Monthly Archives: May 2014

Crushing Together for Drink and Food

Another late one, which means another drunk blog. We’ve got to stop meeting like this.

Tonight, as a kind of welcome party for my new colleagues, a few of us headed over to Saitama-city (the capitol of Saitama Prefecture) for the Japan Craft Beer Festival. I had stumbled across this annual event a few years ago when I was on my way to a night class. I had to go to the immigration office nearby and then headed over to a Hawaiian hamburger place. Along the way I stumbled across several kiosks serving exotic beer. Although I’m not a huge beer fan, I do appreciate a good ale and a good stout. I therefore started singing something like “oh sweet mystery of life at last I’ve found thee” but then remembered I was on my way to work. I therefore did some quick math involving time and blood alcohol levels and molecular decay and then got confused by all the math and decided it was best not to drink anything.

This time, though, I arrived early and was immediately freaked out by the crowds. Thousands of people had assembled and most of them had brought tarps to set out on the sidewalk under the trees. Hundreds of them had brought their children and forced them to participate in a large drunken picnic. I bought a beer and some fried chicken from a brewer connected to one of my friends and muscled my way into a place to set my food and drink. One American Style India Pale Ale from Brimmer Brewing later I felt a lot better about the crowd. I went and had dinner and did some shopping and then came back and met my friends. The crowd didn’t get smaller–in defense of the crowd it was a great night to be outside drinking beer.

We then proceeded to drink our way across a good portion of Japan. Craft beers, or micro-breweries are a relatively new concept in Japan. Before 1994 in order to get a brewing license a brewer had to produce about 528,000 barrels of beer. After 1994 the amount changed to around 500 barrels and micro-breweries began appearing around the country.

One of the things I like about craft beers is you can drink several and never drink the same flavor. Even the same beer from the same brewer can vary from year to year. The major brewers in the USA are kind of like McDonalds: the menu is pretty much always the same always tastes the same and you pretty much know what you’re going to get. Craft beer is more risky, mostly because the brewers actually take risks.

The second beer was a House India Pale Ale from Shiga Kogen Brewery. It had a strong hoppy flavor that created an instant craving for salt. We then got a four pack from Hakone Brewery. We liked them all but the stout was too heavy for a summer night. We then experimented with WineRed from Virgo Beer. This was a fruity, wine flavored gruesome concoction that reminded me of a spritzer made with beer. It actually got better as it warmed.

Towards the end, a friend of a friend did a suicide by mixing all the unfinished beers on the railing (we never got a seat; we just seized a portion of the railing). The result was surprisingly tasty, which told me I’d had enough to drink and it was time to go home.

Despite the crowd and the copious amounts of alcohol I didn’t notice any problems. There was one security guard walking around with a glowing baton acting as if he was in charge of the crowd. We all laughed at him because just the drunk foreigners present–and there was one guy there in a pirate outfit–could have ripped him to pieces and then gone for more beer. We didn’t know whether to mock him or buy him a beer.


Leaving There and Coming Back There

About this time 20 years ago, and I may have the timeline messed up, I’d returned to the USA from Albania after a rather unceremonious exit caused by lots of complications stemming from my own remarkable ability to stare at the right thing to do and then not do it because I’m too busy staring at it. I was surprised, though, by a lot of happy/bittersweet surprises.

The night before I left I was given a send off party that was attended by my friends and several people I didn’t realize thought of me as a friend (a very complicated post that; until then refer to my above comments about my ability to stare at the right thing to do and not do it). I don’t remember wanting a party, but everyone I cared about–well, at least the non-Albanians–attended and some of them, as a direct result of a substantial amount of alcohol, serenaded me with Beatles’ tunes rewritten with my name in them. (A film of that night would have served as a great warning about the dangers of alcohol consumption.)

I should also add that I do not recommend you get drunk the night before you travel. I, did, however, emerge in surprisingly good shape.

The first hitch was that my Albanian airlines flight from Tirana was delayed and, surprisingly, it was not fault of the Albanians. Instead bad weather postponed the flight in Macedonia (aka the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia aka FYROM). When I finally left, I didn’t think I’d be sad to see the cobblestone runway get smaller and disappear, but I cried knowing I’d most likely never see it or a lot of the people I knew there ever again.  After I settled down, I had a nice chat with the gentleman traveling in the next seat, and he made my day by questioning the sanity of the exact Peace Corps staff member I’d spent two years having issues with.

