Unicycles and Lucifer

It’s time to share some tales from the classroom with you.  The most innocent, basic English can send a tired native English speaker into fits of laughter.  See below:

Do you have any balls? I sure don't have any...

Do you have any balls? I sure don’t have any…

1 – Let’s start with a seemingly innocuous question I ask in a class of junior high school girls, aiming to make them practice saying the full negative reply “No, I don’t” instead of the usual “No.” I confidently ask the first girl “Do you have a unicycle?”

“Yes,” she says.  My jaw drops but I’m not about to give up.

“Can you ride a unicycle?” I counter.  Gotcha, girl.  Finally, I’ll make her say it.

“Yes,” she says.

“WHAAAAT!?!”  The other two girls are looking at me like I’m a bit crazy.  I shift my attention over to them.  I’m gonna get that negative response practice out of somebody in this room if it kills me.  “Do you have a unicycle?” I ask one of the other girls.

“Yes,” she says.  This is getting nuts.  I’m teaching a couple of acrobats here!  I may as well ask the next one.  Lo and behold, she has one too.

“Can you both ride unicycles too?”

They both nod shyly and my mind is blown.  It was pretty hard to explain my shock to them.  Unicycles are only a circus act where I’m from.  When I was growing up, I thought it was pretty cool I knew a guy who owned a unicycle.  But here, I guess unicycles are commonplace.  Japan must be brimming with would-be circus performers and here I am, unable to ride a tricycle without hands, let alone a bicycle.  So there you go:  I taught three unicyclists once.

2 – Then there was the day I skimmed the Teacher’s Guide for my class with 3 year olds and saw a recommendation to sing “The FML Song.”  The WHAT??  And then I realized I’d only mis-read it.  It’s actually called “The FLM Song.”  It’s a risky title when acronyms have become ingrained in our consciousness.

3 – One day I was playing “First to Say” with a class.  The goal of the “game” is to be the first to spew out the target structure correctly.

Me:  “What do you want to be?”

Student:  “I want to be a newspaper!”  I don’t know who laughed harder, him or the other students…

In his defence, the word “newspaper” does roll off the tongue a lot easier than “news reporter.”

4 – There is another class of girls who, although they at first apparently had little grasp of any English grammar, would occasionally whip out some very random and thought-provoking sentences for my consideration…such as the following:

Me:  “*InsertName*, how are you today?”

Student:  “I’m…morbid.”

Me:  “Did you say morbid?  Why are you feeling morbid?”

Student:  “I saw my dead grandmother last night.”

Me:  “I’m sorry to hear that.”

After an extended conversation she and her classmates managed to explain to me that her grandmother did not die recently.  She did not see her grandmother’s body at a funeral or any such thing.  She saw her dead grandmother’s ghost the night before.  OMG.  I’d be in a morbid mood too.  Nice word choice.

I can’t lie, MorbidGirl’s class is a favourite of mine.  I never know what’s going to pop up in this class.  Usually nothing exciting happens.  One time, MorbidGirl walked into the classroom with this on her head like a mask.  I asked “Is that you, MorbidGirl?”  To which she responded, “I am Lucifer.”

I am Lucifer.

“I am Lucifer.”

There’s been more funny moments, but after a while, they all seem to fade into regularity…so this might be all you get.