Josh Muggins's Blah Blah Blah


March 26, 2015

Naked on Campus in January: I Hate it When That Happens

An unexpected sight on a walkway between classroom buildings

The year in web-surfing got off to a rollicking start with a gem of an item titled “University lecturer found naked on campus in Tokyo.” Rather like the sometimes corroborating and sometimes contradicting Gospels, the reports found on Japan Today, Kicker Daily News, and The Express Tribune (the International New York Times) all make unique contributions to a story that will, if I have anything to say about it, be passed down through the ages.

I fear that, among my readers, there may actually lurk a few unhappy souls who have never in their lives experienced an illicit affair with a female Japanese university student whilst being a male faculty member of that same university. Therefore, I provide the service of decoding this story for you by synthesizing all accounts.

TOKYO: A 55-year-old Japanese university teacher stripped naked on campus in a bid to prove his love for a 21-year-old student, the school said Tuesday, only for his young amour to make off with his clothes. (The Express Tribune)

I don’t think amour means what the Tribune thinks it means, which is pretty shocking for a website that purports to be associated with The New York Times. Amour refers to the love affair itself, not to a person; moreover, amour implies a veil of secrecy over the affair, and as we shall see, this particular couple sucks pretty badly at discretion. Perhaps the writer was aiming for paramour, but dammit Jim, I’m a doctor, not a mind-reader.

According to the letter posted on Taisho University’s website, the part-time lecturer (whose name has not been given) was spotted by a student at around 3 p.m. on January 8 on a walkway between buildings on campus, wearing nothing but the skin he was born in. (Japan Today)

Good, solid reporting there. I don’t know about you, but I’m eager to learn more. As a 59-year-old lecturer at a Tokyo-area university who has spent half his career in part-time status, and one who has often been spotted on walkways between campus buildings, and one who has often been naked, though thus far never all of those things at the same time, I’m already developing a solid sense of investment in one of the central characters.

The older man, who taught computer sciences at Tokyo’s Taisho University, was left in the buff after de-robing in public at his live-in lover’s request.

The teacher, who was not named, told officials his girlfriend had ordered him to “take off your clothes right there if you want me to trust you”. (The Express Tribune)

Hold on, Express Tribune: why “older man”? There’s only one male character in this saga so far. Older just seems gratuitous, given this gentleman’s spring-chicken status vis-à-vis my own age. Okay, I have inadvertently left our hero naked, so back to the story. Before we all start licking our lips a bit too ostentatiously, here is another, slightly different account:

The lecturer had apparently been living together with a 21-year-old student for about six months. (While there is some speculation about their relationship, the official letter only mentions the fact that they were living together, with her parents’ permission.) When they ran into each other on campus on the day of the awkward event, however, their conversation somehow escalated into an argument. Finally, the female student reportedly demanded: “If you want me to believe you, then take off all your clothes right here.” (Japan Today)

Somehow the “with parents’ permission” angle drains a fair portion of the joy out of the story, does it not? Or is it just me? Anyway, let me segue into professor mode here to point out that the Japanese verb shinzuru includes the divergent meanings trust and believe, so both translations are possible.

Another translation issue seems to be whether the student requested removal of “all” clothes or just unspecified “clothes.” Maybe he was wearing one of those Cosby sweaters, which offended her, and the rest was just a zany mix-up?

But after stripping to demonstrate his dependability, his beau — who was said to be “emotionally unstable” at times — picked up his clothes and ran off. (The Express Tribune)

I think we need to take up a collection and get a new thesaurus for the beleaguered staff of The Express Tribune. Beau does indeed mean lover, but only the penis-having kind. There’s also an egregious dangling participle there, but don’t get me started on that. As a former copy editor, it makes me sick to my stomach. I’m going to go crap long greasy ones in the o-furo if this keeps up. Let’s move on.

Let it be noted that the more cautious Japan Today is hedging its bet on the nature of the relationship, but I think The Express Tribune is justified in playing the lover card here. Anyway, it’s a funner story that way, and it’s a journalist’s duty to fun things up for us.

