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Part IX Not to sound sexist, but . . .

October 1, 1998

I can think of very few events in my life as humbling as yesterday afternoon.  Not one, not two, but five consecutive thirteen and fourteen year old girls kicked my ass in ping-pong  (no games, just practice, but it was clear who was better).  I held my own with the sixth.  She was twelve.  Actually, the worst part about it was that they all have crushes on me (I'm the new celebrity at the junior high school), so they all bowed and said "I'm sorry" after each volley.   Talk about rubbing salt in the wound -- they said it in English.  I think my ego just hit rock bottom.  Tomorrow I'm gonna play basketball and kick all their punk asses.  Especially the girls.  I do, after all, have what's left of my pride to salvage.  And if nothing else, I can play dirty in basketball.

Today was Yom Kippur.  Happy holidays.  Please forgive me for any transgressions I might have made against you, conscious or otherwise.  That goes especially for those of you who have had to bear the brunt of my copious ping pong related trash talking.

According to Orthodox Jewish tradition, you are supposed to swing a chicken around your head, say a whole bunch of prayers, and then slaughter and eat the chicken before beginning the day of fasting (it should be noted, however, that this tradition fell out of use quite some time ago).  However, not having a) a live chicken, b) the urge to swing a live chicken around my head, c) a knowledge of local animal rights laws, d) a knowledge of kosher slaughtering techniques, and e) the time to pluck the damn bloody chicken, I had to do something to fulfill at least part of the tradition.  In that spirit, I went to KFC.  I think God appreciated the effort -- I had to order in Japanese, after all.  I did fast, though, although since they had natto for lunch again it wasn't too difficult.  I lasted all day, and I finally broke the fast with, you guessed it, katsudon.  In case you are unfamiliar with Japanese cuisine, katsudon is fried fillets of pork.  Good Jew, Rafi.  Maybe next year I'll go all the way and do the chicken thing, except wouldn't that be considered 'going whole hog?'

(It should be noted, since I have been asked many times, that nowadays NOBODY does the live chicken swinging thing.  It was a tradition centuries ago that died out well before I was born.  This probably happened around the time when it became difficult for the average person to procure a live chicken, but that's just a guess.)

True story:  today during a class in which the students introduced themselves to me (an interesting twist), one girl shouted "I love you, I want you, I need you!"  I couldn't possibly make this stuff up.  As problematic as that was, I liked it better than the boy whose English proficiency was limited to the phrase "kiss my ass."

I just got a cell phone.  Does that make me a Guppy?  (Gaijin Urban Professional)

I'd better stop now.