Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A Brief Update

As is the human tendency, I haven't found too much in the past few weeks worthy of note. Teaching English in China has become routine. Now, I realize that I have family members and friends reading this, and I try to keep the ol' blog PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned, may contain some scenes that are inappropriate for small children), but there are times when the sheer vastness that is China can only be properly expressed through somewhat coarser language. So here's a few ways that Cathay has managed to blindside tackle me and reassert itself as a place that is, to quote the parlance of our times, damned insane. Here are a few examples.

A girl in one of my classes was wearing a sweatshirt that said "Candy Stripper" in big, colorful letters. The court that is known as Ben's common sense convened for the case of Letting A Girl Go On Wearing That Shirt v. A Very Potentially Awkward Conversation Involving Pantomimes That Would Destroy The Dignity Of All Involved. Both sides offered good points, but ultimately things erred on the side of keeping my mouth shut after a stunning oratory from the part of my brain that likes to take the easy way out of things.

I was invited to a party being thrown by my Business English students. Now, I assumed that it would be a normal party, I could show up, say hello, have some punch and leave. How wrong I was. "Party" here is apparently interchangeable for "Talent Show". And once again, I was given the guest of honor seat, front and center. There was dancing, singing, and short comedy sketches. I can't honestly tell you too much about it, because I really, really had to pee the whole time, but I didn't want to miss anyone's bit.  It did mean that the experience wasn't what I'd call "fun."

Finally, this week I was teaching basic Western manners, topics ranging from, "Don't talk about people's age or weight" all the way to, "if there's a line, stand in it". Anyway, I was telling them that if you really want to be polite, no matter what happens you stay calm and nice and never show that you're shocked or offended. Then later on, the class asked me if I enjoyed their performance from the night before. I said, "Oh, it was great." One girl in the class raised her hand and asked me if I was just saying that to be polite. The first thing to cross my mind was "She's too smart for her own good." I was able to tell her, "Of course I'm being sincere this time!". Then I changed the subject.

I hereby vow to never teach them anything they can use against me again.

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