Chasing Cherry Blossoms
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fatal Attraction 2.0

Now, if you've got me on Facebook, much of this post is probably going to be surplus to requirements. But frankly, I don't give a shit: I could tell the story of Fatal Attraction 2.0 a million times and it wouldn't get old.

Before that, however, there's the small issue of Johen's undokai (Sports Day) to deal with.

So, on Sunday, after literal weeks of training, the Big Day had finally rolled around. I'd been forced to give up my weekend to help prepare (i.e. stand around, clueless and sweaty, looking just the right level of engaged, yet clueless enough so nobody asks me to do anything), so I was expecting to be repaid with a show. And that's exactly what I got. Dance routines performed en masse, wheelbarrows, kids climbing poles, even sumo wrestling. All performed to a soundtrack of Kylie Minogue, Queen and The Beatles. I didn't have a clue what was going on, but for six hours I watched, amazed at the organised chaos that was unfolding around me. Having been told that the relay I was running in was the last event (aka THE EXHIBITION EVENT. FML.), I decided I had six hours to unwind and not think about my impending humiliation. So instead, I kicked back, relaxed and watched the kids enact theirs.

Of course, this is Japan we're talking about... it's like an EastEnders wedding. You kid yourself that, this time, things might pan out differently. The script might change. But, deep down, you know some form of fuck-uppery is an inevitability. So, there I am, smugly laughing at the kids from the safety of my shaded tent, ice-coffee and chilled face-towel in hand... next, every face in the crowd - parent, teacher and student alike - is turned towards me, frantically pointing and gesturing "Go! Go! Go!". Then, before I know it, a ten-year old Japanese girl has run over to me, tied her leg to mine and I'm thrust into the spotlight, getting pity-claps as we inevitably finish last place in an impulse three-legged race. How? Turns out the kids were running in some kind of novelty relay, and when they got to a certain point, they had to turn over cards. On these cards were written instructions telling them what to do next. Seemingly, one little girl's card told her to run over to me (it had to be me), yank me out of the crowd, tie her leg to mine and finish the race as a pair. So that's what she did.  Was it a real sport? Fuck no. Did I get my just desserts for being such a smug shit beforehand? Fuck. YES.

Shedding my forcibly-attached third leg, the teachers' relay was a walk-in-the-park in comparison. Of course, the team I was on once came in last place, but this time I don't have to resort to the oh-so-chilvarous act of blaming a 10-year-old girl for my failure (though, let's be honest, it was blates her fault)... nah, I can just blame the fact that I was the only one on the teachers' team under the age of 35. Not my fault. At all. Now, who says I'm not a good team player?

My undokai peformance would've earned me one of those "you're-actually-shit-but-we-don't-want-you-to-grow-up-jaded" rosettes at home.

The debacle that is undokai over for another year, it was time (somewhat ironically) to celebrate with a big old piss-up, Japanese style. Now, I like to think that, whilst I'm here in Japan, I'm not only teaching, but I'm learning too. Really taking in the culture and everything Ainan has to offer, y'know? Well, for my second enkai, I certainly learnt something... the important lesson of how to acquire your very own stalker. And not just any old stalker, no no. A stalker who happens to be married. With kids. Who you teach. Wow.

So, there I am, it's the post-undokai enkai and I find myself in the familiar position of sitting in a Japanese bar, understanding approximately 0% of what's being said to me, and deciding I'll combat it by getting trashed. Then, to my initial delight, a woman with near-fluent (i.e. suspiciously good) English throws herself down next to me and strikes up conversation. HALLELUJAH, I thought. An escape route from this Japanese mindfuck. Except, little did I know, this escape route was one probably best avoided. She introduces herself as the parent of one of my students (whose name I pretend I recognise from the pool of about 500 kids I teach), and tells me that she wants to practice her English, since everything she's learnt so far she's picked up from Western films. Well, that was the sober explanation. Two hours of unlimited booze later, the story changes slightly. Turns out the fountain of this seemingly-sweet little Japanese housewife's English knowledge wasn't a stack of Harry Potter DVDs but, rather, some bloke from New Zealand called Harry who she'd been cheating on her husband with for the past two years. Ho ho ho.

At first, I thought it was hilarious. Then, as her hands wandered in places they shouldn't be wandering, and as she started to text me glittery hearts from across the table (I naively traded numbers with her when her psychopathic colours were less clear to see), I started to change my mind. It was clear she'd let me be the next Ron to her Hermione. Except that Hermione's a teenager. This woman's in her mid-forties, has got a husband, and a kid (WHO I TEACH), and is squealing and acting like a dosed-up schoolgirl trying to impress this clearly-unimpressed gaijin. All I know is that if my mum went to a PTA event, got trashed and acted like that with my teachers, I'd be fucking ashamed. Ironically, I ended up taking refuge back with those whose English was as good as my Japanese. Sure, we didn't understand each other, but I'll take confusion over perversion any day.

Luckily, I got out before she went all chopstick-psycho on my ass.

Fortunately, the kids themselves acted with a lot more grace at Sports Day itself. Even the kids who came in last place were laughing and smiling. And the post-undokai enkai allowed me to (AT LAST!) find a karaoke place that offers Nancy Sinatra. Zoe Deschanel eat your heart out. For three minutes at least, I was Summer in (500) Days of Summer. Now, where's Joseph Gordon-Levitt when you need him?

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