Tuesday, February 07, 2006

My underhair

So, along the lines of the previous post about fascination with my hair. This week in the aforementioned homeroom, all the kids were working on skits in pairs at their desks, which mostly involves them chatting with each other and me periodically yelling at them from my desk to shut up and practice. A girl from the English club, Azusa, and her partner were particularly loud, whispering to each other and breaking out into fits of giggles with their hands over their mouths. Finally, I had to ask Azusa what their problem was. Apparently, her partner, Marina, kept trying to get Azusa to ask me a question for her, since Azusa knows me personally from our club activity. Azusa wouldn't, explaining she was worried if she asked me I would get really angry at her.

I roll my eyes at her. I have had many similar experiences during my first week at the school, in which students would take 10 minutes of frenzied conferencing, agonzing, and prodding until one would work up the courage, flushing deep red, to ask me something as innocuous as, "Do you have a girlfriend?" To get them to go back to work, I just told Marina she could ask me whatever she wanted. I figure I can't be embarassed, angered, or shocked by anything this girl might ask. After repeatedly assurances, Marina came up to the front of the class where I was sitting.

She dances around for a while in anxiety about asking her question, looking back frequently at her friends and wringing her hands. Finally, she takes a deep breath, gathers her strength, leans in and, pointing at my golden arm hair, asks quietly, "Is your underhair gold?" I get really confused at first, and repeat, "My underhair?" She makes her meaning clear by again saying, "Gold?" this time while pointing directly at my crotch.

I laugh at this, because I mean, sure she's being rude - especially to ask this of a teacher - but when I look up into her eyes I see no guile, just doe-eyed curiousity. And, I did foolishly insist she could "ask anything." Of course, I refuse to answer though, because this is hardly the kind of thing I should be discussing in class, aside from the fact that I don't like being treated like a circus animal.

L: "I'm not answering that."
M: "But you said I could ask anything!"
L: "You can ask, yes, but I never said I would answer. (I pat myself on the back mentally for this rejoinder) Why do you want to know anyway?"
M: "Hmm...because I want to learn about different cultures?"
L: "Marina, you know this is not a cultural question.
(Her response actually causes me to choke on a laugh because it's an unexpectedly witty response and I'm trying to be serious. I decide to play a card to end the discussion)
L: "No, I think it's just you being a little eroi (perverted)"

As intended, Marina goes crimson, drops the subject, and runs back to hide at her seat. Azusa and several other students are just in hysterics having been watching the whole time. The Japanese teacher, having overheard only the laughter, comes by and asks me what's going on. I shake my head, tell him it's nothing, and try to move on with the class.

After the bell rings Marina comes up with a worried look and asks me in her little Japanese voice, quaking, "Adams-sensei, do you hate me now?" I tell her no, of course, patting her on the shoulder with the general admonition to try to be a little more aware of boundaries of politeness. She nods and heads off and I try to laugh off the whole thing.

But in my mind she has left me with a suspicion that every student I see harbors the same curiosity in their mind each time I walk into the classroom.

So yeah, go JET program.


drcaa said...

You used good judgement. In the U.S. it would be sexual harrassment even if the student initiated the conversation

BigBro said...

Next time just say: "theres a big, red, one-eyed snake ready to strike if you must know"