Close Encounters

Perhaps if you’ve lived in a foreign country, or are a minority language speaker living in an Anglo one, you’ve had to deal with young people making fun of your language. It happens to us here in Japan all the freaking time, from the annoying kid in my daughter’s class who makes English-y sounds and waves his hands at me, to the gangsta-wannabe high school boys who yell “Sex!” when we walk by. Seriously, both kids were with me. Real tough guys, right.

I’m always at a loss as to how to deal with these encounters. I don’t want to turn the kids off English forever. They might be potential students and ca-ching at some point in the future, after all.

Today on the way home from the kids’ swimming lesson, we passed two innocent looking junior high school boys. Well, innocent as far as junior high school boys go, I guess. They had on ぴかぴか brand new gym uniforms, which was a dead give-away that they were seventh graders, first years here in Japan. Give those uniforms another month or so and they’ll be walking themselves into the laundry, I’m sure.

As we passed by on our bikes, Me First was singing at the top of his lungs, as is his cycling time habit. Me Too was singing as well, but a different song (of course.) I guess it was inevitable that we would face adolescent scorn.

They weren’t tough enough to say anything to my face; they almost never are. And these boys were only first years, so they didn’t know much English yet. As I drove by, one of them yelled, “I’mu hongoree!”

Well, dad-nab-it, I was hungry, too. I stopped my bike, turned around and said, “I’m hungry, too! What’s for dinner?”

To which the boys replied, and I quote:


Me First got a good laugh out of that, and then translated what I’d said to them. At this point Boy A started to feel brave and said, “I’m hungry MAX!”

I love how the first-year kids are so willing to experiment with English.

He’ll probably go to school tomorrow and brag about this encounter. In another two years, if he’s
like most of the other junior high kids I used to teach, they will have tested all of the enthusiasm out of him. What a shame, a waste MAX.

Now I just need to think of a good response to the “Sex!” thing.

It’s getting old.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Susie
    Apr 18, 2013 @ 04:13:22

    Ha! Good answer, those ones that catch people off guard are the best. When confronted with “Sex,” I usually reply female. Not the most clever but it is a quite obvious answer I would think. If you find a more clever response please share.


  2. gaijinwife
    Apr 18, 2013 @ 18:01:04

    Sex MAX eburi day.


  3. heather
    Apr 19, 2013 @ 21:46:33

    Sex? No thanks. :)


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