I wrote me these suckers, too.
|Fun fact: I'm still continent!
|March 26, 2015
Naked on Campus in January: I Hate it When That Happens
An unexpected sight on a walkway between classroom buildings
The year in web-surfing got off to a rollicking start with a gem of an
item titled “University lecturer found naked on campus in Tokyo.” Rather
like the sometimes corroborating and sometimes contradicting Gospels, the
reports found on Japan Today, Kicker Daily News, and The Express Tribune (the International New York Times) all make unique contributions to a story that will, if I have anything
to say about it, be passed down through the ages.
I fear that, among my readers, there may actually lurk a few unhappy souls who have never in their lives experienced an illicit affair with a female Japanese university student whilst being a male faculty member of that same university. Therefore, I provide the service of decoding this story for you by synthesizing all accounts.
TOKYO: A 55-year-old Japanese university teacher stripped naked on campus in a bid to prove his love for a 21-year-old student, the school said Tuesday, only for his young amour to make off with his clothes. (The Express Tribune)
I don’t think amour means what the Tribune thinks it means, which is pretty shocking for a
website that purports to be associated with The New York Times. Amour refers to the love affair itself, not to a person; moreover, amour implies a veil of secrecy over the affair, and as we shall see, this particular
couple sucks pretty badly at discretion. Perhaps the writer was aiming
for paramour, but dammit Jim, I’m a doctor, not a mind-reader.
According to the letter posted on Taisho University’s website, the part-time lecturer (whose name has not been given) was spotted by a student at around 3 p.m. on January 8 on a walkway between buildings on campus, wearing nothing but the skin he was born in. (Japan Today)
Good, solid reporting there. I don’t know about you, but I’m eager to learn
more. As a 59-year-old lecturer at a Tokyo-area university who has spent
half his career in part-time status, and one who has often been spotted
on walkways between campus buildings, and one who has often been naked,
though thus far never all of those things at the same time, I’m already
developing a solid sense of investment in one of the central characters.
The older man, who taught computer sciences at Tokyo’s Taisho University, was left in the buff after de-robing in public at his live-in lover’s request.
The teacher, who was not named, told officials his girlfriend had ordered him to “take off your clothes right there if you want me to trust you”. (The Express Tribune)
Hold on, Express Tribune: why “older man”? There’s only one male character
in this saga so far. Older just seems gratuitous, given this gentleman’s spring-chicken status vis-à-vis
my own age. Okay, I have inadvertently left our hero naked, so back to
the story. Before we all start licking our lips a bit too ostentatiously,
here is another, slightly different account:
The lecturer had apparently been living together with a 21-year-old student for about six months. (While there is some speculation about their relationship, the official letter only mentions the fact that they were living together, with her parents’ permission.) When they ran into each other on campus on the day of the awkward event, however, their conversation somehow escalated into an argument. Finally, the female student reportedly demanded: “If you want me to believe you, then take off all your clothes right here.” (Japan Today)
Somehow the “with parents’ permission” angle drains a fair portion of the
joy out of the story, does it not? Or is it just me? Anyway, let me segue
into professor mode here to point out that the Japanese verb shinzuru includes the divergent meanings trust and believe, so both translations are possible.
Another translation issue seems to be whether the student requested removal of “all” clothes or just unspecified “clothes.” Maybe he was wearing one of those Cosby sweaters, which offended her, and the rest was just a zany mix-up?
But after stripping to demonstrate his dependability, his beau — who was said to be “emotionally unstable” at times — picked up his clothes and ran off. (The Express Tribune)
I think we need to take up a collection and get a new thesaurus for the
beleaguered staff of The Express Tribune. Beau does indeed mean lover, but only the penis-having kind. There’s also an
egregious dangling participle there, but don’t get me started on that.
As a former copy editor, it makes me sick to my stomach. I’m going to go
crap long greasy ones in the o-furo if this keeps up. Let’s move on.
