Thursday, January 19, 2012

The cast of characters

January 18, 2012

The cast.

You don’t move to Bishkek in where-the-fuck-ever-stan to be an English teacher and not encounter in your co-workers the usual host of oddities and societal rejects. One has to wonder sometimes what impression our students form of the world outside their borders if this is their only sustained contact with foreigners.

I went out with the Brits last night to have a beer, and it didn’t take long for the creation of nicknames to begin. It began as a way to differentiate two teachers of the same name.

“harry scary”

“Yeah, he’s…”

“Let’s all go eat dog just to fuck with him.”

“And the other one?”

“Oh yeah, the Mormon.”

“Is he really? He’s from Wisconsin. Are there Mormons there?”

“No—well, I don’t know. But he looks like he’s wearing special underwear—and it’s a size too small.”

“bearded g----“

“No, but the other one has a beard too.”

“Well, the greater and the lesser.”

“G---- the greater and G--- the lesser. Sure, that works.”

“And the girl? What’s her name again?”

“Which one?”

“The one I’d like to roofie.”

“Yeah, and then not do anything with.”

“Well, what’s her last name?”

“I don’t know. I’ve been here two years, and I don’t know.”

“How about Ritalin?”

“Too obvious. How about poodle?”


“Her hair.”

“How about calm-the-fuck-down-and-breathe?”

“Hm, yeah, but then everyone would know who we’re referring to.”

“We’ll get back to her.”

“And the gay one?”



“Oh, he’s not gay. He has a girlfriend.”

“He’s gay. He just isn’t out of the closet yet. Trust me. Gaydar clanging on this one.”

“I thought he was the Mormon.”

“No, he’s Canadian.”

“And the other girl?”

“The one who never talks? How about deer-in-the-headlights?”



“Who killed Kenny.”

“Right. Never speaks.”

“Kenny Kenny”

“Or sometimes Kenny Kenny Kenny?”

(Silence from the boys. That one fell flat, obviously.)

“And the Scot?”

“Oh, brown rice, yoga…”

“It’s all to get laid. Really. He got his first date on the flight here.”

“Led Zeppelin, Beatles…”

“How about downward facing dog?”


“Yoga move. Ass in the air.”


“Have you seen that scarf he wears?”

“Uh, no.”

“Dreadful, really.”

“And what about us. You and me. I mean, Phil’s already got one.”

“No. I don’t like the one I’ve got. “



“And you’re really going to marry her? And do what?”

“Take her to England. DO you know how much a visa costs? 800 pounds.”

“And there’s the interview. That should be fun. Does she ever not hate you?”

“Oh, about five minutes out of every day.”


“Have you Dutch ovened her yet?”

“Dutch oven? What’s that?”

“Where you fart and pull the covers over her head.”

“Yeah. Now she knows when I’m going to do it. Says I get a look in my eyes.”

“Well, that’s all right then.”

“And Stephen. Functioning alcoholic is too obvious.”

“Last name…”

“No, nothing with cereal.”

“We’ll get back to you. And Justine?”

“Remember that joke I told about ginger babies?”

“What, the abortion joke?”

“Justine ‘pro-choice’ Derrick.”

“Fine, but it’s not my real color.”

“It’s not? What is?”

“Changes. Depends on the season.”

“Mine’s the same.”

“Hm. Justine ‘stiletto’ Derrick.”

“Justine ‘fishnet’ Derrick.”

“Justine ‘bondage’ Derrick.”

“Hey, wait! How did I end up with dominatrix nicknames?”

And so it went, with everyone continuing to riff on various nicknames. I’d gone out to lunch with the Brits, and that conversation covered farting (again), gay sex (with a story about someone admitting to sticking a toothbrush up his ass), a former girlfriend who was a Japanese jockey (who brought her saddle with her sometimes—burning a mental image that I will never, ever be able to erase)…

But also teaching. The Brits are both experienced teachers, so we discussed problems Russian speakers have with English and how to target these problems. We discussed the upcoming curriculum redesign that we’re going to be doing. We discussed the plan to give the students kindles. We discussed ways we can help the newbies be better teachers—without their knowing that we’ve intervened.

So yes, while these two guys have some obvious issues (both the products of a British public education, by the way: incredibly smart, but also incredibly fucked-up), they are both competent professionals who care about the job they do and their students (sometimes a little too much; see reference to pregnancy in conversation above).

After the beer at the bar, the two gentlemen escorted me home. They did stop on the way, however, to buy seven and a half liters of beer and five packs of cigarettes.


At 9:48 PM, Blogger pderrick said...

Makes my head spin just to read it!

At 5:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi DJ, it's Giorgio, the smartest person in the world, the baby student of level 5. I see that you are having a delightful live in Bishkeck, and I envy you....not at all !! I sent you an e-mail two or three weeks ago, did you receive that? Anyway, the school is going great. We have a new teacher, Tiina, from Finland, nice, gentle and excited about her job (like you). We have some new students and we lost a couple of the old ones, in total we are 14 students (I guess). But we miss you. You know, you were a friend for us, and we had a lot of fun together....Ok, You were also the best teacher on the Earth.
Have fun in Bishkeck.
Be aware, I'm watching you.

ps: how many "run ons?"


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