At my school, the staff encourages the students to keep journals in English. Between classes, the English teachers are asked to check out and proofread said journals. This is a request that appeals strongly to me – not only do I get to brandish my editing skills from my former life but my love of Engrish will never be sated. The students are always earnest and the content of their journals varies greatly. When TG was in town and we were planning a day trip to Kyoto, Tomoko’s neatly written journal on that very city’s historical landmarks definitely came in handy. Some students write about their day; others write about things they study in school. My favorite journal by far, however, belongs to a young woman whose nickname is “Weird Al.” She was one of the first adults I taught back in my first week and her sly, cheeky humor and impressive yet still developing grasp of English made that lesson one of my favorites to date.
“Weird Al” doesn’t write about things she learned in school or her days working at a “Sweet shop.” She writes about her nightly dreams and draws cartoons along with her entries and especially seems to like drawing pictures of pastries that people keep giving her family.
Sometimes I reread her journal several times in a shift, particularly the first entry entitled “Five Toed Socks.” I have often wanted to transcribe it to my own notebook but simply cannot do so for decency’s sake but I have read it enough times by now to remember the gist. One day, Weird Al finished her class and wandered into the shopping mall because she wanted to buy five-toed socks. Five toed socks, she wrote, were her favorite because they were so comfortable. That particular day, she wanted to buy striped five-toed socks but the store was out so she bought black ones instead.
“I love five-toed socks!” she wrote. “What about you? Five-toed socks!”
What about me, indeed!! After my shift ended today, I wandered into a 100 yen store and after sifting through household items and lipgloss I didn’t need, my eyes lit upon a rather comfy-looking pair of beige and cocoa-colored striped five-toed socks. One just can’t go wrong for 100 yen! I snatched up the pair and will try them tonight as I freeze for the first part of the evening in a room I can’t bring myself to heat while the enormous bouquet of birthday flowers from my parents still sits on my desk.
I haven’t seen Weird Al since that first week I taught – we spent a mere 40 minutes together, discussing cough medicines and shampoo – but I somehow have a feeling I will soon be indebted to her advice of wearing five-toed socks.