Monday, October 17, 2005

Report from the Discipline Committee

“English Corner”: My Inherited Vehicle for Promoting an Anglophonic Universe

After this Monday’s school assembly there was a rare (though in my days common) additional lecture from the school’s discipline officer (the Japanese teacher). He took about twenty minutes to softly rebuke the heartless people who were responsible for the recent rise in vandalism in the classrooms and hallways. Towards the very end of his sleepy lecture I was caught off guard by the barely recognizable focal point of the lengthy reprimand: “Even Ruku-sensei’s English corner has been subjected to this sort of soulless behaviour.” While I was mildly embarrassed to realize that this exercise had been conducted out of consideration for my feelings (both the discipline officer and the school principle personally apologized to me in the course of the day for the “soulless deeds” that had taken place under their watch), I was at the same time enthusiastically eager to see what sort of depraved mischief had been done to my photo story. During my first free period I popped upstairs to the English Corner with my camera, expecting to find toilet-time graffiti and giant, multi-specie caricatures of phalluses and mammary glands arranged in naughty ways—the sort of things that one would expect at a junior high school and that would make great photo illustrations for an interesting article on school life in Japan. So it was quite an anti-climax to discover (after a moment of not seeing anything amiss at all) that the only damage done was that my eyes were scratched out in the picture of me hugging a foal (or maybe a colt, what do I know about horse age?).

Hardly the dramatic hate crime I had been led to expect. It looks like the sort of thing that the boy in my special ed class would do in an angry moment after being told off by me for punching the girl in the special ed class. When those two are in a bad mood they sometimes pin up ぶたるく(they mean豚ルーク: “pigluke”) drawings of me that resemble a porcine happy face. They do it to the other teachers as well. But then again, it might have been the third year bad boys who like to nonchalantly shoulder butt the thirty-year-old woman English teacher in the hallways. I can’t say that I blame them for hating English. I can still remember the time in grade two when my parents put me in a Canadian school for a couple of months. Sometime during my first week there, this stylish, mean looking middle-aged woman came into our class and had us all sit on the carpet at the back of the room. Oh, goodie, story time!! She opened to the first page of her book with a picture of a bear in pyjamas yawning in bed—oh goodie, goodie!—and then she opened her mouth and all that came out was something about “Le papa blah blah blah . . . .” She never regained my respect after that, and weeks later my displeasure with her grew into a passionate hostility when she confiscated a GI Joe I was playing with while she was going on again about “L'ours de papa” being “a faim.”

Post Script: Hopefully replacing the old photos of me and a bunch of wild horses with photos of their cute little brothers and sisters harvesting rice will remove from the soulless people’s bosoms any temptation to further desecrate English Corner.