This song was a very huge hit for the band Bon Jovi and one night in Mito changed the song for me forever. Here’s the story, as you know the school year in Japan starts at the beginning of April. So during the first week of school, the staff always has a welcome party, an Enkai roughly translated drinking party. So of course me being one of the new staff members, I was in attendance. So we walked into the hotel where the party was to be held, Enkai’s are usually very fancy and they told me to wait downstairs with the other new teachers of which none of them spoke English, of course. I did not know what was going on; I felt like I was awaiting my initiation into a fraternity. Finally they came down and asked us to follow them and when we got to the room, they opened the doors and everyone started screaming and yelling and waving their arms and we sort of ran in, it felt like a football game when the team was running on the field. We all had assigned seats and everyone, EVERYONE who was on staff at the school was there. I saw with the 1st grade teachers because that is where my desk is, which is a good thing because it also was the table with the highest number of English speakers. It was at this time that I was informed that I would have to give a short speech to all of the teachers, which made me a bit nervous at first and even more nervous when the teachers before me were giving like 5-10 minute speeches. I thought to myself, “they couldn’t, wouldn’t expect me to give a 5-10 minute speech to a bunch of people who wouldn’t understand me”, and then as I was having this thought I noticed that when the teacher speaking was finished, they started asking them questions. Now I had no idea of course what was being said but again I passed it off as something they wouldn’t do for me because they couldn’t ask me questions in English and I couldn’t answer questions in Japanese, so I continued thinking about what I was going to say until it was my turn, now I was the last of 7 teachers, at 5 minutes a piece, that was about 35 minutes later, now what I haven’t told you yet was this was indeed a drinking party, and when I say drinking party, I mean they drink beer after beer after beer. It is a custom to go around the room and fill your fellow workers cups up and if it doesn’t need filling up, then you get them another cup and fill it up, so after 35 minutes of drinking, a lot of the teachers were getting….lets use the word sloshed. So it was my turn and I got up and one of the English teachers got up with me and translated for me, I didn’t say much because I didn’t have a lot to say and everyone laughed and clapped, which was interesting because nothing I said was funny, so I assumed that the drunk English teacher was making up what I was saying and translating it however he saw fit. And then it happened, question time, they were actually going to ask me questions, a man stood up, he didn’t speak much English at all and he asked and I quote, “what kind of boobs do you like?” I was of course speechless and I stood there, I had nothing clever to say, in fact, I had nothing to say at all. I simply smiled while everyone else was of course rolling on the ground, mainly because they were drunk and lost their balance. This was my cue to find my seat and get out of the way as quick as possible. I had decided that I was not going to drink at this party, which disappointed many of my fellow workers, so they decided to bring me other drinks instead and so I got cups and cups of tea, water and coke, like maybe 15 cups sitting in front of me, now imagine if that was indeed alcohol, I cant imagine how think my blood would have been then. Dinner came and it was all raw and not good, so I gave it to the drunk guy next to me and everyone was having a great time, stumbling around and cheering. The three mot drunk guys at the party were the principal, the VP and the head administration guy……I have personally never seen people so drunk in my life, they tied their coats around their heads and were yelling and screaming and just falling everywhere. Apparently alcohol makes you speak English better, because I have never been able to understand them more than that night when they were plastered. Then they cheered each of us (which is another story in of itself, and one better shown then read) and it was over. I looked around the room and I was one of 4 people not noticeably drunk. So we had been warned that after the first Enkai, there is usually a second Enkai. So when the second Enkai was mentioned, I of course asked, “What are we doing?” To which they replied we are going to a karaoke place. I quickly agreed to go, what could be better than a second Enkai at a karaoke place with my drunken co-workers. So one of the 3rd grade teachers grabbed my hand and walked me over to the bus that was headed for karaoke. On the bus ride I was informed that I would be the first to sing, to which I told them that I couldn’t go until like the 4th person and after much persuading, they agreed. We get to the place and get assigned to our room and it usually fits about 4 people in the room, well there was 13 in our room and then 13 next door. So what they did next was of course call in the waitress and start ordering more alcohol, why wouldn’t they? So they start singing their Japanese songs and I notice that they all have incredible voices and that every single one of them can sing, so it came to my turn and the guy next to me asked if I knew Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” and I said of course and he asked me to sing it and I said only if you sing it with me, and so we did a duet of “It’s My Life” and I think we would have made Jon Bon Jovi proud. The night went on and I sang a few more times, a little Kelly and a little Beach Boys and finally my ride asked if I was ready and I said that I was ready and I told all of my new Japanese friends good-bye and I left. I thought that things would be totally different on Monday when we went back to school because we all had this experience together, but it turns out that most of them were to drunk that night to remember anything and they all suffered major hangovers at school that day. All in all, I would say that it was definitely my best night in Japan and in the top 5 best nights of my entire life. I was very excited to hear that there are many Enkais through out the year and I am awaiting the next one! So there you have it, in all of its shame, or glory and length!
PORT (the sober one)