“Give my left nut?”何ですか

I sat in the classroom straining to discern the differences between the beeps on the copy machine and the beeps on the door keypad to guess if my 7 o’clock student, Dr. Terakado, was coming in.

From 7-7:45 each Tuesday night we talk about Japanese culture & history.  He brings in photocopies of a textbook and reads to me.  I correct his pronunciation (not often – his English is very good) and we chat.

Nearly 10 past seven and still no doc.  As I’m beginning to get hopeful he won’t show up (I love our class, but who wouldn’t enjoy an impromptu 40 minute paid break?), he scurries into class wearing a sick mask and apologizing for his lateness.  He’s had a busy day.

Like the gentleman he is, he hangs up his coat & slides the door closed before settling into his seat.  You may remember from my earlier post that Dr. Terakado is (obviously) a doctor and enjoys singing opera – a very smart, classy guy.  We chat about the week while he takes out his dictionaries, papers, and pens.

“I have a question for you, though,” he says as he shuffles one extra paper about.  “I was on YouTube [red flag, red flag uh oh] watching a DVD about opera [Aww, he’s cute.] and reading through a discussion in the comments [“Discussion.” Phew.  Okay.] when I saw this,”
Usually I quickly scan ahead while students are reading, but Dr. Terakado is so quick I didn’t have the chance.  Imagine my surprise at hearing “give my left nut” when I’m still a few words behind, contemplating how to explain “hellish hallucinations.”

I, of course, start laughing and plead silently that he will not ask the question I know he’s going to.

Quizzical, balding and 53 with glasses, he looks up and asks, “give my left nut?  What does this mean?”

You can see my explanation right there – “really want to.”  As I try to elaborate without uttering “testicle”, “nut”, “ball”, or any other variation, he thankfully jumps in and says, “a man’s part?  So, this means to give up a body part.”

Just when I think I’m off the hook, he continues.  “Is there a comparable expression for women?  “Give my left breast?”

Choking through laughs, I tell him no and offer “give my right arm” instead.

“Should I learn this?” he asks, meaning the phrase.  “Is this something I should say?”

“No, no, no… well, maybe to friends.”  I forget to mention that it’s uncommon for someone of his age and, arguably, his education to use such wording.

“To men?”

“Well, not men you don’t know… it’s in somewhat bad taste.”

“So not to you!”

Again, laughing, “no, definitely not to me!”

“Oh, okay.  I won’t say it.”

And then we talked about Japanese history for a half hour.

何ですか nan desuka: what is?


About Michelle

I lived in Japan for a year & a half teaching English. Now I'm blogging about learning to cook in NYC.
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One Response to “Give my left nut?”何ですか

  1. Denise says:

    This is great! Very well handled 🙂

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