Subject: Slow learner
I was going over some stuff on my web site because I'm giving a "How to make a web site" presentation to some JETs Monday, and I noticed the following in a letter from about a year ago. It's funny to look back after you've figured something out and see how clueless you were. Anyway, I wrote:
It was only in the last two or three months of school that this girl had shown any interest in talking to me, so I never got to know her well, especially since her English wasn't strong and about half of our conversations ended with her in the sort of hysterical fit described above. I can't boast that I figured out the reason through my own intelligence.
The poor girl had to spell it out for me. The day before graduation, Yuko called me over as she was getting ready to leave for the day. In the middle of the lobby, she took my hand, and said in English, "I love you." I honestly thought she was kidding, because I'd taken all of her previous strange behavior as humor and because I hadn't had any other hints that she might feel that way. But she held onto my hand for a full minute. Hmmm. The next day, the teachers and first and second year students formed a corridor outside school through which the just-graduated third-years had to pass. As she was leaving, Yuko came up and hugged me. She started sobbing and pressed her face into my lapel. I'm sure I must have looked like a deer in the headlights to all the other kids--I was absolutely stuck. I'm not comfortable having much physical contact with female students, even when it would be absolutely normal for most American teachers (my inner Bostonian, I suppose), but I soon realized that I had to put my arm around her shoulders so as not to be completely cold, and we stood there like that for three or four very long minutes, with more and more students and a few teachers looking over at me and chuckling, probably more at my discomfiture than at Yuko's behavior. That was when I finally realized she hadn't been kidding.
This year, I don't think there are any surprises coming, but I think there's one likely crier and one or two possible (not including those girls likely to cry just because they're 15 year-old girls) at Manyo.