Did the title draw you in? You think this is going to be a story about how someone tutored someone else through the use of underwear? Well it's not. But you clicked on this so you might as well read it anyway.

I mentioned before that I have an assignment with the mormon youth at church here in Palau. I like to refer to this in a southern accent as "my Christian duties." Mostly this entails me boring them to death 2 times a week. I'm in serious need of ideas for activities to do with a group of 5 to 10 teenage boys . . .

Last Sunday I found out that one of the boys, Scarly, is studying to take the GED this coming spring. This guy is busy working full time, taking care of his family, keeping on top of his studies, and is only 17 years old. He's busy, and, well, I'm not, so I thought I would offer some help.

Hey, do you need any help? I'm happy to do tutoring sessions with you.

No. That's ok.

Seriously, I am happy to help! Do you want to come over!?

No. Thanks though. I got it.

No really. Please. I have all the time in the world! COME OVER TO MY HOUSE! PLEASE?!?! PLEASE COME OVER?!?!?!?! PLEASE!!!??

[Awkward shifty eyes] Um . . . ok. I guess.

I am SO good and getting friends to come over to my house.

Ok, so maybe I was more desperate for company than he was for help. I'm still totally counting this as fulfilling my Christian Duties.

I asked him what he wanted to study together and he told me that he could use the most help in English.

Guys, I've been speaking English for practically my whole life. I think in English. I'm typing in English right now. I'm, like, pretty good at English. So I just assumed that I would basically be nominated as Micronesia's teacher of the year after one tutoring session.

I mean, I wouldn't win. Because nobody wins the first year they get nominated. It's probably all political. But next year? I would totally win teacher of the year.

And this was all because I know English. Like the back of my hand.

Or so I thought.

On Tuesday I rushed home from work to prepare for our first session. We knew Scarly was on his way and so we frantically tried to tidy up in the final minutes yesterday before his arrival. Daniel had done a bunch of laundry earlier in the day and walked out to get a pile of clothes from the communal drier one floor up from us. When he returned, he dropped the clean clothes onto the couch and out from the pile fell a special surprise:

A bright. Pink. Women's. Thong.

We both looked down at it, and then at each other, then at it, then at each other again. Then I asked him.

"Daniel," and I tried to say it without judgment in my voice, but I totally had judgment in my voice, "are you wearing women's underwear?"

Daniel denied it and said that this was "obviously" left in the drier by one of our neighbors. And besides, if he was wearing women's underwear he would totally get something more comfortable, like granny panties.

I thought he had a point, so I dropped the suspicion.

Scarly showed up just then and we frantically buried it under the pile of clean clothes while trying not to touch it at all.

That's the thing about underwear. No matter how clean it is, if it's not yours, you treat it like it's covered in Chalmydia. Not that I know what that is, mom.

I sat Scarly down, prepared to tell him everything I've ever heard about the English language.

He caught me off gaurd and threw down a gigantic book full of quizzes that he had taken to prepare him for the GED, including several he wanted help understanding.

I swear to you, I stumbled upon some kind of conspiracy yesterday. There are people out there who don't want anyone to get their GED. I think the Queen of Colors is behind it. Or The First Eye. But not both at the same time. Those two could never work together.

These quizzes were full of questions asking the test-taker to identify the problem with various sentences that sounded like perfect English to me. Then there were multiple options to choose from that only made the sentence either more nonsensical, or more disturbing.


Sentence: Lohan is a parasite who lives inside Eli's stomach.

A: Change "stomach" to "soul."
B: Reverse the order of the words.
C: Switch the sentence with a picture of Princess Diana's wedding dress.
D: Change all the words to "cat."

Note: The answer to the above question is "true."

Daniel sat on one side of Scarly and I sat on the other and we both took turns saying things like, "well, you just have to read the sentence and listen for the part that doesn't sound right" and the equally unhelpful, "ok, I can see why that answer is right . . . I just don't know how to explain it."

We also took turns mouthing back-and-forth behind Scarly's back, "what should we do?!"

Eventually Scarly packed up his books and said he needed to go. I followed him to the door, asking enthusiastically when he wanted to come back.

He hesitated and then told me that if I really wanted him to, he guessed he could come back next week. Then he added with a tone like he didn't want to hurt my feelings, "maybe next time we should try math instead . . ."

I excitedly agreed. Because guys, I am SO good at math. I have been counting with numbers for practically my whole life.

The moment the door shut behind Scarly, Daniel and I had an argument about whether we should put the pink underwear back into the drier or take it door to door in search of its owner.

It's still sitting in our apartment. I think I'm going to put it on display and name it "Jasmine" if it's still there tomorrow.

~It Just Gets Stranger