According to the teacher, the student was emotionally unstable at the best of times. She would get worked up so suddenly and to such an extent that he was never sure of how to react, so he figured it would be best to do as she said, thinking that if he didn’t, then things would never be resolved. (Japan Today)

So it seems the teacher is the source of the “emotionally unstable” meme—or don’t you call that a meme? After all, it’s appeared twice now. How many iterations are needed to attain meme status?

Anyway, I think my role here is to provide some perspective to those of you who, as of the beginning of this post, were bereft of sex-having-with-female-university-students-whilst-teaching-at-that-university experience, and perhaps still are.

In retrospect, I guess I lucked out with my lone student paramour. Though she was apt to get jumpy over the prospect of our relationship becoming public knowledge (and thereby ending up as fodder for three websites), she was otherwise the more stable party in the relationship. So it is hard for me to put myself into a scenario whereby my lover suddenly commands me to remove all my clothes outdoors in January and then runs off with them.

I’m pretty sure that I would have demurred, and let the emotional chips fall where they may. Push come to shove, I might have gone topless for her. Journal records from my days at NU reveal some instances of shirt removal on my part at very little prompting from NU females—like, for example, none whatsover.* I was the veritable Captain Kirk of NU.

But my topless episodes tended to occur at private parties, not on random weekday afternoons on campus walkways. But removal of pants and underwear? For a random audience, not limited to students who know me and my charming quirks? No, no way.

“I apologise that what I did, which I did to protect my loved one, resulted in such a situation,” the chastened lecturer later told his students. (The Express Tribune)

So, did this solemn and very Japanese apology take place after the recovery of his wardrobe or...? In the absence of confirmation, we can at least dream.

“The instructor acted to assuage the woman’s insecure feelings but admitted it was an extremely careless thing to do. He expressed his intention to resign,” the school said in a statement. (The Express Tribune)

The intention to resign, likewise, is very Japanese. Still, the question of whether or not the offer was made naked is left frustratingly unaddressed.

The student was later located and returned the clothes, local media reported, adding that the pair then went home together. (The Express Tribune)

Okay. So, all’s well that ends well, eh wot?

The statement detailing the events, written by the president of the university and posted on the establishment’s website, along with the teacher’s apology, has understandably garnered quite a bit of attention from the Japanese online community.

“Very straightforward – a nice composition.”

“I was more surprised to read that he was living with a student than by the fact he got naked.”

“Reading this document, I can tell the university president sympathizes a bit with the teacher; how funny.”

“That stupid girl ought to be expelled.”

“What a nice story.”

“I hope no one got hurt in this incident.”

“Shouldn’t this girl drop out of school too?”

(Japan Today)

It was the second comment that seized my attention . Really? The getting naked part was not the most surprising aspect for you?

I subsequently tried to concoct possible news items that would surprise me more than word of a fellow fifty-something faculty member deliberately stripping naked on campus, and eventually came up with these:

Vice President Biden Found to Possess Secret Antlers Hidden in Weave

Dole Ketchup Proven Effective in Luring Zombie Pandas into Quicksand

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Renounces ISIS Emirship to Prep for Daily Show Hosting Duties

I could go on, but I don’t think “teacher living in sin with a student” is going to make the list no matter how hard I brainstorm.

Ultimately, though, a disturbing theme running through these comments and, indeed, the whole story, is the concerted effort to, as the kids today say, throw the student under the bus. Hers is the only voice not heard. It may be true that she is often less than wholly rational, but even if her version of events begins “Santorum jellybeans shlup the Princess Moon horsey to Burning Man in Muskogee,” I, for one, would like to hear it and render my own judgment.

* Some accounts of my sudden toplessness with NU females are to be found in my upcoming memoir, Other People’s Daughters—available at Amazon and other major outlets at any moment now!!!**

** That is, whenever Gary finally finished the damned cover art!