So I'm bicycling home like a madwoman, trying to dodge the massive drops of rain that have started to fall, full-on in a thunder-and-lightning storm. (This is after bolting out of school after I heard a crack of thunder so loud and prolonged I had to ask two teachers if it had been, in fact, thunder.)
I get to where I park my bike at the foot of the staircase to my building, and there's a Japanese kid there, maybe 11 years old, parking and locking his bike. (I've never seen anyone else actually locking their bikes there; in fact, the same 3 or 4 seem to be usually there all the time, wasting away, unused, but too nice to be abandoned bikes.) I wait in the rain for him to move out of the way. He looks at me quizzically. I gesture toward the parking. He looks at me quizzically again. I say, "Can I park my bike here?" and make bike-parking motions. He says, "Oh, yes!" I realize this is strange, but move forward and start locking my bike.
Then he asks me: "Do you live here?"
Not: "You rive here?" or "Koko sunde imasu ka?"
No. "Do you live here?" The kid looks Japanese, but he sure don't sound it.
"Yes," I answer. "Uh, do you live here?"
I swear, I am not making this up. I've just been answered "yup" by an 11-year-old Japanese boy, who then climbs up and jumps over the half-wall out to the regular parking and starts up the stairs.
A little weirded-out, I start up the stairs myself. He is standing on the second-floor front balcony, and I see he has rung someone's doorbell. The person answers the bell (for the uninitiated, you answer your doorbell through a phone and there is a speaker outside so you can check who it is). I don't remember if the phone was answered in English or Japanese, but the boy responded, "Mama."
As I turned the corner, he saw me and I said, "Have a good night." This one always freaks out my high-level academic senior high school students, even the ones who like English, and I figured it was a sure-fire way to test his level of English. Without missing a beat, he answered, "Good night."
Japan never ceases to surprise me.
Anyways, I am going to perhaps post again here later - the Homies were here over the weekend! - but for now, my stomach is yelling at me and my laundry - out on an ever-dampening balcony - also beckons.