I've always liked Mei-chan. She has all of the attributes that my favourite students have: friendly, smiley, cheerful and is willing to try a little as she likes me. We bonded when she was a first year as she was frustrated that I couldn't understand what she had had for breakfast - ohagi. She insisted to one of the Japanese English teachers that she explain to me exactly what ohagi was (much to both of our amusement). It sounded gross - sweet rice balls covered with sesame seeds or sweet bean paste.
Anyway, Friday I was in quite a bit of pain, the old back injury had been creaking ominously for a few weeks and Thursday night it gave out. I asked the girls to behave because my back was hurting. Mei said to her friend "Oba-han desu kara ne" "It's because she's a middle-aged woman." Using the Osaka form han rather than the usual chan made it all the crueller! I mock-shouted "MEI!" and she put her hand over her mouth and racked her brains for a bit before coming up with "Sorry!" much to her classmates amusement.
I got my revenge not long after. The third year junior highs have twenty easy questions to answer within two minutes for their mid-term test. The lower level classes seem to peak in the second year and then pretty much stay the same level for the remainder of the time at school, so her confidently suggested answer to "What did you have for lunch?" was "I had pan". I explained that pan, the Japanese for bread, is French and not English to which she replied "So, we can't use French?" I said "Am I a French or an English teacher? Is this a French or and English test?" "Oh, I see!" replied Mei. I related the story to her Japanese English teacher who said "Please don't think that all Japanese are that stupid!"
My bare legs and sandaled feet prompted much muttering amongst the second year high school. I wasn't really listening, but they must have been wondering why I had no socks on (something the Japanese staff would never do at work) I said to a pair of girls "What are you saying about my legs?" From the other side of the classroom Sayumi announced "mizumushi!" Athelete's foot! I probably dug my own grave by telling Sayumi she was really rude and yes, I did know the meaning of mizumushi so be careful what you say.
As I have been having some trouble with athlete's foot recently, Sayumi caused me to spend the rest of the lesson hiding behind my desk and paranoidly looking at my feet "They can't possibly see anything can they?" At the end of class she asked about the contents of the writing test. I explained, and then said "I'm deducting 5% for your mizumushi comment!"