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Saturday, June 23, 2001


Blame diets for plummeting population

Today we address the problem of Japan's declining student population. If you teach at a university like I do, you are well aware that classes have gotten smaller and smaller over the years. At the women's university where I teach, the classes are half the size they were five years ago.

The Ministry of Education blames this on the overall decrease in Japan's population. But I disagree. I blame it on the current fashion: superslim. In the quest to become superslim, students have lost so much weight that we can no longer see them.

I know this is true because when a student asks how many times she has been absent from my class and I tell her, she always says, "Ehhhh? But, I was there!" After all, if you're even the slightest bit farsighted, you may have missed the speck sitting in the back of the classroom. Even the girl sitting up front wearing the black sweater, you may have mistaken for a piece of lint.

I can always tell when a student is on the verge of disappearing. It is long after superslim has been achieved.

First, to achieve superslim, they have stopped all exercise. They prefer a nonmuscular supple look, like veal tenderloin. The waist gradually becomes thinner than the ankle. Since Japanese women barely have hips anyway and the pelvic bone is merely a support beam for the body; the hips and the waist become one.

She'll wear high heels to further elongate her appearance. I have two darling students who are so tall and slender, they'd make a beautiful pair of skis.

Eventually, a student achieves superslim when her figure looks like chewing gum someone has stretched between their fingers.

My students have learned they can become superslim, even gain fiber-optic status, by eating diet food. Gaining transparency, however, is another matter. Only by giving up eating entirely can they become black holes.

Another beloved student, whose fashion accessories are a unique blend of Louis Vuitton and Hello Kitty, is disappearing by the day. Every class, she disappears further and further behind her LV bag. I fully expect that next week her friend will come to class carrying her in the bag. At some point during class, I'll hear a "poof!" and she'll have become a black hole.

In order for Japan to regain its population, someone has got to teach women to eat. We must promote eating as a way to get ahead in life. "Eat for presence!" "Eat to pass your classes!"

What brought on this superslim fashion anyway? I think it's the puffy people, usually high-school students, who are the first generation to be brought up on McDonald's and junk food.

They're not fat yet -- they don't have the drapey, droopy flesh. But some young people are definitely puffing out.

How can this be, when surely their mothers are still cooking Japanese food, which is known to have negative 250 calories per item? I think the puffy people are mistaken. They're not eating bags of potato chips and dozens of Big Macs everyday, they're stuffing them up under their shirts instead.

Soon the puffy people will be university students. Which brings up the question: Since we count the black holes as absent, do we count the puffy people twice?

Perhaps it is the fear of becoming puffy that has made my students go to the other extreme.

Today, only four students appeared in my class. As I walked over to close the door, I felt something crunch under my foot. I looked down and saw a now dead, barely discernable black insect. Or was it? I don't even want to think about it.

Visit the Japan Lite home page at www.amychavez.com or e-mail comments to: amychavez@mailexcite.com

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