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My 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM hour today was on my schedule as a demo class with three middle schoolers. I didn’t recognize their names, but because the school’s presently doing a marketing thing where the juku students can get three free English classes, I assumed they were juku kids.

Twenty minutes before my last period started, as I was carefully drawing a homemade Chutes and Ladders board, Madonna and one of her friends, Cheese, burst in. “Hello! Hello! Can we come!”

I do not, in fact, know Madonna’s real name. She and Peter Pan and Jack’o’Lantern have continued their policy of lying creatively when I ask them their names. I know Peter Pan’s now because I got the manager to tell me, but I haven’t had a chance to make him rat out the others.

So I had two middle school girls, so I assumed they were going to be the demo lesson, and had gotten bored and shown up early. I got them to help me finish the game board, and then we played Jenga and formed sentences involving fruit (because the fruit poster was right over the table, and Madonna is for some reason eternally fascinated by the fruit poster). Some sentences involving One Piece also got in there, because Madonna’s taste in manga apparently extends beyond Saiyuki.

Then at 8:00, the manager showed up with not one unknown kid but three. “So, wait. Five students?” I asked him, pointing to the Jenga-players. “Should I take all five?”

Apparently not; he told Madonna and Cheese that they couldn’t stay in the classroom because I had to teach a class (oh, come on, don’t make me the bad guy here). “No! No!” said Madonna in English. “It’s cool! Let us! It’s cool!” Then, in Japanese, “Suzushii!”

Suzushii means “cool” in the literal sense. The juku classroom’s AC is pretty crappy, and the owner won’t let them turn it up all the way. The English classroom’s AC, on the other hand, is under my control, and he will wrest that control from cold, dead hands.* Gosh, you guys, it’s so nice to be wanted for my classroom’s air conditioner.

But they bowed to the manager’s demands and left, and I taught the demo. (It was fine, if not as cheerful as a demo involving Madonna and Cheese would have been. The boy had clearly been forced into this by his parents, and wouldn’t talk above a mutter until I started calling him Ponyo and got the girls to go along with it. Then his outrage gave him strength.)

* Sniping About My Bosses Corner, Do Not Read If You’re Not In The Mood For Morons: The manager spent May and June telling me to either keep the AC on its lightest setting or turn it off, which I went along with. It was annoying, but not enough that I felt like fighting with him about it – the kids don’t really care, and as previously mentioned, and I’ve had my own AC turned off most of the summer so that I’m kind of acclimated.

The Eikaiwa classes are the only ones at the school that involve any physical activity, so it’s honestly not reasonable to keep the AC in the English room on the same level as in the rooms the sitting-down classes use. But I figured that he was the one who had to deal with it when the parents started complaining that their kids were coming out of English class dripping sweat.

A couple weeks ago, it got hot enough that the parents started complaining. His preference for avoiding responsibility being what it is, he broached the subject to me by telling me I smelled sweaty. Yeah, that can happen, man.

So I’ve been keeping the AC on full blast since then. If he complains I get to remind him that he finds my odor offensive. I’m preparing a truly terrifying smile for this day, should it come.

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