To: newsletter
From: "Peter M. Rivard"
Subject: Admirer

Hey, all,

      Do you remember how much, when you were in junior high school, you would have loved to receive a mash note from the prettiest girl (or coolest boy) in the school? Well, it's a little sad when it happens 17 or 18 years too late--but still sweet and flattering, in a different way. "Mash note" is a big exaggeration, to be sure, but the adorable Junka-chan made up a really sweet note, done up around a nice Jack O’Lantern and Halloween décor, telling me she likes me a lot and wants to talk to me every day, thanking me for helping her prepare for the speech contest and, oddly, for a tiny Kit Kat bar she’d already thanked me for (I had given out Halloween candy from my desk on Monday, adding "Trick or Treat" to every student's vocabulary). She’s a sweety. I’m sure she won’t do anything embarrassing or worrying, so I don’t have to be upset--just touched. I do love my kids--and I’m starting to think of them as "my kids," even the little worm who tried to tell me his classmate’s name was "Kuso" (which is Japanese for "shit"; I pretended to think he was telling me his own name instead and addressed him, frequently throughout the class and with a transparent feint of innocence, as "Kuso-kun"). One addresses boys as "-kun" and girls as "-san." With girls one knows and with whom one wants to use something warmer and less distancing than the stiff "-san" one can use "-chan"--hence "Junka-chan." "-San" would be a bit of a cold shoulder.

      Oh, and Alice (a.k.a. Yukari-chan) asked me, through my supervisor, for my address. I asked afterward and found out it was because she wanted to send me a New Year's card--which cleared up a small mystery because several other girls had also asked for my address, which I'd given out a bit uncomfortably.

      That's it for adventure, other than wobbling back on my bike through the rice from the opposite end of town after an office party last night--really, I wasn't that wobbly, although I did discover that, on being shown the Kyoto-sensei's (vice-principal's) wife waiting in the parking lot for him to wobble out, if one says quietly to another teacher, "very young-looking, isn't she," there's a good chance that he'll wobble up to the Kyoto-sensei and shout something like "hey, Kyoto-sensei, Peter-sensei says your wife looks very young" if you don't hit him quickly enough. Fortunately, my reflexes are still pretty fast. Here, of course, my remark wouldn't have been taken amiss (or I wouldn't have made it--I've learned from colleagues' mistakes exactly how far to trust a drunk teacher's discretion), but, with my American sensibilities, I didn't want to embarrass my boss' wife with this bozo ("Bozo-sensei"?) shouting across the parking lot.

      Such is life--obviously, I'm having a pretty good time here, and I hope you're having as a good a time wherever you may be.



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