Just a quickie--more on the taste for cutesy and English.
At the entrance to Go-chu (one of my two schools), there is a plant with a signpost in it, the little plastic kind that normally tells you what the plant is, but the sign contains only the unexplained statement that "Mickey is a natural leader and the smartest of the Disney crew."
Saturday, a teacher who is out on maternity leave gave each of the rest of us, as the event requires, a gift to commemorate the birth of her son and to apologize for being away from work: a beautifully wrapped box containing two bars of Snoopy and His Friend Relax Herb soap and two of Snoopy and His Friend Refresh Herb soap. Each bar comes in its own wrapper, which informs us in English, "Snoopy is the world famous beagle and the revered pet of Charlie Brown."
I'm coaching a girl at 5-chu in a speech contest, and her original draft contained the following gem about her father:
Except this, I think the worst thing [is that] he do not mind make gas. This is the worst thing others to see absolutely. Besides, this gas very very smell and I don't think he eat the same food me.
You should see this kid (Marie)--she's so cute. She's fifteen but looks a lot younger, short and a bit plump, with a sweet smile and a pageboy haircut. Even cuter, she comes in a set--she's got an identical twin with the same plumpness and the same hairstyle (even a matching given name--"Yurie"). Then she gets up and tells you all about her father's farting. What a little charmer. (Yurie's speech was about how mean Marie is to her.) I kind of enjoy how nobody keeps their family's dirty laundry hidden around here.
PS--People continue to offer me their condolences about the attacks on New York. One man I met once or twice and who only remembered my name and that I worked at Manyo sent me a very nice card there. The Japanese are very much on our side; people have been telling me over and over how strong and how important the bond between our countries is.