Thursday, October 25, 2007

Erectile Dysfunction

One thing about living in Russia for as long as I have; you pretty much get over being nervous and tongue tied around hot chicks. There are so many, and you're around them so often, you build up a tolerance.

Funny the little things that can set you off though -- I THOUGHT I had developed an immunity to batted eyelashes, well-displayed cleavage and tossed hair and all that. Today after class one of my students stayed behind to ask me some questions about translation from her university course. She's a typical one -- face not much, but great body, see-through tops and tight jeans and spike heels and all that. (In short, like all the slutty girls from high school I regret I never had sex with.)

She asked me for some synonyms for "build" and I wrote down "construct" and "manufacture" and "erect."

"Yeah," she said, standing closer to me than the girl in that song by the Police, "erect. Erect. That's the one I want."

My tongue knotted and my prostate clenched and twenty-odd years of experience with women evaporated.

"Could I use that word in, for example, news broadcasts?" she asked sweetly.


"Yeah," I said, shyly. "Uh, it, uh, depends on the context. . ."

"Yes, I think that's the word I was looking for," she said, smiling. "Erect."

I got so rattled I left my backpack full of books behind when I left the class.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

And If A Frog Had Wings, It Wouldn't Bust Its Ass A'Hopping

Since I've cruelly severed the lifeline of people who wish to comment on this blog -- and damned if I'm not DIGGING the peace and quiet -- allow me to share some reader mail.

Guy sends me an email a few weeks ago which read, in part:

I have a good story for you. No, it isn't some anecdote about my experience teaching English. It's scarier than that. OK, here goes....I am actually planning on teaching English in Russia this coming year! Howabout that?! In fact, I just discovered your site the other day and I'm addicted to it. I wish there were more stories on Russia, as that is the country I am interested in. Guess I'll just have to re-read them. I'm planning on teaching in St. Petersburg. Are the women in big cities as whore-ish as they are in provincial Russia? Are any of the women sane over there?

I directed him to this blog for more stories specifically about Russia over the last few years.

He responded in somewhat of a panic:

Damnit English Teacher X! I wish I was a little bit older (or decided I wanted to do this a little bit earlier). Everytime I would read one of your "English Teacher X Stories" and saw you mention banging some girl, my heart would grow a little larger. Now, you seem to make it sound like girls over there don't want Americans anymore. Say it ain't so! Could you assauge my fears at all? I mean, I DID read in one of the reader comments from over the summer that some teacher's female students call him 'Bozha' (God) and that you he (or someone?) is treated like Ricky Martin. I guess it's easier in the provinces. But I want to do the whole St. Petersburg thing first. Fuckity, fuck, fuck. Thanks again for your time.

Here was my response, and this is my official position on the subject:

I have to say, it probably gets down to: do you do okay with the girls back where you came from? You'll probably do doubly or triply well here. If you don't, you'll probably do a bit better, but don't expect miracles.

I'm so happy I might even post a cleavage picture next time, stay tuned.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Flight of the Doofus

We got a new applicant last week -- a kid who came in to the office looking for work based on the recommendation of a Russian acquaintance.

This was kind of strange -- we don't get many walk-ins, as we're pretty out of the way here -- any foreigners that come to work here as teachers either come through the Internet, get transferred from a branch in Moscow or wherever, or come from one of the other schools in town, having known me socially already.

When I met the kid -- 20, I think he is -- he explained that he came to Vodkaberg to work on a charity project, through an internet website he found with the optimistic and utopian name "Volunteers for Peace."

The charity project, it seems, was simply working as a teacher at one of our rival schools, with nothing in payment except a room with a crazy old rich lady and whatever food they provided. This "charity" turned out to be nothing of the sort -- the school was taking a considerable cash payment from the students after his "lessons," which he was thrown into with no preparation or materials at all.

The kid was right off the vine, no doubt -- young and spotty-faced and floppy-haired and looking around with eyes of a rabbit about to be flattened by a Mack truck. As the Russian idiom has it, "He still has mother's milk on his lips."

Nonetheless, he found the courage, or desperation, to get away from the "charity project" after a couple of weeks, and he came to us; we agreed to give him an internship, which would consist of two weeks of watching classes and instructional seminars with me, while he stayed for free in one of our shittiest apartments. Then he'd begin teaching and receiving a salary on the third week.

He lasted a week. He balked at signing a contract of more than three months. He's now waiting for his parents to send him the money to get a plane ticket home. Out of pity we agreed to let him stay in our shittiest apartment, which nobody else wants to live in anyway.

I asked him, in our first interview, why he had wanted to come to Russia.

