Cool People Part 1

Amid recent “scandals” involving JETs and their blogs, I have been hesitant to update. Someone was scolded for posting pictures of their students, or saying that the students weren’t really great at cleaning up the school. Pretty innocuous if you ask me, but your employer reserves the right to blah blah blah, yackety shmackety.
But seeing as I don’t really have anything bad to say about my life, school, or situation, I wonder how blogging about how great life is could be construed as slander. Oh, also, the guy in question was also “spoken to” for having a picture of a sexy figurine. That he saw outside of work. In a store for children.
I have resolved to continue blogging, continue not using names of my coworkers, and continue posting pictures of my friends, cool things I see on the street, and sexy figurines, and if anyone has a problem with it, they can…ask me to stop. And I’ll think about it.
And just to show the world how unafraid I am, I will now post about…my teachers!
I really think I lucked out. They workshopped and orientationed us to death about how shy our coworkers would be, and how they would be too scared to make mistakes in English, so they would probably remain very quiet and standoffish, but we should still try to make friends.
Well, someone forgot to tell my school that that’s how you’re supposed to act.
First we have Cutie and Patooty, my two coworkers who I am at least a foot taller than, but being friends with Melissa for almost 10 years has prepared me well for this. And I think I’ve just stopped being embarrassed for myself in Japan, because there’s not much I can do about the fact that I’m a gigantor and I couldn’t buy a pair of pants that fit here to save my life.
Anyway, Cutie and Patooty are my delightful friends, and we try to go out to dinner every couple weeks so they can introduce me to delicious Japanese foods. Or that is their front. I have a feeling they just really want to see me squirm when they tell me what I’m eating.
No, they’re really supportive. I told them on the first day that I would try anything unless it was an animal I could ride or keep as a pet, and that I wasn’t too crazy about seafood that had suckers.
Well, the second time we went out, they had some sucker-based sashimi that they kept yumming about, so I buckled down and tried it, and it wasn’t too bad. Read: it was bland enough that it just tasted like something squishy dipped into soy sauce and wasabi. I also tried natto, the stereotypical Disgusting Japanese Food It’s Funny to Watch Gaijin Eat.
The taste wasn’t as bad as I had thought, but the consistency was what got me. Natto is fermented soy beans, and it has the consistency and many other properties of…basically what you see in a tissue after you sneeze.
But they introduced me to a lot of really delicious things that I’ll never be able to order again because I can’t read menus without pictures. We’re going out again this weekend for sushi, since my delectable conveyor-belt sushi is considered the McDonald’s of Japanese fish cuisine.
A third teacher of interest at my school is Good/Bad Cop. The first day I met him, I was terrified of him because he was lecturing a student right next to my desk, and I pretended I wasn’t interested at all, when I was actually wishing I could pretend to hide under my desk.
I decided it was best to have this guy on my side. I heard someone mention that he likes Dr. Pepper, so I found one in the local Western store and brought it in for him the next day. He laughed and showed it to his coworkers like a trophy, and I was in!
So I guess I thought he was kind of the school disciplinarian, but I soon figured out he was just one of those teachers we all have had who want you to take learning seriously, but if you put in the time and effort, he’s a really good guy and a jokester with the kids who have made it in his good graces. He also sings to himself at his desk, which is especially hilarious when we’re the only two people in the teacher’s room. I wish I could sing along.
Finally, there’s Sports Sensei. He is one of my favorite teachers that I don’t get to work with. I complimented his English when I first met him, and he made a weird face, which I soon understood. I guess he was just really good at introducing himself in English. Still, his English is much better than my Japanese, and we can still joke with the little words we know.
For example, he offered me a packet of soup one day, and after I tried it, I said in Japanese that it was “good,” which isn’t the same translation in English. So of course he smacked me over the head with a newspaper and taught me the word for “delicious.”
He laughs every day when he says “Good Morning” to me, I guess because he thinks it kind of rhymes with Lauren. This usually turns into a hilarious “Good Morning, Lauren” song.
My favorite recent development is his shock that I started eating a Japanese Bento Box for lunch. I used to have PB&J or a ham sandwich, but I really don’t like the bread here, so I just kind of winged it for a few days until I broke down and decided it would be easier to just get the teacher’s lunch that’s delivered every day.
The first day Sports Sensei saw I was eating a Japanese lunch, he shouted “Oh! Lunch Challenge!” as if I were on a Japanese Fear Factor game show. I thought it was hilarious. The lunch actually isn’t that bad, except when there are visible tails and suckers. And even then, I can just eat all the other stuff, or, you know, the pound of rice.
When I had it for a few days in a row, he seemed happily surprised that I stuck with it after my trial period, and he would run by and and scream with pride “Lunch Challenge!” and high-five me.
Now that it’s become a daily thing, he just asks me in a conversational tone, “Lunch Challenge?” Yes, lunch challenge.