Sunday, October 30, 2005

Another normal day

Another day at work.

My problem class (which I have written about previously here and here) has a new twist. Last semester one of the cool guys decided that he would speak English after all (he had been too cool to do so, before) - but only in a funny voice. I didn't do anything about it, because at least he was speaking English. But in the last couple of weeks his idea has taken off in a big way, and now the whole class is doing it. Naoki now sounds COMPLETELY NORMAL. He is the only one not doing it. (At least not deliberately.)

This week the funny voices thing was made more hilarious by the language the students have been learning. They enjoyed the bit about bad habits in the textbook, and made extensive use of their dictionaries, which they don't normally bother to do. Yesterday the lesson was punctuated by sudden accusations.



All in funny voices, of course.

"Terrible, terrible," I say, shaking my head. "Turn to page forty-five. TURN! TO! PAGE! FORTY! FIVE!"

I do not use a funny voice. I do speak at ten times my normal volume, however. I have to, in that class. I have a lot of competition.

At lunchtime there was a Halloween parade at the university. I know Halloween in on Sunday, but nobody is there on Sunday so they had the parade on Friday. This was organized by the foreign full-timers, as a sort of cultural event with a prize for best costume (so that at least some of the students would be motivated to participate). Some of the part-time teachers brought costumes and joined the parade. I did not, because I am far too mature and professional for that sort of thing. (Also, I forgot it was on.) I didn't even go to see the parade. It was on the other end of campus, I had grading to do, and couldn't be bothered making the effort to fit that in as well.

The teacher in the room next to mine borrowed a wig from another teacher, and in the teachers' room he tried it on. It was long and blond. The effect was startling. He is a tall, large fair man, with very short hair. He also has dimples. When he wore the wig (with little pumpkin clips to keep it out of his eyes) he looked like a gigantic schoolgirl. It was an astonishing transformation.

We dared him to wear it to class.

Passing the office, we stopped in to pick up audio-visual cabinet keys. Several of the office ladies went into hysterics when they saw the wig. One middle-aged woman, who is normally very dignified, laughed so hard she ended up staggering around banging into things, and had to wipe her streaming eyes with a hanky.

"Suits him, doesn't it?" I commented, once she'd recovered, and she stared at me and then stared at him, just as he absentmindedly flipped the hair out of his face, looking impossibly coy. She folded over again, holding her sides.

Up on the fifth floor two of us lurked out in the hall to see how his class reacted. We had a good view of the students slumped over their desks through the glass panel in the door. It was nine in the morning. Students are not at their best in first period classes. The other teacher nudged me.

"I bet they don't notice," he said.

"They can't POSSIBLY not notice," I said.

The teacher strode in looking utterly bizarre. "Good morning!" he said, in his usual manner, and flipped the hair back from his face. (He told us later he wasn't doing that on purpose. The hair kept getting up his nose and the pumpkin clips weren't doing the job.)

The students gazed at him in the stunned mullet way they usually do in first period. After about ten seconds, one giggled suddenly. The others sat there. The thought balloons over their heads were COMPLETELY EMPTY.

The two of us out in the hall fell about laughing.

"That was PERFECT!" gasped the other teacher. "PERFECT!"

We talked about it in the break. The bewigged teacher was horribly disappointed. "They didn't react!" he said.

"That because we're ALREADY strange," said the teacher who'd been out in the hall with me. "We're gaijin. They expect us to be weird. The only way we could really surprise them is if we walked in looking perfectly normal, and we can never do that because we're not Japanese."

I wasn't so sure. "It could have been that none of them had their contact lenses in yet," I said. "And it's not cool to wear glasses unless you don't need them."

When another teacher walked into my third period class wearing a different, black wig which looked remarkably like many of the students' own hair, and pretended to be one of them by sitting down and instantly falling asleep, my students cracked up. But I don't know if it was the wig or the imitation student thing that made them hoot.

In that class, I managed to inadvertently reinforce some of the language I've been teaching them in recent weeks. As I walked into the class I realized I'd left my wallet in the coffee shop, where I'd been sitting doing grading after having lunch (instead of going to see the parade). "Oh!" I said, and smacked myself on the head. "I left my wallet in the coffee shop. I am SO FORGETFUL. Sorry - I have to run and get it."

This is exactly what they studied last week. Forgetful was on the vocab list, and leaving something somewhere was one of the phrases they learned.

After I'd run to the coffee shop and back to the classroom - down and up three flights of stairs - I arrived back the classroom with my wallet, gasping for breath and red in the face.

"I am SO out of shape," I told the students, and they nodded wisely. We did out of shape two weeks ago. It's lovely to be understood.

The winner of the Halloween parade costume competition was a student who wore only underpants and a mask. I heard about it afterwards. Apparently his underpants were so tight and revealing he would have been arrested in any other country. Here he won an iPod.

A couple of female teachers were talking about it in the teachers' room after work.

"I saw you staring!" said one.

"I didn't mean to," said the other, defensively. "But I couldn't help it. They were JIGGLING. Your eyes just naturally WENT there."

How could I have been so stupid? I spent lunchtime grading papers and forgetting things when I could have been feasting my eyes on JIGGLING UNDERPANTS.



Wiccachicky said...

I love Halloween! What costume won the best of contest?

kenju said...

I wish I could win an ipod by wearing nothing but underware. I have a feeling I would win a booby prize for that!

Faerunner said...

I think I'd rather grade papers :P

Cheryl said...

That class just retaining a dignified silence for the teacher in the wig - oh my goodness.

Mask and underpants?
I mean, mask and underpants??

I think you might have made all the right choices, for this year :-D

Gary WHite said...

Very enjoyable read..LOL

I work teaching Inmates in a Prison and they can be equally 'funny'....