Tuesday, November 21, 2006


this post was inspired by gianluca's thorough and very apt treatment of english grammar.

when i was living in japan, i taught what we called "pilot's english". this would involve sometimes going to the airport and testing pilot applicants in their level of english. we would sit there, me and two other guys also from australia, called mark and paul. to relieve the tedium of listening to rote interview responses, for hours and hours over a period of days, mark came up with the idea that we teachers were all POWs, being held in japan, and being forced to work in an english school.

this led to us having names, i was nurse melbournegirl, and would have to look out for dysentery and fever and mark was lance corporal. the senior teacher, jay, was the major-general and the director of studies, alex, was the brigadier.

this also led us to leaving elaborate notes for each other in the pigeon holes back at school, some of which i still have. things like:

dear nurse melbournegirl. we're on rations now, and the buggars have extended my contract so i'm here for another year at least. troop morale is at an all-time low. damn this war!

dear lance, supplies of penicillin are getting low, and there's been an outbreak of typhoid. i just don't know how long i can keep going. damn this war!

sometimes we would have the pilot applicants come to the school for the interview. it was one of these that provided me with a memory i've never forgotten.

as part of the interview, we had to ask about interests and hobbies. we would always get the same old fucking answers - i like rock and roll music. i'm interested in baseball and soccer. i enjoy very much playing the guitar.

the applicants would bow into the room, and sometimes bow out of the room, backing away from the table behind which i sat, slowly inching to the exit. it was excruciating to watch.

so here i was in one of the interviews. going through the motions. nothing spectacular about this one, i'm thinking. ordinary, blah, boring.

until we get to the hobbies and interests part of the interview.

me: so, what music do you like?

[stifles yawn. looks out window. wishes window would open. i'm dying here. i can't breathe. i hate japan.]

pilot applicant # 86: do you know billy joh-el?

me [interest piqued]: yes, i do.

pilot applicant # 86: i like billy joh-el.

me: so do i.

pa #86: my fabrite song honesty. do you know honesty?

me: yes, i love honesty.

pa: may i sing it for you?

what could i say, dear readers. of COURSE he could sing it for me.

If you search for tenderness
It isn't hard to find
You can have the love you need to live
But if you look for truthfulness
You might just as well be blind
It always seems to be so hard to give

me and pilot:
is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue
Honesty is hardly ever heard
And mostly what I need from you

i expect him to finish here.

he doesn't.

I can always find someone
To say they sympathize
If I wear my heart out on my sleeve
But I don't want some pretty face
To tell me pretty lies
All I want is someone to believe

me and pilot:
is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue
Honesty is hardly ever heard
And mostly what I need from you

now we're done. no, we're not.

I can find a lover
I can find a friend
I can have security
Until the bitter end
Anyone can comfort me
With promises again
I know,
I know

When I'm deep inside of me
Don't be too concerned
I won't ask for nothin' while I'm gone
But when I want sincerity
Tell me where else can I turn
Because you're the only one that I depend on

me and pilot:
Honesty is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue
Honesty is hardly ever heard
And mostly what I need from you

i gave him the top mark. and told him, honestly, that he would make an excellent pilot.


magical_m said...

that is gold.

pure gold.

how did you keep a straight face?

LadyCracker said...

an excellent story

Rowena said...

This is fucking genius.

Would make a great scene in a movie.

magical_m said...

it kinda reminds me of those asian backstreet boys that have those genius clips on youtube.

i can see it now...

I'm not Craig said...

Was there an encore? Please tell me you both rocked out to "Only The Good Die Young" before closing the show with a soaringly intense version of "Innocent Man".

Wish I'd been there.

Melba said...

i didn't keep a straight face, m_m. i smiled in a blissful manner. so did he. it was a beautiful and amazing thing.

and no, no encore inc. just that one number.

of course we all know how fond of karaoke the japanese are; i think he'd been practising that particular number for years.

Susanne said...

Great post.

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