Wednesday I taught at the Hamatonbetsu junior high school. My four classes went well, but the most memorable parts of the day came outside the classroom.
The first came when discussing social plans with some of my colleagues. “Bomberman,” whom was the leader in my recent trek through time, mentioned he wanted to go out again, this time to a bar. I said fantastic. Through a translator, this is how the conversation proceeded,
Bomberman: “We go to bar near time.”
Me: “Great, soon.” Thinking Friday night.
Translator: “No, in Japanese `near time` does not mean soon.”
Me: “OK.” Used to the difficulties of cross-cultural-communication at this point, not surprised, thinking maybe the weekend after this one.
Bomberman and the translator have a meeting, which I cannot understand, each checking their deskcalenders with a serious expression. Finally they reach some sort of agreement of the proper scope of `near time,` relative to November 19th.
Translator: “December 26th.”
Earlier that morning I had been asked to attend gym class during 4th period for basketball, by a student who self-described himself as *the Japanese Michael Jordan.” I was happy he knew who MJ was. Watching his skills later, I quickly realized he was far better than MJ ever`d been, even if the Japanese version was unreliable making layups.
The skills of all the players were not the sharpest I`d seen, but the officialness of the gym class was. For the girls and boys games they had electronic scoreboards working, as well as one student running the floor as a referee, with some sort of electronic whistle. I was blown away.
Playing with the boys I fared alright, missed a layup and grabbed a few rebounds. Later, I migrated over to the girls side, and there I found my true calling. After scoring to open the 5:00 period, I then turned to my strength, the defensive end.
The girls were a little timid, one in particular whom caught a pass behind me to my left side. Turning to defend the shot, I timed it perfectly. She thought she was about about to score an easy basket. I showed how things are done in the USA.
I elevated at least an inch off the ground, and doing my best Bill Russell imitation swatted the ball just as it left her hands sending it crashing into the wall. The gym teacher and fellow students started laughing. The girl may not have appreciated it, but in my house if you`re gonna try and score you better not come soft to the hole or you`ll get squashed.
It had already been a good day, and was going to end even better with my first Japanese birthday party. It was a gaijin heavy event, as myself, Chris and his wife all were kindly invited to share in the evening`s festivities. Chris immediately embarassed my blog posting present by bringing along a bottle of Johnnie Walker black.
The food was spectacular all night, ranging from sashimi to tonkatsu to okonomyaki. It was capped off with not one, but two cheesecakes, the better one which was home made by Ki-San’s daughter.