Monday, November 28, 2005

Temporarily Polite

I find it sometimes difficult to relay the events of my life to others, not because I lack for words, not that in itself anyway, but because I have trouble actually getting them to fit in my head at all. The absurdity of some of the days of my life take a full step above what I'm easily able to pigeonhole as simply idiotic or strange and into the realm of the sitcom and cinematic. I am hesitant on a level to share this here, because I have been initiated into some the adventures my co-peers have led and my life, as a sum, tends to pale against these. Hesitancy be damned, I say. I will now do my best to establish how unusual today was.

While teaching today at Sesoko Island Middle School, that wretched hive of sullen students, I was once again pressing the feeble confines of my teaching knowledge to try to break through the firmest bastion of all the tight-lipped dour-mongers, the second years. However today was different. I had the night before a lit on what seemed to me, alone and masterful at self-delusion, a brilliant grammar demonstration – a skit that revolved around me buying an egg. Now to my mind the key to the whole piece was the egg itself, a prop that would be represented by an actual real egg provided by myself. I smuggled my egg into the school refrigerator, handling it quite gingerly – knowing that the integrity of its shell was paramount to my inspired teaching scheme. Secrecy was desired, if not actively sought, for the moment of delight I would surely garner from suddenly producing the piece de'reistance, as it were, from nowhere.

Nothing unusual yet I hope. It is often my assumption that outsiders (people who are not me) are entirely capable of following the flow of my logic – I have been disabused of this notion a number of times but carry on anyway, my assertions of sanity depend upon it.

As I present my plan to the English teacher, a woman who I am still not comfortable with, it becomes quite evident that what sounded golden in my head warranted at least a few minutes more in the revision process before it's presentation. I attempt to back out, but she assures me that 'no it's fine, really'. We act it out, a small crowd of teachers begins to gather obsequiously. Nobody is exactly wowed yet, but my enthusiasm shows through and my teacher is a willing partner – it's actually looking like this might be just the thing, and then we reach the part with the egg.

"You bet me, bet me, that I can not possibly break an egg in one hand?"
Yes she does, adamantly. But she is confused, and ill timed distractions have prevented her from reaching the end of the text yet. There is perhaps the hint of concern on her brow over just where this is going.

Now I would like to assert here that I have had plenty of experience with this trick. I've revised it every few years since I learned it at a tender impressionable age, never have I been able to break an egg in one hand. Everyone, can I try and convince you that I'm not an idiot. I take precautions over these things, intelligent countermeasures. Before bringing this whole thing up I tested the egg over my own sink. I squeezed hard on that egg, harder than I ever have – it showed not the barest sign of weakness, I even switched to another egg to make sure the one I had tested hadn't suffered some sort of hairline fracture. I throughly checked my hands for any protrusions or irregularities, I made sure my grip was sound and even. I'm quite familiar with the mechanics of this trick, and in my memory I have squeezed as hard as possible on an egg and it had remained steadfast...hadn't it? To be honest, I wasn't absolutely sure, and somewhere I had a faint memory of an egg crumpling in my grip – but that was probably something unrelated.

At any rate, it was time to dispel all doubt. I produced the egg, the egg from home, and displayed it in my grip, the gap in my fingers prominently displayed to the watching semicircle of teachers. I really squeezed down on that egg hard, and it gave not a bare inch.

"Sensei," I said, "It is impossible for me to break an egg in one hand."

But, I suddenly realized, to really sell the bit, to really entertain these stoic children when I got to them, I was going to have to really sell my grip. I clenched as hard as I could. The egg exploded in my grip, with a sound not unlike a gun shot. My English teacher ducked out of the way with truly admirable reflexes, it became clear later that even though she was standing right next to me she wasn't touched by a fleck of yoke. Miraculous, I thought, considering that all the table in front of me was sprayed with a wide spray of white and yoke. The half intact remains of the egg dripped sadly between my fingers. Much commotion was raised.

The lesson went well all the same. Without an egg (Sensei provided a nearby baseball as a substitute) I really had to sell the scene where she hits me in her car and, as hoped, it went over fantastic. The joviality with which I write this attests to my own limitation – the situation simply does not seem possible to me yet, not even given the long list of similarly unbelievable things I've done. I attempt to see the event from the other teacher's points of view. 90% of my audience didn't understand a word I was saying, to them the innocuous, new foreigner simply produced an egg, God knows from where, he must have brought in specially for this reason, holds it up for everyone to see, says something, and then exerts all his strength in order to smash it all over everything. They seemed to not show any offense, but I had to hurry off to class immediately afterwards, and their tune may change when the salmonella starts to get passed around.

Later, that evening, old men smuggled beverages out of a hotel in my shorts, but thats a story for another time.



Blogger Ryan said...

Hey Dave. I just discovered this your web based log. With any luck your Japanese students are scarred for life and now harbor many strange delusions regarding Westerners. Of course the Japanese are into all sorts of crazy shit that we don't understand, so maybe randomly exploding an egg during class was routine. You should have preceeded the action by "powering up," than after the egg explodes flashing the peace sign for victory; "Yatta!"

Keep those Orientals on their toes. Show them how unpredictable and destructive we AMERICANS really are.

11/30/05, 3:59 AM  

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