I hadn’t been in a room filled with nothing but black people speaking nothing but English in 3 years. I’d forgotten what it was like. This was not the den of diversity that I had been boasting to the Japanese as the America I was a product of. And I had known this all along. I just needed something to use as defense Japanese persistence. Now, I felt a surge of my own hypocrisy.
I arrived at JFK International airport, American Airlines terminal. I don’t know if any of you have ever been there, but suffice it to say that by the time you get from the plane to the baggage rotary you know- without question- that you’re not in Kansas anymore. You walk about 12 miles through a twisting, drearily lit labyrinth of dingy carpet, droning smile-less staff, alongside 200 or so people who look like they’ve had the life vacuumed out of them. 14 hours in economy class will do that to most people.
“Well, what do you think Last Christmas is about?”
“Eeeee? It’s about Christmas, deshou?”
“Yeah, kinda. I mean, it’s about a guy who had a Christmas one-night stand with his gay lover who doesn’t even remember him a year later. I mean, if that’s appropriate, I don’t see why—”
“Are you sure?”
“I understand, though. I mean, he is an artist—a great one, at that, but c’mon,” I said. And then sang: “A man undercover but you tore me apart.”
I remember reading Iceberg Slim’s first book, Pimp: The Story of my Life, where he told the tale of how he got the name Iceberg. He was skiied out of his gourd at a bar one night. So much so that when someone started firing a gun in the bar, a bullet damn near taking him out, he barely moved, and it appeared to others that he had been too cool to move.
I was Iceberg Slim for a hot sec, minus the blow.
Teaching the use of “Must” and “Mustn’t” and using the difference between Japanese JHS and American JHS to illustrate, we ran into a little speed bump today that gave the whole class a pause. I explained: Japanese students must study English in JHS. Student: In American, too? Me: Yes, we must study English too…haha Student: [...]