March quickly approaches and brings with it something refreshing and scary: change. Students graduate, the staff room shifts and moves, and more importantly, some teachers will leave and new teachers will replace them. We all will experience this during our time here in Aomori.
Over the years, there have been many times when I want to scream out in frustration at my supervisor (and there have only been two). Yet, my first supervisor created a plethora of memories that I can look back on and count myself lucky to have had the chance to work with him. One memory in particular holds a special place in my heart.
On a recent trip to Sapporo (where my old supervisor now resides and teaches), my boyfriend and I were able to set up an evening of food and drinks. When he sent me the ambiguous mail of “Fish or Meat?” in retrospect, I should have went with fish. (We were booked to go to Sapporo Beer Garden the next night with tons of lamb on the menu.) The next message he sent was simply, “Asahi Beer Garden. I will pick you up.” (Okay, more lamb it is.) His phone mails do a certain justice of reflecting the type of demeanor he possesses. A man of few words; the minimum needed to be understood, yet still add an air of mystery.
When we met, he had just finished school and basketball club, so he was hungry. Very hungry, but more importantly, very, very thirsty. The moment we sat down, he was quick to get the first round of beers announcing in English that he was a sponge. He was quick to “kampai” and even quicker to down the entire beer in just one sip. My boyfriend and I simply sat in abashed silence. Well then. He was indeed a “sponge”. Dinner went on, and my supervisor proved his prowess as a demolisher of both meat and beer while he drilled me on my present life in Aomori.
Towards the end of dinner, my boyfriend and I decided to secretly pay for the dinner while my supervisor was gone on a bathroom break. We thought we were in the clear as we got ready to leave, when he realized he hadn’t paid yet. That’s where the trouble started. He simply said, “No. That’s bad. You can’t pay for me.” I tried to explain at first that we wanted to treat him, since he’s always so good to me. But, he wouldn’t budge. My boyfriend then tried to explain to him that we just “pulled a fast one”, but he didn’t understand the expression. So we ordered a last beer and went into the English intricacies of explaining the idiom. He understood after a brief, and maybe slightly convoluted explanation (to throw him off), and announced it was time to go home.
My boyfriend and I sighed in relief, giddy that we were able to get away with our plan. At the entrance to the subway station, we said our good-byes. I promised my supervisor I’d be back soon to visit again. We all shook hands. Although when I took his hand, he had a strange look in his eyes. At first, I was nervous he would throw up or fall over because of how much beer he had consumed at dinner. And then, I thought that maybe he wanted a hug…which would be strange because he is not a cuddly person. But, people can surprise you sometimes. As he came closer, I felt myself start to burn with embarrassment and nervousness, and he grabbed my hand with both of his. Before I knew what had happened, he turned around quickly and ran down the subway stairs laughing like a maniacal schoolboy. I looked down to see he had stuffed a crumpled 5,000 yen bill into my hand. I yelled furiously at him at the unfairness of it all, but all I got back were more giggles and a final wave as he poked his head from around the wall below.
A few minutes later, my adorable supervisor sent me the message: “I pulled the fast one on you.”
Column Editor: Jacqueline Laibinis
Have you ever pulled or caught a fast one? Or maybe you have a different crazy, interesting, or just plain funny story to share from your time in Japan? Share it at firstname.lastname@example.org!