Monday, July 5, 2010

Born Under A Bad Sign

Have you ever had one of those days when absolutely nothing went according to plan? Well, when you live in a place for nearly a year and you still can't speak the lingo or understand anybody, you don't make too many plans, but fortunately for you, oh gentle reader, it has made for an interesting rife.

One of my most 'enjoyable' but embarrassing moments occurred whilst I was visiting Chikasono Chu Gakko (Chikasono Junior High School). I was standing at the urinal doing my business when a couple of girls walked by the doorway (there are no doors in Japanese public washrooms) and waved hello to me. I, unfortunately (or fortunately  for this blog) waved back. With the wrong hand. Whoops.

Later that day at lunch, I was asked the question all foreigners are asked by curious Japanese folk: "Can you use Japanese chopsticks?" It was in English, too!

Not to belabour a point, but there is a difference in chopsticks between Asian nations, and this SITE can offer you more--so it is perfectly fins for the Japanese to mention the country of origin when asking that question. Anyhow, Japanese chopsticks are called hashi. Check OUT this site for more on chopsticks and a photo of natto (rotting soy beans). 

Now, as for the answer to that question about my adroitness using the hashi (chopsticks), I had been taught by my boss, Hanazaki-san about a week after landing in Ohtawara. He taught me using a pen and a pencil in lieu of the chopsticks - placing my ego aside for a moment, I am quite adept at using them, as I am able to quickly pick up single grains of rice or smooth round beans with ease.

However, on this particular day, after I answered in the affirmative (Hai!), as if on cue, I dropped the chunk of stewed squid onto my white dress shirt. The only plus from this moment was that I made two kids laugh hard enough for milk to squirt out of their noses. At least I think it was milk.

After lunch, I, as per my norm, walked alone around the school as it is easier to pass gas that way. Unfortunately, the kids at Chikasono seem to be very friendly kids (mostly farm kids, as Chikasono is smack-dab in the middle of Ohtawara's farming community - even though it seems to be mostly a farming community) - I was beset upon by what seemed to be hundreds of girls lining the hallway looking, pointing, smiling and waving frantically at me. My now replaced ego would tell you that this is a normal occurrence.   

Anyhow, one girl finally worked up the courage to come up and talk to me. Before turning a brilliant shade of red and bursting into laughter, she had time to say: "Zippa down!" Hey, at least it was English!

Geez. I wonder if it had been a left-over by-product from the wave incident. Man... and I thought these girl's liked me for my sense of humour and good looks. And what the heck were they doing looking down there anyways?

Next up, I received a phone call from Hanazaki-san wanting to know why I had flipped off (given the finger) to the Kocho Sensei (school principal) from the Ohtawara Senior Girl's High School (well, there goes ANY chance of me getting to visit that school). I tried to explain that I didn't know it was anybody important who had splashed a mud puddle on me when he had driven by this morning. When I added that I thought it was just a science teacher, Hanazaki-san bought my story and all was forgotten and almost dry. My explanation was also in English!

So... there I was - having a really bad day (though my hair was perfect - I'm very vain about my hair. It's the one vanity I have that I will admit too). To make this a completely cruddy day (I am excluding the possibility of anyone here jumping up to mess up my hair), all I needed was to have students try and strike up a conversation with me.

Friendly buggers, they were right on time. It seems that during my personal introductions here during my last visit, I must have mentioned that I could slam dunk a basketball. The kids had finally looked up the words to call my bluff. Y'see, I figured that by the time they had learned enough English to ask the question, I'd be home in Toronto after my one-year gig was up. Smart buggers. Anyhow, I had assumed that since the average Japanese person is as tall as a Frenchman (5'-8"), that the basketball hoops would be lower. So I don't know basketball very well.

What a day: I've been caught for a liar; flipped a principal the finger; have muddy pants with squid stains on my shirt; and I've exposed myself. Twice. The only way I could possibly top this school day would be to have an adventure at my acupuncturist. 

My back has been a bit of a problem since I got here. It has been relieved by the new double bed generously given to me as a gift by a Japanese family (Ashley and I and a few others, say thanks), but my bosses Hanazaki-san and Kanemaru-san had made my first appointment for me for today.

I rode my bicycle to the doctor's office and upon walking through the door, was quickly ushered into a room (perhaps so no one else could see a gaijin (foreigner) take off his pants and shirt). Doctor XXX (they told me his name once, but I quickly mis-remembered it as I am lousy with names and faces, which sucks when everyone here in Ohtawara seems to know who I am) had me lie on my stomach. 

I guess the day's events had made me unusually tense, but I screamed 34 times as 34 needles were plunged into my neck, back, but and back of my thigh. Apparently, acupuncture isn't supposed to hurt at all. It it must be true because I never heard the doctor scream even once.

As the needles were removed, the doctor rotated them slowly and lifted the out starting at the top and working down. As each needle left my body, so too did the pain, as it travelled down to the next needle, causing me to cry out. 

The 298-year-old man lying on the table beside me laughed at my wimpiness and called me the Japanese equivalent of a cat. 

Sore physically and emotionally, I went home and crawled into bed. Alone.

Somewhere knowing I have four more days left until the weekend,
Andrew Joseph

PS: Today's Title is found HERE , and was originally performed by Blues legend Albert King, and was written by Booker T. Jones who fronted Booker T & the MGs.  Check out THEIR hit with Donald Duck Dunn on bass... who was the pipe-smoking bass player in the classic The Blues Brothers movie - everyone has seen it, so here's something DIFFERENT.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...