Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Jumbo Braun: The Tall Man Looseth


Note: The following is a factual, compendious timeline of one totally average day in the life of a 6’4 foreign English teacher in Japan.

07:32 – You wake up. You’re feet overhang the bottom-end of your futon. Your heels have been resting on the tatami-mat all night. This happens every night. It’s been happening for almost two years, and so by now your heels have all these cross-hatched tatami-mat depressions carved into them. You’re pretty sure the cross-hatched tatami-mat heel-carvings are permanent.

07:37 – You stand up, barely awake, and slam your head into the ceiling light fixture. It hurts, but not that bad. The light fixture swings violently, emitting an ominous click-clack, click-clack.

07:41 – You take a shower. The wall-affixed shower faucet is located at about your neck-level. You have to hunch and contort your upper body just to get some water outflow on your face. You don’t wash your hair because your lower back is starting to cramp-up.

07:47 – You towel off and head back to your room to get dressed. You’re a little late for work, so you speed-walk. You’re thinking about what you’ll wear today. You’re formulating a lesson plan for your first period class and you’re trying to think of some way to get the one especially dumb kid on the basketball team to stop setting illegal screens. You’re contemplating all these things at once. You forget about that horizontal beam at the entry way to your bedroom. It obliterates you. The sound-effect is that of solid becoming liquid in an instant. Like bone going splat. You shriek and maybe pass out for a little bit, maybe not. You’re on your bedroom floor, naked, entangled in a bath towel, moaning. The tatami-mat is making cross-hatch carvings on your ass-cheeks. Your head throbs.


 07:52 – You’re looking at yourself in the mirror, but you can’t see your face. The mirror frames your upper legs and most of your abdomen, but your head is too high up. It’s cropped off. You crook yourself awkwardly forward so you can get your face down to the mirror’s level. You want to see if either the light-fixture or the horizontal-beam left a mark. They didn’t. You notice that your unwashed hair is greasy. You feel a twinge in your lower back.

08:01 – You squeeze into your car. It’s a small Japanese kei car, about the size of a roofed go-kart. The car sinks noticeably when you sit down. Both legs do not fit simultaneously in the driver’s side leg + foot area. You extend your left leg across the vehicle, into the front-passenger’s side leg + foot area. Your body is literally occupying the entire front half of your vehicle.

08:03 – You park your car and enter school through the teacher’s entrance. You remove your outdoor shoes and walk over to the hand-crafted shoe cubby that the school groundskeeper built just for you. He built this shoe cubby because your outdoor shoes don’t fit in a normal-sized teacher shoe cubby. And so for a long time you left your outdoor shoes either outside on the front-lawn or in an absent student’s shoe cubby. At least the students’ shoe cubbies don’t have individual cubby doors. But apparently the school groundskeeper got sick of seeing your big-ass outdoor shoes sitting on the front-lawn or protruding out from the student shoe-cubby rack. So he built a separate super-sized shoe cubby. Just for you. And that’s where you retrieve your indoor shoes from and that’s where you store your outdoor shoes. They just barely fit.

09:31 – A student asks you how tall you are in centimeters. When you tell him, he gasps and calls you a liar.

09:56 – One of the florescent ceiling lights in the teacher’s office is flickering. The school Vice-Principle rolls a chair across the floor and stops it right underneath the flickering light. You climb up on the chair and he hands you a new florescent cylinder. As you’re replacing the light, the chair swivels and rolls perilously. All the teachers in the office are observing you. Your whole body is tense and you are perspiring. The Vice-Principle laughs. All the other teachers laugh.

10:41 – A teacher requests you fetch a textbook from a high shelf. You notice it’s really dusty up there.

11:33 – A student asks you your shoe size. You tell him the length in centimeters. He repeats the number once to himself and then once to a friend. They shuffle off, giggling.

