Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Stop it!!! You're going to kill him!!!

Horie-sensei is 60 years old, and about to retire. He's been with Nyu High School for over twelve years, and he's one of the most popular and well-known teachers on the staff. He's famous for wearing a sports jackets instead of a suit, and his zero-tolerance policy towards umbrella thieves is respected and feared for miles around. His side-parting is legendary.
So what better way to celebrate his long years of service than by throwing him towards the ceiling. Twelve times in a row.
The scene was the annual Nyu High School Welcome/Farewell Party, held every April for the benefit of newly arriving teachers and those about to depart. The enkai (party) was a fairly usual affair as far as these things go - it began with formal speeches and polite applause, but as time wore on, and the participants became more and more inebriated, the formality slipped away to be replaced by a sort of semi-organised bedlam. I think the apex of this polite chaos may have been the point when the school music teacher was asked to lead the staff in reciting the school song: Unfortunately he was so pissed he'd forgotten all the words, which caused him to crawl around on the floor for five minutes in an hilarious semi-apologetic bowing fit, provoking gales of laughter. You had to be there I think.
After that came the alarming development of the "farewell bumps" - a Japanese retirement tradition which may or may not have developed from the more familiar "birthday bumps". It wouldn't surprise me if it did originate from Western birthday parties - I mean, this is the country where they celebrate Christmas by blowing out candles on a cake and making a wish, so it's not too great a leap of the imagination.
Anyway, the "farewell bumps" began with the young teachers who were leaving to go to other schools. They took turns to stand in front of everyone and listen to a farewell speech which praised their service at the school, then, after a cue, all the male teachers rushed in and threw them in the air. All good fun.
Then it was the turn of the retirees. Horie-sensei stepped up. Surely they weren't going to chuck him in the air too? I mean, he's 60 years old for God's sake! Suddenly images of broken hips and pensions depleted by endless hospital visits filled my brain...
I held my breath....
...9...10...11...12...and he's down, with no visible wounds!
Yet another scrap of evidence to support my theory that elderly Japanese people are indestructible - which is why they can afford to be such terrible drivers.


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