Class by Elizabeth Kate Switaj

Before they ever spoke, Linda and Meg had sat next to each other in the cramped lecture hall for three weeks, their thighs touching, while Dr. Laurens showed slides of ancient Japanese art. Meg’s eyes never left the screen, but Linda glanced at her as often as she dared. Meg sometimes mentioned visiting museums when she was teaching in Japan, so she must have taken time off from school after her BA, but there were no white strands in her black hair.

At the end of class, Linda invited Meg over to her apartment. —My roommates and I have a weekly DVD night.

—I’m pretty busy. I’m not sure I can. What are you watching?

—Lost in Translation

—Then no. I hate that movie.

Linda flushed and pulled her purse to her chest. —I thought you’d like it since it’s about foreigners in Japan and . . .

—No, it’s about rich white people whining about how hard their lives are. Japan’s a backdrop.

—I . . . didn’t realize . . .

—The girl goes to a Buddhist temple and then gets upset because she didn’t feel anything, but why should she? She’s not Buddhist

—I haven’t seen it before. Um, I’ll see you tomorrow?

Meg nodded. The next day she sat in her usual spot, but Linda sat in the last row.


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15 responses to “Class by Elizabeth Kate Switaj

  1. guy

    I’m with Meg. I have nothing but bad things to say about that movie. That said, i like the way you have Linda react to the outburst.

  2. Really neat capture of that moment we all most dread with establishing communication!

  3. Sorry, Meg was stupid, she should have read the signs and gone along, even if it her attitude to the film remained unchanged. Or gone along afterwards … or offered alternate arrangements. Stupid woman … so my intense reaction to her annoying reaction shows what a good job you did with this story!

  4. funny, i read this as a comment on social class because i’d just watched russell brand on american tv. this is very well told, enjoyed the read. hanging on to the other dimension of “class” because this interests me and i know you’re from english speaking europe perhaps…

    • I was definitely thinking about social class when I put this together; the difficulty of being someone whose education causes them to move in circles of a markedly higher social class is one of my dearest themes. I guess that’s inevitable when you grow up in an apartment but have classmates who don’t know how to make toast because the help have always done it.

      (Side note: where I’m from is actually a bit complicated. The simple version is that I’m a US expatriate living in Northern Ireland, but that leaves out a lot in between.)

  5. very much like a movie script – also, want to hear the rest of the story if there is one. always good to have a question as the reader when the piece is over, like: what’s meg’s going to say to linda when they talk again?

  6. guy

    Thanks for the comment Marcus. Yes, that’s why i like this one so much. This is even better than i thought.

  7. Aw, poor girl. She didn’t deserve that.

  8. Al McDermid

    Well played. I don’t think I’ve met one expat here who wasn’t annoyed by that film, and the ‘relationship’ is so well told. A very good story.

    • I actually had roommates over there who loved it. Maybe it was different since we weren’t actually in the city?

      • Al McDermid

        It’s not a bad film, and, given the strangely hostile stance the Tokyo government takes toward film-making (nearly impossible to get a shooting permit), she did an admirable job. But many parts of it are annoying. Anyway, just meant that the part of Meg was well done. And Linda to at the end. A perfect reaction.

  9. I’m glad Linda blew her off ;^)

    Telling piece, and you nailed Linda’s uncomfort zone. Peace…

  10. Pingback: Week #27 – lost in translation « 52|250 A Year of Flash

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