Monday, March 10, 2014

Nothing Makes You Floss Like a Sadistic Dentist

... Especially if he's one of your students.

In order to supplement my income, I've taken on some private ESL students in my free time. It's actually quite easy for someone like me to find private students online. All you need is a profile on a Japanese-friendly ESL teacher website... and the students will basically find you. Most of them are generic businessmen who lead very monotonous lives... you might get a couple doctors or lawyers with something interesting in mind, but most of them are just looking to impress their boss with some English they've learned on the side.

We work 14 hours a day... cut us some slack!
We meet in cafes on an hourly basis... there is usually very little expectation of significant improvement. The majority of my private students are hard working gentlemen (and women) who are just trying to maintain the abilities they have learned in their youths. Out of 100% of the people I meet for a trial lesson, I accept about 80% for a repeat lesson. Approximately 60% continue on a regular basis, and 20% continue past a 3 month point. The rest stay with me almost permanently.
A win-win situation

But once in a while, I get an "Anomaly." A student who stands out from all the others. These people are not necessarily good at English, but are just SO WEIRD that I can't ignore them. And that kind of sh$t fascinates me.

The Dentist is a good example.

The Dentist's English is quite terrible. I'm not exaggerating. When we met, he didn't know the plural of "tooth."
Seriously... Let that sink in for a minute.

This man was accepting foreign patients when we met.


I've never trusted dentists. I think that anyone who sticks their fingers in another person's mouth for a living is not to be trusted. I've always been wary of their power over people, and I've never felt safe around them. I don't know why- I've actually had pretty great dental care my whole life. Despite my totally amazing dental-care history, I still carry this suspicion of dentists.

And then I met The Dentist.

He comes from a family of Dentists. His father is a Dentist, and his three older brothers are Dentists. His mother is a Dental Hygienist. I can just imagine the weird-ass upbringing this guy has had. Tooth-themed family outings... tooth-related children's toys...

And yet... when he asked me for a lesson, I said yes. I wanted to believe that I could look past the weirdness of his dentally-oriented history. After all, he's a doctor! He specializes in dental implants and has aspirations for dental surgery. He also seemed like a very nice person and was very passionate about his trade.
I respect that.

His lessons were always very dental-themed. After I discovered how little English he understood, I took it upon myself to teach him basic phrases for taking care of patients.
"Please sit down and lay back."
       "We need to extract the back molar."
                   "Please sit up and spit."
"Do you have insurance?"

After a couple months, things got... more specific. He was interested in high-end dental implants for seniors. I started teaching him phrases like:
"After we extract the tooth, we will drill into the jaw and surgically implant a replacement."
"Please come back tomorrow so that we can clean the area with ethanol and remove the stitches."
"You have something which looks like periodontal pre-cancer. We need to take x-rays."

I would have been proud of my work... if it wasn't for his reaction. Every time we talked about removing a tooth or doing something gruesome, he would smile and giggle... like a school boy. He would describe dental surgery like a puppy discovering food. He started to bring misshapen dental molds to our lessons for demonstration- in order to better describe how he would rip open gums and drill into jaw bones.

An actual thing that he brought to class
My student, The Dentist, became a confident monster. He would pantomime ripping out a tooth without anesthetic as a "hilarious mistake." He now had the English to tell me IN GREAT DETAIL ABOUT THE REPERCUSSIONS OF GUM DISEASE. He would laugh out loud about the poor bastards who couldn't afford long-term cavity-filling treatment, and were forced to come back to him every 3 years for "care."

Needless to say, I flossed before every lesson.

So now I'm stuck between a piece of plaque and a molar; I could get rid of the guy to stop my skin from crawling, but he's a hell of a student who's eager to learn and pays good money for the opportunity.

My sick sense of curiosity wants me to find out what he'll do next... (last class he pretended to stir his coffee with an upper jaw).
I'll probably keep seeing him- he's like a vicarious horror movie, for christsakes!
I'm genuinely conflicted on this one... What should I do?

Stay tuned and goodnight!

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