I arrived in Zurich feeling surprisingly content only to discover that the delay had caused me to miss my flight and that I’d be stuck in Zurich for the night. Now, as a place to get stuck, Zurich’s not that bad. I got a hotel near the station, paid for, I believe, by the Peace Corps, and tracked down Swiss chocolate and some Cuban cigars. Soon after that, I was back in the USA.

Now, the dirty little secret of coming home after a long time away is that it’s not really home–at least not the one you left. Subtle things have changed: trees have grown out; people have aged; cars have changed; stores have closed; your parents have rented out your room to strangers and you have to sleep in the garage (something like that).

I then had a few months to kill before I started my Ph.D. program at Ole Miss. I went out job hunting and my attitude was the same as Lester Burnham in American Beauty “I’m looking for the least possible amount of responsibility.” Two years of teaching under lots of petty bureaucratic nonsense rules and the constant sense that we volunteers were always on display, made slinging tacos at Taco Tico seem like a great idea. At least until I was made shift manager and that responsibility thing came in to play, along with a short-sleeve oxford style shirt and a clip on tie.

I managed to settle back in and then moved to Oxford, Mississippi where I spent another two years in reverse culture shock before deciding to head to Japan for a couple years. At least I thought it would only be a couple.

Enough is Enough of Enough of That

A phenomenon that fascinates me is the idea of doing something to the point you can’t do it anymore. I’ve mentioned before that when I was growing up I always drank sugared tea, usually with a centimeter of undissolved sugar at the bottom of the glass. Then one day I couldn’t drink tea with sugar. I don’t remember getting sick drinking sugared tea and I don’t remember getting sick on something sweet. In fact, I have no problems eating sweets (unfortunately).

I suspect that what happened is that one day I just decided I’d had enough sugared tea. I’d overdone the sugar to the point that I just got tired of it. I think it’s this way because I’ve experienced the same attitude with a lot of things.

I can play a computer game for hours and hours on end every day for weeks–occasionally stopping to eat and answer calls to engage in necessary bodily functions–and then, all of a sudden, I never want to play that game again. Sometimes it’s because I’ve mastered the game, like say Civilization II and Civilization: Call to Power; but sometimes  I’m playing deliberately addicting internet games that are never the same. I play them until I can’t play them anymore.

I’ve experienced the same thing with authors. I used to be a big Stephen King fan–heck I even read Danse Macabre–and still consider the original release of The Stand to be one of my favorite books and a book that’s influenced my writing. The original opening was simple and brilliant: a bunch of friends hanging out at a gas station and an accident happens that changes the world. Years later, I got about a third of the way into It and suddenly couldn’t read Stephen King anymore. I never finished It and haven’t read any fiction he’s done since.

I also get tired of podcasts. I’ll listen to a dozens of podcasts by one person and then stop and never listen to it again. In that case, I think I get tired of the podcast’s format.

I suppose part of the phenomenon is that the author or podcast or game or sugar satisfy a specific need; distraction, distraction, distraction, sugar craving. Mastering the game becomes its own goal and it buries all other goals. You feel really smart at mastering something, even it’s not really something important. Stephen King novels are awesome until you see another bully, another group of geeks, a campy scene where a statue of Paul Bunyan turns into a giant clown. (That’s the exact moment I stopped reading Stephen King.) Internet games finally seem silly.

There’s also a moment where you realize how much time you’ve wasted. And you realize it’s time to move on. To the next distraction, of course.


I Can See Blurry Now the News is On

One of my favorite quirks of Japanese TV is its absurd dedication to privacy and secrecy. The dedication is serious enough that the people involved seem to forget television is a visual medium.

The first thing they do is that they crop the neighbors when they interview them for the “He seemed like such a nice guy for a man who walked around his yard in tighty whities and a gas mask and carried a machete.” quote. They usually focus on the chest, even if the person volunteered to speak. Sometimes they even disguise the voice.

The next example is that, for some reason, TV news is not allowed to show handcuffs on an arrested suspect. I’ve been told this is so that people don’t think the suspect is guilty. Keep in mind, the suspect is stepping out of a police car, is surrounded by dozens of police officers and is being escorted into a police station, but if we see handcuffs, we might think he’s guilty. (Or as my friend Charles once said “Perhaps he’s discovered the cure for cancer…”)

Why is this crim, er, man smiling?

Really, does the mosaic make this crimi-, er this man, look innocent?

The third thing they do is that they will blur out almost every thing on a screen to hide the faces of bystanders and to hide the story’s location. Sometimes one fragment of the screen will be clear or they will highlight the important bit, so that you can follow that something important is happening even if you can’t see it.

