The Notorious Enormous Massive

I think I’m going to forget about things that make sense and just title these entries like I did today: with t-shirt slogans.  “The Notorious Enormous Massive”, nice.


I am dazzling with sweat like a convenience store doughnut.  There will be no illusion of keeping cool today.  One of the Shinagawa teachers just laughed, actually, at my dripping, bedraggled, and wild-eyed self. Initially I took this as him scoffing at my inability to gracefully walk two miles through the 95º fog of humidity that separates my hotel room and my school; the RealFeel is reportedly 105.  How the natives continue to wear things like pants and nude hosiery is beyond me, because if I were in charge, my first order of business would be to institute a city-wide uniform of clam shells and fig leaves.  But then I noticed the guy’s twinkling eyes, and heard him chase the laughter with “kawaii,” the Japanese word for cute.  

He then pointed at his head, which I can interpret one of two ways:

1)His brain is pleased with my appearance, which is highlighted by the shirt I chose this morning out of sheer woodheadery.  It’s got 3/4 length sleeves, and it used to be white but is currently transparent from the sweat that is pouring out of me like a catastrophic dam break.  This is definitely disconcerting, and probably illegal in a school.

2) There’s a flower in my hair corresponding exactly to the part of his head to which he pointed.  

Oh.  It’s probably that one.

Now I’m in music class with 36 seventh graders and their recorders.  This looks like big fun because I never had a music class in school, but nobody has given me an instrument, and also nobody’s talking to me, so screw them!  I’m taking to my notebook to write things about yesterday.  

Yesterday was an exercise in hyperbolic living, and boy did we exercise.  It’s apparently the hottest week in 10 years, mind you, so this was no easy task.  For the first two hours, we walked around the Shinagawa History Museum and shell mounds, and I quickly degenerated from trying to be a role model for the Lyman Moore kids who’ve joined me here to giving up on that in order to focus my efforts on not complaining about all of our shared and exaggerated grievances.  We weren’t hot, we were dying like magnifried ants.  The bugs weren’t biting, they were boring into our sensitive skin like winos with corkscrews.  And we weren’t hungry, we were famished like the war-torn African poster children, listlessly swatting the flies as the vultures patiently circle.

I know.  The feeble whines of the spoiled first world.  Believe me, I know how lucky I am to be here, especially after yesterday afternoon!

The fortune cookie of my life became very apparent at Odaiba, where at 2:00 we finally landed for a happy lunch at the all-you-can-shovel buffet.  It was here that a former student- now a ninth grader- recommended what was the best soup we’d maybe ever tasted.

Oh, I was atremble with excitement over this one.  I delight in recipe replication, and get giddily enthusiastic when I taste something new and delicious that is also potentially makeable.  

Once, when I lived in Charleston, my salivary glands got all turned on by this sexy etouffe that made use of a shrimp or a crawfish or something else Bubba Gumpy with a face.  So during shrimp season in Maine, I decided to give it a whirl.  I put at least a stick of butter in there and added some other rich and delectables, but the result, ladled sparingly over rice, was still a bit overwhelming to the tongue buds.  John, however, came home and had a field day with what he thought was soup, eating two heaping bowls full before crumpling to the couch, gently massaging his belly and muttering derogatory things about dairy.

This was hysterically funny to me until yesterday, when I found out the two bowls of soup I ate were sauce.  That meal didn’t mesh well with the pants-fitting project I’m currently managing, so… bummer.

Dave then came over with some excellent news: there was some sort of Sega Playstation aim game in the urinals!

“Grab your cameras, kids,” I said, “we’re going to the bathroom!”

Exhibit A, from Things You Only Repeat to People When You’re Sure They Know the Context.

Exhibit B: I also sort of bought my students cigarettes.

Here’s my defense:

The Odaiba souvenir mall includes a shop of Japanese sweets.  Thus, I proceeded to watch while the young ‘uns gave me a live-action spectacular of why an excited person is described as “like a kid in a candy store”.  They went absolutely nutso and honed in on the orange and cola flavored sugar cigs.  I let curiosity kill me like an emphysemic, diabetic cat and grabbed a box myself.  Since it had only been minutes since the kids had received their first spending money, and since I had mine in easy-access small bills, and since the whole thing cost less than two American dollars, I sprung for the packs like a champ.

“Holy smokes, I just bought them cigarettes,” I thought appropriately.

And unfortunately, what happens in Japan stays on the Internet for life.  Begging forgiveness from all of you.
Despite Legoland’s proximity to the sweet shop and our repeated chanting of its name, we had to forego a visit in order to make room for an hour’s worth of photo shoots.  Normally this would annoy me, but I was having way too much fun with all the kids, who speak English so well and have such good senses of humor!  Everything continued to be hyperbolic, but in a decidedly better way.  Funny?  No.  Gut-clutching, floor-rolling hysteria.  Lego figure?  No.  Life-sized, building blocked samurai.  


Truth?  My smile parts were as sore as my leg parts last night, and Dave’s pedometer said I walked 12 miles throughout the day.  Not too shabs for 95 and humid.

And now I’m excited to see what today holds.  If I ever make it out of this interminable computer class- the PCs have floppy drives but nobody gave me a login, sooooo… writing again- I’m scheduled for another Tokyo walking tour.

(I’ll try to keep Parole Model in her cell.)


Epilogue: turns out today’s special was Asakasa, which was the place with the fake-looking temple and sick-looking bride.  No thanks on that one; it’s mostly souvie shops anyway.  My only souvenir plan is to pack the bag I borrowed from my sister with all the weirdest 7/11 food I can find and take pictures of my nieces’ and nephew’s faces when they see it.  Since I’ve got some empty time now here, I’m going to play an hour of basketball with a couple of first graders and then park it back in the air conditioned teacher’s room.  

Maybe rustle up a few of my remaining electrolytes for the sticky and sweat-soaked trek home.


2 thoughts on “The Notorious Enormous Massive

  1. Colleen Foster says:

    Are there actually Lyman Moore students there? They were just CANDY cigarettes, right?


    • Yep- they’re staying with host families as part of the sister city student exchange. Apparently it was only by coincidence that I was assigned to the same school, but I’m glad! And of COURSE they were candy- I would never… gross… (but honestly it’s bad enough that it was candy…)


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