Any Excuse for an Enkai

In past years, if a piece of paper in my mailbox didn’t have my name explicitly on it, it went straight into the shredder.  Recently, though, I have been working on paying more attention to what I am shredding and I am discovering that my school has many more enkais (drinking parties) than I previously thought they had.  And this is saying something because I already thought they had a:

  • Welcome Party for new teachers
  • Sports Festival Party
  • Culture Festival Party
  • End of the Year Party
  • Farewell Party

However, the more I pay attention to the papers in my mailbox, the more I realize that most big events have some sort of a party, though a lot of them are restricted to only certain teachers.  The teachers in charge of publishing the recruitment book for junior high schools have a party when the book is successfully published.  All the different year teachers have parties for surviving various events.

So I really shouldn’t have been surprised to learn that there is a post-all-high-school-sport-festival party.  There is about a week or so when most high school sports have tournaments.  This is convenient because schools can adjust their schedules accordingly.  As I am not part of any club/sport, I didn’t think it would be appropriate for me to join in the party.  I even asked my desk-cluster-mate if she was going. She told me no.

Then several days later she asked if I was going to go because she was going.  When I pointed out that she had said no earlier, she tried to make it my fault for misunderstanding because in Japanese you phrase it as a negative and clearly I just misunderstood what she said.  If that sentence was confusing for you, just imagine how the conversation was for me.  Once I got over my momentary frustration, I said I would go.  I have a cold and have had it for about a week and a half now, but I rarely pass up the chance to hang out with my coworkers outside of school.

And I’m really glad I went.

That same desk-cluster-mate insisted that she could pick me up (we normally walk together to the parties from school but her husband was driving her) even after I assured her I knew exactly where we were going and would be happy to meet her there.  About a minute before she was supposed to pick me up, she sent me a text that said she hadn’t even left her apartment yet, about 15 minutes away.

Thankfully, the teacher who lives across the street from me saw me waiting for her and decided to wait to see what would happen before he got himself a taxi.  In the end we walked to the taxi stand together and got a taxi.  On the way, we chatted a bit. I always get nervous with him because he is a very intimidating guy, even though he is super nice and completely laid back with me and the other teachers.  He is tall, the karate coach, highly ranked in the office hierarchy (even though I’m not sure what is official title is in addition to being a commercial teacher), and has resting “serious face”.

This is the same man who, if you recall, just stared at me (I don’t think he even blinked) at the end of the year party until I agreed to stay a fourth year.

Because of all of this, it always takes me a few minutes to get comfortable with him again and remember that he is a really nice guy.  On the way to the party we had a nice conversation.  He asked me about what I originally studied in school.  He thought I must have been a computer science major or some kind of graphic design major, which was a nice little ego boost.  When we arrived at the hotel, he paid for the taxi, which was very kind of him even though it was only about 680 yen.

My old supervisor (who was transferred to a mountain school that she dislikes not because of the school itself, but because of the rural placement of the school) surprised most of us by showing up to the party as well.  It was really nice to see her again and hangout with her.

IMG_0662

It was one of the smaller work parties that I have been to, but a lot of my favorite teachers were there, so it was a lot of fun.

After the main party, we all headed to the afterparty at a nearby bar.  At the bar my old supervisor, Mr. Karate Coach, and I ended up sitting at a table with a few others.  We started to chat (in Japanese):

KC: Jodi, you go to bed quite early, don't you?
S: Eh? Why do you know that?
KC: Because I'm a smoker, so I am often outside smoking and I see her light turn off. 
J: (Somehow forgetting to mention that my bedroom is actually in the back of the apartment so I'm not going to sleep quite as early as he thinks, just going into my bedroom.) -totally not as weirded out by this as my supervisor is- Yeah, I go to bed between 8pm-9pm most nights.
S: What?!  Why do you do that?
KC: You wake up quite early too, right?
S: Why do you know that too?  It's kind of weird.
KC: Because I am often up early working and, because I am a smoker, I go outside to smoke early in the morning.  I often see that her light is already on.
J: Oh, yeah, I wake up at 5 everyday.  Most days I go running in the morning.

My old-supervisor was completely flabbergasted at this conversation.  After that, the conversation turned to how cute karate coach’s kids are and how much they like English.  Not much longer after that, as the clock struck midnight, I decided to call it a night and said goodbye to everyone.  I walked myself to the station and caught a taxi home.  All in all, a good night.

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