Very important things are happening here, as you can clearly see.

Very important things are happening here, as you can clearly see.

One of my favorite news broadcasts of all time was a sting operation to catch a serial train groper in the act. As bait, they used a female police officer dressed in a school girl outfit and pretty much every one in the car was a police officer. As the events unfolded every centimeter of the train car was blurred to hide the location and the inside was blurred to hide the identities of the police, the few non-police and the suspect. The actual crime occurred under a different colored blur and then there was lots of shouting–with computer distorted voice–from out of the blur and then the blur moved out onto the train platform.

The effect was the same as listening to news on a radio whilst watching the static on a dead TV channel and calling it TV news. And yet it was oddly fascinating.

Popcorn Drinks and Bunkers in the Mall

One of the things I miss from my childhood is the time we spent back in Salina, Kansas. This is not because Salina is a great place: at best it’s okay, but it had, at one point, four great movie theaters, two okay ones and a several cells in a bunker in the mall.

My friend Darren and I, and several boys from the neighborhood used to raid the Mid-State Mall (because it was in walking distance of my grand-parents’ house). We also used to get dropped off at the Fox Theater or the Vogue downtown. On occasion we were dropped off at the twin bunkers in Sunset Plaza.

I remember seeing Smokey and the Bandit several times, and could pretty much quote it from memory, including the parts a young lad of 11 was not supposed to know. I knew it well enough to fill in the edited parts when it was shown on television. (It’s “I’m gonna barbeque your ass in molasses” not “I’m gonna barbeque (tinny echoey sounds)YOU(end tinny echoey sounds) in molasses.” You can’t fool me.) I also saw Star Wars as many times as I could. I also remember seeing The Bad News Bears a couple times and Escape to Witch Mountain. (I also remember having a crush on Kim Richards.)

After I moved back to Salina, Darren and I saw a lot more movies, especially because we could drive (well, he could; I could, eventually, sort of. Long story.) I remember having one odd ritual: I’d never pick up the popcorn and start eating until until after the movie itself had started. I always had this vague sense that if I started eating too soon, it would guarantee a bad movie.

At that point in our movie going history, when faced with choosing between a couple of movies we wanted to see, our main deciding factor was “which theater had the best popcorn?” This meant we saw Cobra at the Vogue and The Return of the Living Dead at the Fox–now Stiefel Theater because they had the best popcorn in town. I also think we saw Eyes of Fire at the vogue (which is a movie that haunted me for years because I couldn’t remember the title or anything about it other than I’d seen it and it was a horror movie set in 18th century America.)

Eventually, though, one company acquired all the theaters in town and began slowly choking off all but the bunkers in the Central Mall. The best movies got put there whilst the Fox got American Ninja 2–which I think was the last movie shown there. (In defense of the owners, they proved conclusively that people didn’t just go to the Fox for the popcorn and the ambience.)

The bunkers were comfortable and had great sound, but the popcorn was only okay.

Eventually I moved to Japan and was faced with 18 dollar ticket prices. I still remember buying my first ticket and, upon hearing the price, telling the ticket seller “No, I only want one ticket.” to which she replied “and I only want 1800 yen for it” (something like that). My friend Charles and I would take special trips when the first of the month fell on Saturday for Sunday because all theaters in Japan drop their prices to $10 on those days. We saw, in one day, L.A. Confidential (and then made the mistake of reading the book) and Lethal Weapon 4.

Every now and then I still feel compelled to go out and see a movie, usually by myself. Movies are like concerts; even if you go as a group, you experience them individually. Your friends are only useful as “What the hell was that?” sounding boards after the movie. I saw all the new Star Wars abominations and the all the Lord of the Rings movies.

And, after all these years, I still don’t pick up and eat the popcorn until after the movie starts. Although is didn’t save the new Star Wars abominations. I might as well have gone ahead and started eating.

Once Wedded Thrice Ceremonied

Fourteen years ago today I married She Who Must Be Obeyed after some paperwork, a bit of confusion and a small temper tantrum. We count that as our first wedding ceremony and our official anniversary. Ten months later we’d finally be finished having weddings.

The initial confusion was a result of us actually researching the issue of marriage rather than following our instincts. The instructions seemed simple: bring paperwork XYZ for both partners and the foreign guy needs to bring his Residence Card. In neither the English nor the Japanese instructions we read (from different sources) was a passport mentioned. In fact, for foreigners with visas, the Residence Card and not the passport is considered the official ID. We packed up all our stuff–sans passport–and headed to Niigata for our marriage.

