*We are making sentences in the form “The [thing] I associate with [person] is [thing].”*
Heteronormativity-san: “The color that I associate with Screech-san is -”
Screech-san: You stop right there! Right there!
Heteronormativity-san: “- is purple, because… which… whichever – is it whether -”
Biiru-sensei: Oh, because you can’t tell whether he’s a man or a woman!
Screech-san: SENSEIIII! Why?!
Heteronormativity-san: Right, right.
I’ve only met two regular teachers here who are married. One, Chiisai-Koe-sensei, is very timid and easily startled, puts incredible time and effort into making cute lunch boxes for her kids, and suspects it might be a little inappropriate for her to play Wii Sports. The other is Kaboom-sensei.
Kaboom-sensei is the only teacher I’ve ever heard complain about the school. I think she might be the only female teacher I’ve heard complain about anything with more volition than the Shinkansen. When she doesn’t feel like starting class yet, she talks about stuff that annoys her. Sometimes she turns these catalogs of irritations into cautionary tales, on the basis that she is a grandmother, and we young folk have a social responsibility not to annoy grandmothers. This week, she experienced something extremely traumatic:
“Someone in this class did a speech about girls who do their makeup on the train, right? Was it – it was Dragon-san! Oh, on the train today, I saw something really bad. There was a girl, and she was doing her makeup, and I thought, “Ohhhh…” – and then, she took out this pair of scissors! And she just cut across her bangs, like this -” (demonstrates, her expression tragic) “She was just cutting her hair in the middle of the train! Everyone, please, when you become parents, talk to your children! Tell them not to do things like this! As a grandmother, seeing that girl doing that… ohhh, it made me so sad!”
She routinely throws weird stuff into normal class. She’ll explain colloquial terms for drunkenness and plastic surgery, and form example sentences relating to the other teachers. If asked to do so outside of class, she will be perfectly happy to explain the most natural way to deride the size of a man’s member. Some of the stuff she says would be a little much even in the US, and given the exaggerated peppiness most of the younger female teachers here affect, she can be pretty startling.
I feel like she’s a pretty good example of 1) how sexist Japan is, and 2) how serious it still is about revering your elders. Younger Japanese women are generally extremely, extremely careful to keep the stuff they say clean, and to be dressed nicely and have one of the six or seven approved haircuts. Kaboom-sensei, though, is a grandmother. She doesn’t have to do that shit anymore. She’s not a senior teacher at the school – but she’s older than the senior teachers, so they can’t censure her.
When Biiru-sensei comes into the room, the younger woman teachers (even Doom-sensei, who very politely doesn’t care) stop whatever they’re doing and pay attention to him. But Kaboom-sensei’s just as likely to ignore him and keep explaining whatever cuss word she’s decided we need to know today. And he just waits patiently, and uses polite-style language when she finally finishes making out her little list of Important Adultery Vocabulary and turns to talk to him. She has mysterious powers.