Friday, July 1, 2011

Bucket Potato!!

So, today I was teaching some kids how to order foods like barbecue ribs, pork chops, grilled chicken, all those things that they don't eat here in Japan and that these kids probably won't ever eat unless they go abroad, and by the time they actually go abroad, they won't remember this lesson know, stuff like that.

So, I'm flashing them the cards one by one. The kids are sounding out the words, trying to read them out loud together. I am painfully doing my best to correct their pronunciation.

I show them a card. "Ok, what's this?"


"Uhh, nope. French fries!"

"French po-TAY-to!" they cry in the heat of battle.

"French FRIES!" I repeat.

"French FRY-do!" they call back in a triumphant chorus.

"Um.........ok, close enough."

(I flash a new card)

"Roasto beefu!"

I correct them. "Roast beef."

"Roast beef!" they parrot back.

"Wow, nice one!"

I flash a new card.

"What's this?"

They tell me knowingly, with little smirks on their faces, "Sarada."

"Nooo, that's Japanese. In English, it's SALAD!" (Seriously, in Japanese, salad is called "sarada.")

They muster up some more strength, and then try again. "Salada!"

"SAAA-LID." I draw the word out, slowly.

"SaaalEEEEda." Oh dear god, they sound Spanish now.

"SAAA-lid." I make my body droop as I say the "-lid," emphasizing the intonation in a softer tone at the end.

"Saaaally," they say softly, their bodies drooping to the floor.

"Heh. Um, ok."

(new card)

"What's this?"


"Let's read it...what's this?"


"bbbb-....." I prompt them.

"buhhhhh...." they moan.

I give them a little more. "Bayy-..."

They give it back. "Bayyyy....."


All movement stops. The room is quiet. Everyone is looking at me, but I'm looking at 9-year-old Ayaka, my mouth frozen in a perfect "o" of surprise.

They watch me. They wonder.

I'm thinking in my head.... "bah-ked potato? neh-ked potato? naked potato?"

They look at Ayaka, the source of that.... whatever you'd call it, for some answers.

Finally, I burst. "Bwahhahahahhahahah!"

The kids take their cue, "bwahahahahahahha!"

Ayaka's relieved. She laughs and smiles. We're all crying with laughter, but it's time to turn off the waterworks.

"Haha, ok, that's funny. Anyway, listen. BAY-KT potato!"

"BUCKET POTATO!" they cry in unison.

"Hahahha. Um, no. Listen again. BAYYYKT potato!"

"Baaaaaaayyyykt potato."


The small kid in the back jumps up in delight, "BAH-KEH-TO PO-TAY-TOOO!!!" He raises his fist and does a little dance.


"Bwahahahhaha," the room explodes in a sing-song chatter. "Bucket potato, bucket potato, bucket potatoooooo!!!"

Alright, that's it. I stand up. I approach the whiteboard and pick up a marker. I draw. A little here, a little there.

Ahh... a bucket potato.

They roar in what I accept as approval. "Bwahahahhahh!"

I chuckle and mentally pat myself on the back. Oh you're a clever one, you are...

"Ok, next card! What's this?"

"BUCKET beanzu!" they answer decidedly.

Oh crap... no.

"Baked beans!" I cry out to the masses."It's Baked beans!" But they only continue to torment me.


Oh dear, oh dear. What have I done...?


30 minutes and a few hair-graying games later...

"Ok," I tell them. "Time to go! Cushions over there, line up at the door!"

"Wazzzzzzaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!" Cushions, children and stuffed elephants are flying everywhere.

"Ok, Nami, are you ready to order?"

"I'd like the roasto beefu ando za bucket beanzu."

"Ok, Nami... seriously."

"I'd like the roast beef and the the bucket beans."

I point to the picture of beans.

"Very close. But, what is this in English, Nami?"

"Ehhh to, bah---k---?


"Aahhh! Ahhh! Baked beanzu!"

"Oy, ok, good job. See y-"

"SEEE YOUUUUUUUU!" A stampede of children tramples me in the doorway.

" week."