Of course, local officials immediately demanded a passport. We showed every instruction and guide book we had, in two languages, and that my passport number was, in fact, on my Residence Card. After careful consideration, the staff sent us away and went off, we thought, to process our marriage documents. We returned a while later to find the man we’d been arguing with talking on a phone. I cringed for a moment because I feared we were about to encounter wakarimasen dekimasen and The Phone Rule. Unfortunately I was correct.

A few minutes after that, the official showed us a passage in a book that said they could accept a passport. We then entered a brief Bible Verse Context Debate. I pointed out the passage before that passage stated that the passport could be accepted IF NO OTHER ID EXISTED. They said: “Yeah, how about that. Passport please.” We filled out everything we could and, once I got home, I mailed a copy of my passport to them and they backdated our marriage to May 26th.

About three months after that we flew to the USA and brought along She Who Must Be Obeyed’s family (known as They Who Look At Dwayne And Shake Their Heads And Sigh). We had a church ceremony after events that, like all things to that point, involved bureaucracy and my late paternal grandmother leaving her church over their bull– er, their bureaucracy. The church we ended up in, though, was great and everyone had a great time. Everyone decided that my brother-in-law was actually Jackie Chan and he exploited the confusion for a great many free drinks and a part in at least one straight to video movie (something like that). We then had a nice honeymoon, minus They Who Look At Dwayne And Shake Their Heads And Sigh, in Vancouver, Canada.

Finally, in March of 2001, we brought my mother and step-father over to Japan for our Japanese ceremony. From what I’ve heard, the Japanese ceremony and reception were great and that my mom actually sang for the first time in years. However, Japanese custom required She Who Must Be Obeyed and me to miss most of the ceremony whilst we changed clothes. It was one of those situations where everyone is all smiles as you bow and exit the room and then once the doors are closed the smiles disappear and they start shouting “move your ass move your ass clock is ticking clock is ticking you’re not the only one getting married here today maggots move your ass move your ass.”

My years of acting classes had prepared me for quick changes and putting on smiles for the crowd as soon as the door opens. However, it didn’t prepare me for missing my own wedding dinner. Granted, they brought food out for us, but then the speeches started which meant we weren’t supposed to eat. Luckily, my short 10 days in Air Force Officer’s Training School taught me to eat fast, meaning I actually got to finish my meal. Although they would bring the scraps to our hotel room, She Who Must Be Obeyed never actually got her entire meal. Instead she got stuck with me which, well, yeah. Well.

We then had two beautiful girls who, after some careful discussion, especially recently, we’ve decided to keep. At least for now.

Brief Fits of Violence and Horror

Yesterday I talked about the different types of parents at sports day. Today I thought I should talk about sports day itself.

My first taste of sports day happened my first few months in Japan. I was invited to attend in a way that made it seem as if my attendance was optional. However, as an Assistant Language Teacher working for the school board, I felt it was my duty to attend and, because I was still in the early glow of being in Japan, I was looking forward to attending. Then I got to school and one of my teachers said “I see you’re participating in the shototoshobugubugu  and in the tsunabunatikihiki.” (not their real names) I went “huh?” and then figured out I was running the obstacle course and the taking part in the tug-o-war.

I’ve mentioned before that, partly thanks to acting, I have a bum knee and pointed out that, in fact, I had a limp and that I shouldn’t be involved in a running race, especially when jumping on and over stuff was involved. I also pointed out that I thought it was optional and didn’t understand why I was scheduled for events. They shrugged and said “ganbatte” which usually means “don’t give up” but in this case meant “Stop bitching and start stretching. You’ve got a race to run.”

The obstacle course involved moving 10 beans from one plate to another with chopsticks, hurdling a bar and crawling under another, crawling under a cargo net, running across a balance beam, fetching a piece of candy out of a tin of flour using only my face (not a joke), running around the track with the candy in my mouth and my face, eyes and lungs covered in flour, jumping on and over a vaulting horse, and then limping to the finish. The tug of war involved teachers and parents and went reasonably well for the other team.

What fascinated and horrified me the most, though, was the surprisingly violent nature of a lot of the sports. At one junior high school there was a tire grab where students rushed to several tires and tried to drag them back to their side. People got knocked down and stepped on and lots of skin was scraped off hands as tires were yanked away. In another event, called kibasen, three students carry a fourth whose job it is to grab a hat or bandana off the heads of rival students. Tempers flare, hair gets yanked out, some students abandon the pretext of grabbing the bandana and simply start pummeling their rivals.

