“Nothing too hard. Just hand jobs,” said Roka, an older Iranian student whose designer wardrobe was as rich as her accent. “Is good for to keep me busy. I practice English.”
“Uh, actually, you don’t want to call what you’re doing a hand job,” Trina quickly replied.
“No? But is job with hands. I put shoes out and purses, and I only use hands,” The fifty-something siren waved her bejeweled hands in the air. “No brain work.”
“Yes, but we don’t want to say hand job. That, uh, has another meaning.”
Gazing around the sterile, white room at her mixed assortment of students, Trina Stewart contemplated explaining the meaning of masturbation to them. An uncomfortable situation to be in, certainly, but one would be surprised at how often she had to face this kind of decision at work.
Teaching English as a Second Language was not exactly what she’d envisioned doing when she first arrived in Los Angeles nearly a decade ago. Nor when she’d enrolled in one of the nation’s best film schools. But ten years in Tinsel Town, and she was no closer to her dream job now than the moment she’d first laid eyes on the famed Hollywood sign.
That freaking sign. God, how it irritated her. It just sat there, day in and day out, clinging to the mountainside, taunting her, mocking her and her Hollywood dreams. She was starting to hate that damned sign and the way it glared at her whenever she looked at it. Reminding her of just how terribly unsuccessful she still was. Lately she’d been entertaining some not so savory plans for that sign. Plans that included a blowtorch, spray paint, and a wrecking ball. If she could just get rid of that friggin’ thing once and for all, maybe she would even find a job. A proper Hollywood job. And considering she’d just graduated from a prestigious film school with a Master of Fine Arts, no less, one would think it not such an insurmountable task.
“What kind of job is hand job?” Roka asked, and Trina’s mind slammed back to the task at hand.
“Okay. Well, it’s not actually a job. It’s a sort of sexual activity.”
“Ooh. What kind of activity?” Roka’s eyes lit up, and she pulled out her notebook.
“A hand job is slang for, uh, well, when you use your hand to, you know.”
Roka leaned forward in her chair, and, Trina noticed, so did her other students. Eagerly anticipating the explanation, they sat perched on the edge of their seats, eyes fixed on Trina. Roka was not a timid woman, so Trina wasn’t worried about offending her. But the rest of the class was made up mainly of young Asian girls whose traditional parents may not have appreciated the kind of education Trina was providing them.
“Yes? What do I do with my hand?” Roka pried.
“You grab, er, stroke –”
“What is stroke?”
“All right. I’m just going to show you.” She made what she believed was the international symbol for jerking off.
Roka screwed up her brows. “Gamble? You throw dice?”
Apparently, it wasn’t as widely known as Trina had thought.
Trina jumped up from her chair and wrote it on the whiteboard in huge black letters. Roka dived into her electronic dictionary, frantically clicking in the letters just as Kyoko, Trina’s sixty-year-old Japanese boss walked in with a teenage Japanese girl hooked to her arm.
“We have new student, Trina. What are you teaching today?” Kyoko glanced at the board. “Mas-tur-ba-tion. What is that?” Kyoko may have run an ESL school, but she was hardly fluent herself.
“Oh, hand job!” laughed Roka heartily, the remainder of the class tapping away at their keys.
Instantly, Trina turned her attention toward the new student, “masturbation” still hanging on the whiteboard behind her and a fine blush coloring her cheeks. “Who’s this?”
“This is Naoko. Her parents are getting divorced and she is here until they can decide where she will live, but she has upset stomach.” Kyoko raised her hand to her mouth and whispered, “Diarrhea.”
Trina smiled at the poor girl. Kyoko had a penchant for giving out too much information.
“I told her to drink some green tea, but she is afraid it will make her go diarrhea again,” Kyoko confided.
She also gave advice, usually involving the healing powers of green tea or some sort of ancient Japanese concoction.
“I leave her with you. You teach her about mas-tur-ba-tion. Okay?”
Kyoko departed swiftly, leaving Naoko standing in the middle of the room. Trina pulled out a plastic chair and invited her to join the rest of the students at the table. Her downcast eyes revealed a world of information to Trina. She was like all the other Japanese girls who came to her class. Timid, scared, lonely, and desperate. And dumped in a city halfway around the world from all her friends and family.
Trina knew exactly how she felt.