Friday, July 16, 2010

Hotel California


Part 4 of the August 28 road trip.

Remember how I ate some pumpkin-flavoured ice cream and didn't know I was lactose intolerant? As we drove to our next destination, I realized something was percolating in my gut.
Twenty bumpy minutes later with me trying not to fart we arrive at Handa Primary School (featuring grades 1-6).
When they jump out of the car, I hang back a moment and wait until they are far away and clear my throat loudly while farting into the car. 
Iso-san suddenly goes back to the opens the door, sticks his head, pulls it out and looks at me. He walks sort of close to me and asks "Daijobu?" (You okay?) and then : "Bikurishta" (Ommigawd!) before coughing loudly.
Anyhow, farting aside, there are 116 students and nine teachers meaning about 13 students per teacher. The school is 105 years which makes it older than that house we just finished visiting - I knew it wasn't that old!
The principal (Kocho sensei) Fukasawa speaks English very well and makes me promise to come back and teach him English and he will teach me Japanese. maybe we can do that every Friday morning - I'll have to see. (Nope - never happened).
We go to the gym where the entire school is sitting apparently awaiting my arrival. It's so quiet you could hear a bowling pin drop until they see me and it instantly becomes deathly silent.
I'm in do inaka (the boonies/sticks), and I may indeed be the first gaijin/foreigner they have ever sen outside of the television or movies.
Six pretty grade 6 students (girls) come up with a large bouquet of flowers and bow and stick out their hand for a handshake. So I do.
Ommigawd! This set's off a frenzy in the gym as the kids go nuts - jumping up and racing over to me to be the next to shake the hand of an honest to gosh gaijin. Five minutes later with every little bugger satisfied, it's time for me to go. You should have heard the disappointment. Instead of "Awwwwwww" I heard "eyyyyyyyyyyyyy". Everyone - and I mean everyone waved goodbye - which I returned in kind. One girl - maybe 11 years-old - ran up and flipped me the peace sign, which I stupidly responded in kind. The whole school rushed me like a prison break and flipped me the peace sign. Except one kid who just flipped me off. Not sure if I should laugh, I winked at him and he came over and gave me a big hug. Just as the student body prepared for another push forward to follow his lead, Fukasawa-sensei yelled out - "Dame dai yo!" (Loosely translated to: No way, Jose!) as the little buggers stopped dead in their tracks.
Hanazaki-san tells me I will visit the Ohtawara primary schools again in March. Cool!
By the time we get back to the OBOE, it's time for me to leave on time - while the OBOE workers have to stick around and wait for the Superintendent to leave first - and hope he isn't asleep in his office.
On the way home I purchase a kettle for Ashley, go home wait for her to arrive, head out to AiAi Town (a department store) for her to buy a rain coat (what for? it's beautiful in the country!). I purchase more spaghetti supplies and we then head back to my place to cook and eat.
Matthew's timing is better this evening as he calls after we finish up in the bedroom - and it's only 9AM, but that also means it's time for me to ride Ashley back to her place in Nishinasuno-machi (town of Nishinasuno).
As I'm killing bugs in her place, the old guy Marshall (he's 34 and from California) calls Ashley to ask if she's going to some beach party in Saitama-ken (Saitama Province). He says she can spend the night at his place in Yaita-machi so they can get an early start to the party. He then asks how her weekend was.
Ashley rolls her eyes at me - she knows I can hear everything he's saying on the phone - and tells him that she went to Nikko with Andrew. "Who?" he asks.
Bastich. I may have to have a chat with this guy.
She tells him she's not going to the party, but that Andrew is and suggests that maybe he could spend the night in Yaita. Ha! Good girl! he says something about having to go and hangs up.
I have to go too, but not before Ashley shows me a music box her old boyfriend Eric in the U.S gave her - I pull a Marshall and ask "Who?" She hits me, kisses me and tries to push me out the door.
Why the heck did she show me that music box? Did she see the one I had bought for her? I hadn't given her the music box because it was supposed to be a one-month anniversary surprise (August 30, 1990).
On the way out she asks me how much I spent on that music box - so she did see it! I tell her it only cost 3100 yen ($25 Cdn). She smiles, kisses me again and closes the door.

Somewhere and somewhen I had a pretty darn good day,
Andrew Joseph
Today's title is, of course, by The Eagles: COLITAS
PS - In the photo above, I'm signing autographs at the primary school. I have a 6-inch Ultraman (a Japanese show I used to watch when I was a kid) doll (given to me by a student!) stuffed in my shirt, and I looked burnt out - which you can really tell I am in the photo below this:

PPS: Why this song/title? - The school is a lovely place/Ashley has a lovely face - but like the Hotel, danger lurks, and while you can check out any time you like, you can never leave. Even 20 years later, I can still feel their sticky hands all over me! Or is it my own son?
PPPS - I keep mentioning Nikko, so let's take a look next time.

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