At another junior high, groups of boys held up bamboo poles with flags on them and then formed pyramids that reinforced the flagpoles. Teams of girls then fought to pull down and or capture the opponent’s flag. This involved girls knocking girls down before they could reach the pyramid, girls jumping on the backs of boys in the pyramids to get more height, girls pulling girls down off the pyramid and dumping them in the dirt, and years of bad blood coming out. In once case, a girl was knocked out cold when got pushed backward off the pyramid and hit the back of her head square on the knee of another girl.

The school nurse saw the girl wasn’t moving, ran out into the game, which was still going on, slung the girl over her back and carried her away from the game without checking her once. Now, I appreciate roughhousing as much as the next person–and I’m still shocked that it’s the usually sedate Japanese doing these violent sports–but dragging an unconscious person off the field while play is still going on, causes even me to have a sense of decency.

Some schools have tamed some of the events–students usually grab large hats now instead of bandanas–but there’s still a lot of roughhousing to be had. Even in the elementary school events, my youngest had a bamboo pole grabbed out of her hand and was later dragged across the dirt by several stronger kids.

Neither Mercy Nor Respect Nor Scrap of Human Decency

Most parents I’ve met in my life have seemed like decent people. However, one of the things I’ve learned in my Daddyhood is that no matter who the parents are, no matter what they do in life, all parents transform into either aggressive jerks or complete morons during an elementary school sports day. (Actually, there’s a third category, but we’ll get to that.) This is especially true in Japan.

The first transformation occurs before the event begins. If it’s scheduled to start at 8:40 a.m., you will see parents roaming the field at 7:30 or 8:00 so they can mark territory with blue tarps. (At some of the more prestigious schools, parents camp out overnight for the best spots.)  In our case, aggressive jerks lay out blue tarps and weight them down with a bag or a couple bottles of water and then disappear until the starting time. There’s no requirement that a person actually be there, the blue tarp holds the spot.

Once people arrive, you really see the transformation. Complete morons arrive in funny hats and/or long sleeve jackets to protect themselves from the sun. Children are allowed to run across other people’s blue tarps. At the start of events, the complete morons rush to their places, thus blocking sight lines for other parents. They then realize they chose a bad spot and rush off to a new location, upsetting even more sight lines.

This is also time for the arrival of the aggressive jerks. In the photo areas, they force their way to the front, they set up tripods and they bump other aggressive jerks’ tripods. The taller they are, the more likely they are to forget that tall people don’t need to be at the front because they can see over short people. They talk loudly so the only thing you can hear on the video is the sound of complete morons talking about how some people are aggressive jerks. The worst are the parents and grand-parents of first graders attending their first sports day. They rise to a special level of aggression and will not be denied. They are not the worst, though. They are merely inexperienced, which makes them complete morons.

When you combine aggressive jerk with complete moron you get the third category: asshole. The asshole is seated close to the front, with a great view of the action, but stands up because he doesn’t understand that standing up doesn’t bring the picture closer, the zoom lens does. The asshole also doesn’t understand that the zoom lens works just as well whilst you’re sitting. This causes other assholes to stand up while some aggressive jerk behind them shouts, in another language, “sit down, asshole.” because he forgot to ask his wife how to say “down in front” in Japanese.



Most people are aggressive jerks when their child is on the field, but quickly excuse themselves or sit down once the heat is over. The asshole, though, will remain standing long after most others have sat down.

That said, for the most part, the sports days at my youngest’s elementary school are pretty painless. Unfortunately, I’m required to get mad at someone, and therefore be an aggressive jerk, at least once per sports day or the day isn’t complete. I’m also one of the morons wearing a funny hat

This is an example of a moron.



Fear of Failing Structural Constructions

I don’t know for sure when I developed a fear of heights. I remember walking around at Mesa Verde in Southwest Colorado when I was in school, and I remember climbing on walls and walking across the tops of tall walls, but I don’t remember having any problems.

I remember being uncomfortable on Royal Gorge Bridge–especially when 1) I looked down through the gaps in the wood planks and 2) I realized they were wood planks. Eventually I got out to the middle of the bridge and was able to look over the railing, I don’t remember having any problems at the Grand Canyon.