Let it be noted that the more cautious Japan Today is hedging its bet on the nature of the relationship, but I think The Express Tribune is justified in playing the lover card here. Anyway, it’s a funner story that way, and it’s a journalist’s duty to fun things up for us.
According to the teacher, the student was emotionally unstable at the best of times. She would get worked up so suddenly and to such an extent that he was never sure of how to react, so he figured it would be best to do as she said, thinking that if he didn’t, then things would never be resolved. (Japan Today)
So it seems the teacher is the source of the “emotionally unstable” meme—or don’t you call that
a meme? After all, it’s appeared twice now. How many iterations are needed
to attain meme status?
Anyway, I think my role here is to provide some perspective to those of you who, as of the beginning of this post, were bereft of sex-having-with-female-university-students-whilst-teaching-at-that-university experience, and perhaps still are.
In retrospect, I guess I lucked out with my lone student paramour. Though
she was apt to get jumpy over the prospect of our relationship becoming
public knowledge (and thereby ending up as fodder for three websites),
she was otherwise the more stable party in the relationship. So it is hard
for me to put myself into a scenario whereby my lover suddenly commands
me to remove all my clothes outdoors in January and then runs off with
I’m pretty sure that I would have demurred, and let the emotional chips
fall where they may. Push come to shove, I might have gone topless for
her. Journal records from my days at NU reveal some instances of shirt
removal on my part at very little prompting from NU females—like, for example,
none whatsover.* I was the veritable Captain Kirk of NU.
But my topless episodes tended to occur at private parties, not on random
weekday afternoons on campus walkways. But removal of pants and underwear?
For a random audience, not limited to students who know me and my charming
quirks? No, no way.
“I apologise that what I did, which I did to protect my loved one, resulted in such a situation,” the chastened lecturer later told his students. (The Express Tribune)
So, did this solemn and very Japanese apology take place after the recovery of his wardrobe or...? In the absence of confirmation, we
can at least dream.
“The instructor acted to assuage the woman’s insecure feelings but admitted it was an extremely careless thing to do. He expressed his intention to resign,” the school said in a statement. (The Express Tribune)
The intention to resign, likewise, is very Japanese. Still, the question
of whether or not the offer was made naked is left frustratingly unaddressed.
The student was later located and returned the clothes, local media reported, adding that the pair then went home together. (The Express Tribune)
Okay. So, all’s well that ends well, eh wot?
The statement detailing the events, written by the president of the university and posted on the establishment’s website, along with the teacher’s apology, has understandably garnered quite a bit of attention from the Japanese online community.
“Very straightforward – a nice composition.”
“I was more surprised to read that he was living with a student than by the fact he got naked.”
“Reading this document, I can tell the university president sympathizes a bit with the teacher; how funny.”
“That stupid girl ought to be expelled.”
“What a nice story.”
“I hope no one got hurt in this incident.”
“Shouldn’t this girl drop out of school too?”
It was the second comment that seized my attention . Really? The getting
naked part was not the most surprising aspect for you?
I subsequently tried to concoct possible news items that would surprise me more than word of a fellow fifty-something faculty member deliberately stripping naked on campus, and eventually came up with these:
Vice President Biden Found to Possess Secret Antlers Hidden in Weave
Dole Ketchup Proven Effective in Luring Zombie Pandas into Quicksand
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Renounces ISIS Emirship to Prep for Daily Show Hosting Duties
I could go on, but I don’t think “teacher living in sin with a student” is going to make the list no matter how hard I brainstorm.
Ultimately, though, a disturbing theme running through these comments and,
indeed, the whole story, is the concerted effort to, as the kids today
say, throw the student under the bus. Hers is the only voice not heard.
It may be true that she is often less than wholly rational, but even if
her version of events begins “Santorum jellybeans shlup the Princess Moon
horsey to Burning Man in Muskogee,” I, for one, would like to hear it and
render my own judgment.
|* Some accounts of my sudden toplessness with NU females are to be found in
my upcoming memoir, Other People’s Daughters—available at Amazon and other major outlets at any moment now!!!**
|** That is, whenever Gary finally finished the damned cover art!
