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Babel On Revisited             

Happy American English Camp, Kyoto.

 Gave my first English Conversation lesson two days ago to a woman who, while not mute, would not speak.  46 minutes into the 50 minute lesson, hoarse and sweaty, I have extracted her name and a description of her lunch that day:  a potato, boiled and with salt; rice; a piece of whitefish that she believes had been steamed.  We spend the last 4 minutes silent, smiling across the table at each other in the tiny room with its speed-chess clock and poster of Las Vegas, contemplating just what it is that we are doing with our lives

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Happy American Campfs owner, Sumiko, is a svelte and stylish Japanese woman, polished, 50, jaded and no doubt a beauty when younger, whose primary occupation is outfoxing the aging process.  For the first 10 minutes of the interview we both wear sunglasses; mine are prescription and replacing my regular glasses, which I have temporarily lost.  Not clear on her excuse until she tells me that she herself had lived in Los Angeles for 15 years.  It was there that her marriage unraveled and she tells me that what she misses most about LA is gall the shrinks and that here in Japan it is hard to find a shrinkh and what she really needs is a shrink.  What she doesnft need is her skirt being any shorter; what with all the broken English chatter and posters for 8-year-old American movies plastering the walls I can barely concentrate as it is.  I manage to work into this (and every) interview that I had known Sharon Stone and she gets excited about that then tells me how she used to wait tables in Woodland Hills and was in acting class with a guy who is now on gMelrose Placeh and that hefs a nice guy and they have even talked since he has become famous.  I tell her about my acting class and some ideas I have on how acting techniques can be applied to teaching English, which gives her time to inhale, nod, and continue on that she used to be a model and might have some catalog work in Kyoto and that she heard about a film coming to town and means to call someone she knows who knows someone involved because there might be something in it for her.  Except for the broken bits of language going on in the BG being Japanese not Spanish, I could have just crawled in from any freeway off-ramp in Los Angeles.

Like two people on a first date they both know will end awkward and sexless, the job is not meant to be, but I have since been accepted by Berlitz Japan to undergo one week of full-time training in order to join their Kyoto branch as an English Instructor.  Training begins Monday morning at 8:30 in Osaka, which means I have to get up at about Friday to start catching all my trains.  But wherever there are people hungry for the Gospel according to English, I shall do my part to spread the word, whatever my sacrifice.

Winter is here and double-paned windows are not, so it is cold inside and out.  I look across the room and see that the steam from the rice cooker has thawed out a huge wasp who knows its days are few and is looking to take someone out with him when he goes.  I open the window, head out to the rice fields and wait for it to die.

  Bye-onara.