12:38 – The teachers apportion the daily teachers’ quota of school lunch. All the teachers get a carefully and equally rationed fistful of rice. You get quadruple that. The Vice-Principle, who’s serving the rice, pats your heaping portion proudly and mutters “yamamori, yamamori.” You’re pretty sure this translates to “mountain-forest, mountain-forest,” but you’re not positive.

12:44 – Once you’re in the classroom where you will eat lunch that day, you dole out most of your rice to unsuspecting students. They ask if you’re on a diet. You say no. They tell you that you should eat more, because you’re huge. You sit at an absent student’s desk. Even with both feet flat on the floor, your legs elevate the desk up off the ground. The bottom-side of the desk rests on your thighs and the legs of the desk don’t even contact the floor. You tell students that in America you’re not that huge. They laugh but also look very afraid. You eat lunch. Your lunch tray almost slides off the desk whenever you shift your weight.

13:12 – Your head still aches. You take four Extra Strength Tylenol.

13:23 – You go to the male teachers’ bathroom. You stand at the urinal and think about your next class or basketball practice or dinner or whatever. You start pissing and you’re pissing for a few seconds before you realize that your piss stream is going right over the top of the urinal. You double-check to make sure that you’re not inexplicably aroused. You’re not. The urinal itself comes up to about waist-level, but the actual concave piss receptacle segment of the urinal ends much lower. Somewhere just above your knees. So for a good ten seconds, while you were standing there meditating about whatever, you’ve also been pissing all over the wall. You realize that lots of that piss has splashed back on you. You bend your knees and lean forwards and redirect your aim downward. Your pants are very wet. Your back hurts.

13:29 – A teacher asks you to pin a poster in the hallway. As you press thumbtacks into the upper corners of the poster, you keep your body turned away from the teacher at all times. So she doesn’t see the spattered crotch-area of your pants.

15:12 – A student asks you how tall you are, in centimeters.

15:42 – During Cleaning Time you wipe down the tops of lockers and cabinets and shelves and window-frames and pretty much any other surface that no one else at school can touch, even when they jump. You remember that one shelf in the English office and decide to dust it tomorrow.

16:48 – At basketball practice you scrimmage with the team. You block the shit out any kid who dares drive into the paint. You stare at them and wag your finger and tell them that this is your house. They shouldn’t even think about coming into your house, you say. The kids whine that it isn’t fair. They’ve memorized your height in centimeters and they recite this number to you, repeatedly. They reiterate: it isn’t fair. You block another shot, send it out-of- bounds with authority, and do a not-so-small celebratory dance. Life isn’t fair, you say. Life isn’t fair.

18:48 – You swap your outdoor shoes and indoor shoes and notice that someone has stuck a nametag on the oversized shoe cubby. It was probably the school secretary. As if there was ever any doubt whose shoe cubby it was. You walk to your car and wriggle into the driver’s seat and stretch your left leg out into the passenger seat’s designated area.

19:12 – At the grocery store you encounter an elementary-school student and her mother. The little elementary girl scales you like a rock-climbing wall. Once she’s hanging around your neck, spraying your face with enthusiastic spittle, she asks how tall you are. The mother gasps when she hears the number. She, the mother, then asks how big your shoes are, in centimeters. She gasps again and exclaims “great!” in this weird way that makes you wonder if it's just you’re imagination or is the supermarket suddenly teeming with sexual tension.

19:48 – You arrive home and hurry towards the kitchen because the grocery bags are heavy. You forget about the kitchen crossbeam and slam your forehead into it, full speed. You’re on the floor again, groceries scattered around you. You lay there and can’t move. You detect a faint whiff of piss coming from somewhere.

22: 51 You take three Tylenol PM’s with your last glass of whiskey.

00:16 – You crawl into your futon and try to cover yourself but the blankets aren’t long enough. Your feet overhang the bottom-end of the futon. The tatami-mat locks into your cross-hatch corrugated heels. Your head aches. Your back aches. You wonder if you’ll see that mom from the grocery store again anytime soon.

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