"I thought it would teach me something about life," he said.

Heh heh.

Once again, I blame the Internet. It's made it far too easy for any moron with a stupid idea to carry that idea out. And of course, it's also made it exponentially easier for those who prey on morons with stupid ideas.

A real cultural experience. Like having your corpse dragged through the streets of Mogadishu by an angry mob.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Scum Sinks To The Bottom

All I'm going to say about the Canadian pedophile who was arrested for buggering boys while teaching English in Southeast Asia -- note that he was working as a chaplain counselling teenage boys in Canada before he became an EFL teacher.

So I continue to hold that there are no more pedophile teachers than there are, say, pedophile Catholic priests. Oh, maybe that was a bad example. . .

Yeah, it's disgusting, but just like the vast majority of teachers don't bugger young boys, plenty of people go to Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia and bugger boys without teaching English, so spare me your stupid comments.

But stuff like that that never happens in America, though, thank god.

I'm turning on comment moderation, finally -- there are just too damn many people pretending to be each other, it's confusing. (And it hasn't been me, for the most part.) And why the hell are people abusing some other blog writer on MY site, and not his? You can all feel free to play make-believe over at the English Teacher X Hate Site. . . (This link was broken, I just fixed it, if you tried before.)

Sunday, October 14, 2007


English Teacher D came here in August. He's a friend of the guy that decided to come to Vodkaberg after seeing the English Teacher X website.

He got pushed around and menaced by a group of Russian youths on his first night in town; black-out drunk on vodka, he decided he wanted to practise his Russian with some locals, at 3 or 4 am on the beach; when he and his friend decided to leave, they got shoved around a bit and insulted.

Nothing too serious though.

The next night the events of this story happened, in which an innocent party turned into a seige. In truth, I think he slept through most of that incident, or at least the end of it.

The next Saturday, he and two other teachers were attacked by a group of young men in a park and relieved of their phones and money.

A week or two after that, he got grabbed by the police while going out of a nightclub; strangely, however, they were very nice to him and gave him a ride home. He sent me an SMS telling me this, written while drunk -- "duck this antansy!" his phone offered as a T9 dictionary alternative to his badly spelled "fuck this country."

All the while, he was discovering that English teaching really IS difficult and boring, that English teacher bar conversations really ARE banal and disgusting.

I think there were a few other incidents; or maybe it was just his damp, cold flat that was the deciding factor. The black-out drunks and the toxic two-day hangovers surely didn't help.

He's leaving this Wednesday.

As DOS, I'm considering some new ideas for teacher training inspired by the movie THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM - sleep deprivation, water boarding and situational brainwashing to inspire maximum loyalty and dedication. "Can you commit yourself to this program?"


Although I didn't like the end where he turns into an amphibian and swims away. . .


Sunday, October 07, 2007


I think I'm not so worried about my excessive drinking as I am about my excessive bootleg DVD purchasing.

I go to the Pirate Disc Market on Sundays and buy movies, kind of randomly, from the 20 ruble (about 80 cents) bin, and the occasional new release for 80 rubles ($3.10) or so.

Averaging about five a week, I think, though I probably only watch about three movies a week. . .

I think it's an authentic cultural experience, though, because, like, they often have Russian subtitles, and occasionally don't have English on them at all.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Who Needs An International Language If You Have Nothing To Fucking Say?

Spent a good chunk of this beautiful fall afternoon doing speaking tests at a large mobile phone provider here in Vodkaberg.

I had this conversation about fifteen times:

ME: "So why do you want to study English now?"


ME: "And how often do you use English in your work?"

YCD: "Almost never."

ME: "How often do you speak English in your work?"

YCD: "Never."

ME: "How often do you read in English?"

YCD: "Sometimes I read technical documents, but usually they are in Russian now."

ME: "How often do you write in English?"

YCD: "Never."

ME: "And what are your plans for the future?"

YCD: (Pause) "I don't have any. I want to work in this job."

This so we can form some groups of twelve, of which maybe two or three people will show up every week, because they're so fucking busy at work.

I know, I know, they want to learn English for future work POSSIBILITIES, and the company is paying for it -- a fee which, to a multi-million dollar company, is negligible -- but for FUCK'S SAKE!

And I'm also unconvinced by all these housewives who come into school saying they need to learn English because they travel abroad often. Bull honkus -- every aspect of modern tourism, from the hotels and airports with automated check in, international language ATMs, the guided tours, internet reservations, fast food and supermarkets -- it's all designed so you don't have to speak AT ALL.

They just need English to harass the waiters and yell at beggars. . .