too. It`s really just in good fun. Before I came to Japan, I heard of this stuff happening and also of ALTs freaking out because their precious little sensibilities were too rocked by some of the more brazen cultural differences. Admittedly, there is a line that they sometimes cross, but it`s important not to freak out if they inadvertently cross it. I later took these two aside and explained to them in no uncertain terms that there is acceptable and unacceptable levels of behavior.I wrote this out to point out to prospective ALTs that your students might screw around with you or test you. Remember, it`s always you who hold`s the authority, so don`t crack and show weakness.