From: Peter Rivard
Subject: Becoming citizens of the world
I love it when my kids bring in a little bit of foreign culture without any prompting from me, even more so when they can combine it with what I've been teaching them. This week's lessons for the first years (seventh graders) have taught the question form "Are you ________ (person, adjective, noun, from America, asinine cartoon character, etc)?" I'm sure you're aware that the big buzz in Japan now is the World Cup, which is being shared with Korea. Japan's sudden exposure to the world is bringing new attention to the cultures of the soccer-loving countries (i.e., those countries that don't use the word "soccer"). The newspapers and TV are teaching people new words and new ideas about the world around them. This morning in the hall before class, one boy, eager to show off his understanding of English culture, accosted me with the question, "Are you hoorigan?" Gawd, I love these kids!
Yes, England, your reputation in Japan is assured. Headline news every day revisits your worst real hooligan disasters and your most damning hooligan apocrypha (so much so that I think the word "hoorigan" is now permanently established in Japanese, no longer requiring any explanation), with more money set aside for extra police training, contingency plans to bring in the Army (not what it was in the fearful department, alas, so don't laugh at the poor little chaps in their funny brown hats when it comes time to knock 'em down), businesses and private homes installing steel riot shutters, and warnings to stay off the streets. I'm sure every Japanese who manages to score tickets to a game fully expects to be urinated upon, and I'd be surprised if no one is selling special protective World Cup Hooligan Urine ponchos. If you should come here and find the locals running away from you in terror, or if your eighty-two year old mum should be pinned to the wall in arrivals and searched by 150 police in full riot gear who seem scared out of their wits by her, don't be surprised.
By the way, am I hoorigan? I answered "yes" and pretended to beat the kid. Life is good.
O genki de,