I wasn’t able to go up to the roof of the World Trade Center during a trip to the 1981 Boy Scout Jamboree. I seem to remember being worried about losing my hat in the wind–I’ve mentioned before that I’m good at making excuses. I was also initially reluctant to back up against one of the windows when we were told to line up in our patrols. (Why is it always “tall people at the back?” Put the short people at the back for once.)

The first time I remember not being able to do something because of heights involved very basic rock climbing at Ben Delatour Scout Ranch North-Central Colorado. For reasons I don’t remember, I joined a hike to a nearby rock structure. The climb up was pretty easy and the heights didn’t bother me. However, at one point I remember we had to use a rope to climb over a small rock outcropping. I started up, but my foot was slipping and the rope felt kind of loose. I vaguely remember the guide saying to just climb and that my foot would stick if I just trusted my weight to it. I tried a couple times then just walked away, much to the surprise of pretty much everyone around me.

The first time I remember panicking was at the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London during a university trip. I’d been pre-freaked by having to walk around the whispering gallery, which sits at a nice 99 feet or so above the splatter zone. The nonchalance of other people–who were leaning over the railing or leaning against it–whilst my brain was going “that was last renovated in the 17th century”–triggered the early stages of panic. When we got to the top, I practically had to be dragged out on the top of the dome. In fact, I only went out because the only survivable way down could only be accessed from the balcony.

Strangely enough, this is only an issue with buildings. I have no problems flying. I don’t mind looking down the earth from that high. Some of that may have to do with a notion I’ve heard sky-divers describe: they’re more afraid climbing scaffolding and ladders than jumping out of planes. The brain can’t comprehend 10,000 feet or 30,000 feet, but it does comprehend 30 feet or 300 feet.

My brain also comprehends the notions of things breaking and structures failing. My imagination kicks in and I can see the 340 year old railing collapsing. I can see the 290 foot high sky bridge in the NS Building in Tokyo falling during an earthquake. Once such things are comprehended, panic sets in.

I’ve been working on the fear by visiting tall buildings when I can. I had some trouble in the glass elevator of the Umeda Sky Building in Osaka–the hanging escalators were also freaky–but I enjoyed the visit. I’ve found that it’s other people that set off my panic. If I could go to the Whispering Gallery by myself, I wouldn’t start panicking. I also watch videos of insane Russians climbing things. When I can’t look, I practice breathing and try to calm myself down.

As a test, I recommend the pictures on this page. If you think you’re not afraid of heights, watching these, fools, er, folks, might change your mind.

Darkling Dreaming Teacher

I’m willing to bet that, no matter who they are and how soft-spoken and mild-mannered they are, no matter how much they enjoy teaching and no matter how dedicated to their profession they are, every teacher has dreamed of telling off a student.

I have lived that dream. Kind of. In a way. Rather disturbingly in retrospect.

It happened the end of my first year teaching in Japan. Japanese public school classes are much noisier than most Westerners expect. As I’ve said before, school is often considered social time and teachers tolerate an amount of noise that would trigger meetings and therapy sessions in the USA. Some weeks you can handle it and getting the attention of the class is a game; the next week culture shock sets in and you get angry and frustrated and you start shouting a lot.

In my case, the second wave of culture shock hit in June. For reasons I don’t fully understand, Japanese school years run well into July instead of ending at the end of May when God intended them to end. (I can’t remember the exact verse; And I say unto thee, go thee forth from thy school when the wind turneth as to the South and prosper ye about merrily in thine own way but mostly in Mine.) Something like that.

The weather was getting muggy and hot and my decades of conditioning resisted being in class that late. None of the student rooms were air conditioned.The result was not pretty, although it was kind of fun. I was teaching first year junior high (7th grade) and trying to help a girl during who was finally speaking to me. She’d asked a question and I was there to help her. The boy next to her, though, kept butting in with the answer and what she was doing wrong as she was trying to talk.

Finally, something snapped in my head. I asked the little shi, er, LAD, “Are you an English teacher?” After a couple rounds of “huh?” and me repeating, my Japanese English Teacher finally translated my question. “Are you an English teacher?” He went “No. No. No.” and I said “Then shut the fuck up.”

The teacher translated it as “Please be quiet sit down” in a tone that said “Please be quiet sit the hell down before the insane foreigner loses his last thread of sanity.”

To this day I have mixed feelings about that incident. He was trying to be helpful and I could have reacted in a different way. On the other hand, the young lass had the floor and he was stepping on it. Either way, after my initial feeling of horror and “Did I just say that out loud?” I realized it was kind of fun and actually felt good to say that.

I haven’t done it since. I’ve already lived that dream.