Several years ago, I returned to the Muggins homestead in Mortonville, Illinois, Great Satan, whereupon my perpetually shrinking mother lurched at me for the traditional Hug of Greeting.
March 7, 2015
Hey, Americans: Don't You Guys Touch Anymore?
Cheer up. Could be worse. Could be the old heterosexual edition of Travolta.
My custom of many years was to make this trip every late summer, but for
some forgotten reason this trip was the first in two years, and I must
confess that I had lost the muscle memory for the Hug of Greeting — could
no longer segue smoothly into the customary series of motions.
I awkwardly encircled the crumbling matriarch in my arms as I felt her bony hands meet at the scruff of my neck. Smiling almost diabolically, she began pulling my head straight toward hers. All well and good, but just as I was expecting our faces to veer off of collision course so that our chins would come to rest on each other’s shoulders, that did not happen. Instead, the maternal tractor beam kept my head on a direct collision course with hers, and more to the point, my lips with hers.
My God, we are about to kiss! On the lips! was all I could think before suddenly we were, in fact, kissing on the
lips, at which point my panicked thoughts shifted to Do we do tongues, too? But by that time, the tractor beam had released me and I was being informed
that I was too thin.
After I’d broken free and observed a male sibling effortlessly perform the HoG up to and including the kiss, it all came back to me. Yes, we do kiss the matriarch on the lips upon setting foot in the ancestral home
following a long absence. We do that! We always have! We are, after all, Americans!
We siblings don’t lip-kiss each other, or each other’s spouses or children,
though there may be cheek-kissing in male-female combinations. We are not,
after all, barbarians or Frenchmen. And for the record, we never, ever
bring the tongue into play with the matriarch. Not even to help her dislodge
All of this seems a moot point now that the matriarch has been dead and
buried these fourteen months, her lips having long since passed their expiration
date — and the ancestral home, site of so much hugging and kissing, sold
off to boot. But that moment of my uncertainty has come back to me with
a number of recent “news” items regarding the way Americans touch each
other - or rather, don't.
Take this, for example.
And, all right, yes, pretty much everything Vice President Biden has ever done.
For the record, I’ve lived my life in Japan since I was twenty-three. Over here, we’re the anti-Europeans: we lip-kiss only at gunpoint. I don’t even lip-kiss Mrs. Muggins the Spouse, which is why I was taken aback, after a two-year hiatus, when the Mrs. Muggins who bore me sprang that forgotten mouth-mumba on me.
It was 1979 when I left you, Americans. Some of you may not remember, but in those days, you were one touchy-feely lot. One of your top five TV shows was Dallas, a show that specialized in intra-family kissing—then again, maybe not the best example to prove my point.
My point is, nonsexual parent-child kissing in America was not very long
ago a norm. True, cheek kissing has always been somewhat more common than
lip-kissing, as we can see from this Wikipedia page, and let me pause here to point out that Cheek Kissing has its own Wikipedia
page while I still do not. Anyway, kissing of one sort or another between
parents and children is as American as sinking into Middle Eastern quagmires.
Now, all of a sudden, a man is widely denounced as creepy for giving his
own daughter a quick peck just after winning a Super Bowl. Same deal for
an old-school politician who still goes in for old-school touchy-feeliness.
Now, it’s perfectly natural for us Japanese to cluck our tongues at all
this schmooziness. But you’re Americans, for God’s sake. What the hell happened to you?
Americans, hey, it’s your country. If you collectively wake up one morning and decide you want to go all Ayatollah on the rules for touching and kissing each other, that’s fine. But for older gentlemen like Biden, Belichick and me who grew up in a more tactile age, it would be nice if you posted some guidelines, like “Send us your huddled masses yearning to breathe free without lips all over their faces” or something. You do not get to just up and change the rules overnight without notification.
That is rude. Very, very rude.