The principal announced that since there seemed to be no further opinions he would think the matter through and make his decision. The final result was a week of confinement for the boarding students and an apology to me in my presence. I'd been prepared to resign my post and return home, but my demands had been met. This was unfortunate, as things eventually culminated in a far more serious affair, but more on that later. The principal announced the resumption of the meeting and continued as follows. The morals of the students must be corrected through the influence of the teachers. As a first step, he would ask the teachers to refrain from frequenting eating and drinking establishments. Special occasions such as farewell gatherings were of course exempted, but solitary outings to dubious places were discouraged. For example, soba and dumpling shops. This started another round of laughter. Noda turned to Yama Arashi and said 'Tempura' with a wink, but Yama Arashi paid him no heed. Served him right!
I don't have a sharp mind and didn't understand Tanuki's meaning in full, but if middle school teachers aren't allowed to frequent soba or dumpling shops then a big eater like myself can't manage in this job. If that's the case, then fine, but from the start they should have recruited someone who doesn't like soba and dumplings. To be silently handed a letter of appointment and then later hit with a punitive prohibition on soba and dumplings was a severe blow to one like me with no other pastimes. Red Shirt had something to add. "Fundamentally speaking, a middle school teacher belongs to the upper rung of society. As such, he should not simply pursue creature comforts. Giving oneself over to such things will degrade the quality of one's character. However, as a human being one requires some form of recreation to make the confines of the countryside tolerable. A teacher should seek out noble activities of the intellect, such as fishing, reading of literary journals, or new-style poetry and haiku. ..."
As I listened he continued on with his self-serving rubbish. If fishing up fertilizer from the open sea, equating goruki fish to the Russian literati, standing his favorite geisha under a pine, and composing 'a frog jumps into an old pond' are activities of the intellect, then so are eating tempura and gulping down dumplings. Instead of such worthless pastimes he should go off and launder his red shirts. I couldn't take any more, so I asked him, "Is meeting up with Madonna an activity of the intellect?" This time no one laughed. They looked at each other with curious expressions. Red Shirt himself averted his eyes in discomfort. Take that! Gotcha! But most pitiable of all was Uranari. After I spoke, his pale face grew even paler.