## Monday, April 04, 2005

### Drinking Parties are Mandatory

So, last week we had two Enkai, one farewell party for the teachers that were leaving, and one welcome party for the new teachers arriving. Actually, since I work at two schools, I imagine that there were four parties, but I was only invited to two of them, for which my liver is eternally grateful.

The first one was on Wednesday. I was given directions, and told to come at around 5:30. I worked at Itou that day, because I was trying to get my driving license, so I couldn't get a ride with anyone (different school).

So, I get home, and I get ready, and I dig out my notes on where the place is, and as I'm heading out the door at 5:30, the phone rings upstairs. I kick my shoes off, and run upstairs, but I miss the call. Then I wait by the phone for a second to catch my breath and see if they will call back.

I really need an answering machine.

Anyway, the phone rings again, and it's a JTE from Asahi asking me where I am.

Well....you called my home phone....and I answered........hmm...where could I be? It's a mystery.

Anyway, it turns out, THEY WERE WAITING FOR ME. Apparently, everyone had to be there BEFORE 5:30, so they could start at EXACTLY 5:30 on the dot. I was told that I should have been there at aroudn 5:20 or so.

OK, people, I've been here for NINE MONTHS. Surely you have noticed that I'm not often on time to ANYTHING, right? I heard that the boss kouchou was really mad. This highlights an important distinction between my Asahi kouchou, and my former Itou kouchou. My Asahi kouchou will get mad at me for being late (even though I was never told to be there BEFORE 5:30, nor was I told that they would be waiting for me before they could start). My Itou kouchou would have told me to come at 5:15, and not to be late. That's the difference. Asahi = Get mad, that will solve past problems. Itou = a little more forethought, and we won't HAVE problems to get past. Sigh.

Anyway, I rush over there, (instead of riding my bike, since it was only a few blocks away), but there's NO PARKING (doh! I'm in Japan!), so there's another few minutes gone. Eventually, when I got in there, they HAD started without me (aha!). And everyone was wearing a suit.

WAH?!

No one said ANYTHING about wearing a suit. I happened to be dressed especially nice that day, because I had gotten my picture taken for the driving test, so while I wasn't in a suit, I did have a dress-shirt and tie on. So, it could have been much worse.

Dinner was 90% seafood (which I am becoming less and less able to eat), and 10% vegetables and THE BEST BEEF I'VE EVER HAD. Seriousy. It wasn't even prepared the way I like it, and it was still the most amazing beef. I will really REALLY have a problem with food when I return to America. Sigh.

And there was drinking. We started with a sake toast (kompai!), which was the best sake I ever had (of the three times I've had it), and after that it was tea or beer. Since I'm male, I had to drink beer. I don't know why females get to drink tea, but it wasn't an option for me (I found that out the hard way at a previous drinking party).

Now, I'm not much of a drinker. I can drink, but I generally won't spend my own money on it. So, I wasn't accustomed to the constant beer consumption. It's tradition to pour drinks for other people, and there was a steady stream of people coming by to refill my beer glass. And if I hadn't had any, and the glass was full, I HAD TO DRINK SOME so they could refill it. I'm sure fraternity hazing is worse, but this was still much more alcohol than I normally consume (which is to say, more than nothing). And it went on for hours.

Then there was the smoking. I guess I was living in a fantasy world at school, where smoking is forbiden (like dancing, and Go). At the enkai, they let loose. So many people were smoking (especially at the second enkai, where I sat directly next to the smokers), I could hardly see the other side of the room, and I really really wish that were an exhageration. Cough.

Then, after the enkai, was the 2nd party. Again, attendance = mandatory. It's an odd social world here. We went to a karaoke bar. Sigh.

1. They're not mandatory. It wouldn't be very kosher not to attend, but you really don't have to if you don't want to.

2. Yeah, I sure know about you being late to things...

"The sky is blue, water is wet, Phoenix is late." -Phoenix

3. Haha! Yeah, I forgot about that. I wish I could show that DVD at my school, but parts of it aren't work-safe. Or animal-safe. :-/

4. Your Kocho sensei sounds like a real winner. I'm surprised he let you recontract.

5. Not so surprising.

I don't work for the kouchou, I work for the Board of Education, and he is only one of the kouchou I work with. The BoE wanted me to stay.

Besides, it's in their best interests to keep me as long as possible. Every new ALT forces a LOT of paperwork and setup. It's easier to keep the same ALT, if possible.

Of course, I also do an excellent job. :-D So there's that.

Although, if I had known then what I know now, I would have applied for a transfer last year (when I still could). Now, even if I apply this year, it's still more than a year away that I would transfer. Sigh.

6. Out of curiosity, does your kouchou only give you a hard time, or did he do that to your predecessor, too?

7. Wait, you have a Penthouse Live DVD? I don't even have one! Dammit, Kris! I finally got my award for it a few weeks ago. This is problem with My friends all living far away.

8. Glen, I think he gave my predecessor a hard time too. Apparently her predecessor (or his predecessor before him) dropped the ball somewhere, and we've been paying for it ever since. Or maybe the kouchou is just a hard-ass. I don't know the whole story, and my predecessor and I didn't talk very much, but going over what she did tell me, it does seem as if she were alluding to the problems with the kouchou. I'm certainly telling my successor everything I can (ie, "Apply for a transfer the first year").

Thomas, yes, I have a Penthouse Live DVD. Mwahahaha! I'm sad though. No special features, no easter eggs, and Episode 0 is missing. :-( Sigh. Nevertheless, I still feel I got my money's worth. :-D

9. Kris said he'd send me a Penthouse Live DVD, so all is well. -)

Did you really want Episode 0 on there? The only good thing about it was the beginning where we made fun of that chubby kid (who now works at my local Starbucks. I don't think he knows who I am). I suppose there could have been some special features, but I can't think of anything really worth putting on there off the top of my head.

Moreover, we just wanted to be done with it. How long did we wait to finish editing? Two years? Yeah...

We should do a ten year reunion episode. I wonder if Chad will still be as... Republican.