“I signed up because I wanted these children to grow into happy global-minded citizens,” says Jeff Jameson as he lightly taps his fingers on the table between us. “So I pride myself on promoting a robust mutual understanding with the children. I’ve created so many activities that appeal to students, and I’ve fostered a one-team mentality.”
Jameson represents the veteran contingent of language teachers in Japan, those who have stayed beyond the point at which they realised that the only sex they were getting was with a ever-decreasing circle of bunny-boilers, emotionally-underdeveloped drinkers, and passport hunters. Ever the professional, the 49-year-old Vancouver-born Jameson still manages to vary his selection of songs and games to keep the little ones focused as he leads them into the world of English.
“Purists will say that The Beatles don’t belong in the classroom. They say that songs like “Hello Goodbye”, “All Together Now”, and “Yellow Submarine” should stay in the karaoke room. I like to shake things up though. I guess I’m similar to Sidney Poitier in To Sir With Love or Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society in that regard. I’m on the record saying that teaching isn’t about professors, psychologists, or large companies with their hands in various markets. No, I tell you right now that teaching is all about the kids,” he says beaming. “There. I’ve said it.”
Jameson’s dreams occasionally hit obstacles. One such occasion was last week when he was teaching little kids in a window-view room at a shopping centre in suburban Kanagawa. After singing “Heads, Shoulders, Knees & Toes”, Jameson got down on all fours to introduce the next activity. It was then that one of the little boys began to climb on his back and stuck some chewing gum in his hair. From there an awkward situation developed with Jameson unsuccessfully trying to gently free himself of the scrum that threatened to overwhelm him. “It became one big tangle with me and three kids,” recalls Jameson. “I eventually got out of it and managed to get on my knees so that I was now able to control the situation.”
It was only then that Jameson noticed that he had an audience, two marines and their two attractive local girlfriends were observing his lesson whilst pointing at him and trading giggles. “I’m a humble man, and I used to be in the military, so I gave them a self-conscious look and saluted.” With his attention diverted for just a moment, Jameson was now defenceless, and the smallest and cheekiest of the students saw it as an opportunity to whack Jameson in the penis and testicles with astonishing force. Jameson, now lying in the ground in the foetal position, gasped as the four cool twenty somethings howled with laughter from the other side of the glass.
“When I was 15 I was fooled into asking a hot girl at school if I could see her bearded clam, and then when I was 18 years old I came home to find my girlfriend making out with my father in the living room. So, I’m no stranger to humiliation,” Jameson says wistfully. “But that day being laughed at by the marines was the worst I’ve ever felt. Those marines were dark-skinned, so I imagine they took the girls to a love hotel where they then indulged in Hennessy-fueled sex sessions while whispering cool street slang into the girls’ ears.
“In those moments I remind myself of my sworn commitment to know, value and care for each and every student. That’s what drives me. I believe teachers need to see every child’s glass as half full and that requires knowing each student as an individual and being tenacious in trying to discover and understand their unique potential.
“Some teachers just come here for a year, bang some of the hot moms, and then go back home. They don’t even go to see a temple or wear out their welcome with the locals in a stand-up bar,” sighs the ageing veteran sadly. “Not me though. It’s all a completely spiritual journey for a long-termer like me. To be absolutely honest though, it would be nice to have an afternoon delight with a milf at a love hotel. I have to hope that, even at my age, my turn is just around the corner.”
Professional to the last gasp.