Saturday, May 18, 2013

Ignorance Truly is Bliss

The following jacket photo was posted on Facebook by the friend of a friend about an hour ago.

One of the comments just cracked me up:  "If at the bottom it said, 'I love waffles', I would wear this shirt."

I think the bottom gather should say " running!"

Friday, May 10, 2013

Gaijin Gravity

There is a phenomenon here which drives me crazy. I mean absolutely batshit, bouncing off the wall bonkers. And it happened to me again today.

A friend and I talked about this just a few weeks after we got here, and we couldn't decide if it is a cultural thing, or just a result of this being such a crowded country.

Let's call it "Gaijin Gravity", AKA "the Suck Zone" or simply "the Vortex". It doesn't matter where you walk, on the left, on the right, in the middle, or hugging the wall, people walking opposite you will ALWAYS gravitate toward you. They get closer and closer, pretending they can't see the wall of flesh that is your fat American ass approaching them, yet moving into your path. I've actually had people come from the opposite side of the shopping arcade just to stop right in front of me with a look of surprise, like "Why are you blocking me?" Then you end up doing the dance macabre, jigging left and right, trying to find a way around each other, while they match you move for move.  Of course, if you stop, you'll both bow in apology and bonk heads like the 3 Stooges. "I'm sorry.  Ouch!  I'm sorry.  Ouch!  I'm sor...."

If I wore fly paper for a jacket, I'd be covered in little, bowing Mr Bill's.

"Oh, no-o-o-o!"

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

"Pro-Choice" of another kind

There is a quote in "Silverado" which really fits life overseas: "The world is what you make of it, friend."

When you live overseas, this is so apropos. "Things" happen. People say stupid things, do stupid things. Cultural differences will aggravate you. I have posted several times on this theme, so I won't kick a dead horse here (how did that idiom come about, anyways? Who's dumb enough to do that? Now you're pissed, and look like an idiot hopping around in circles like a three-legged rabbit, to boot).

But making one choice will influence your whole experience. To be, or not to be, that truly is the question. Do you become offended, or not? I'm not talking about the big things like actual prejudice or refusal to rent you an apartment, but the daily grind.

At first, I was offended. I ranted and raved, bitched and moaned. And overall, I had fun my first year here (it's fun to bitch and moan!) but certainly didn't intend to stay any longer. Then my future wife showed me that many things I was pissed off by were actually intended in a different way entirely, but since I was expecting to be offended, I saw them as offensive things.

The lady at the bank called me "Gaijin-sama". Oh, monkey-crap, someone has called me gaijin?! Well, to say "Hey, you!" is a lot less polite. Someone asking if I can write kanji characters isn't really intended to be impolite. Since so many foreigners, Americans especially, never learn the kanji, it's a natural question intended to lead into an offer to help you if you can't write the language. I've seen a lot of westerners who can't use chopsticks, just end up sticking them into the food like mini daggers. So the server brings a fork without asking if you need it? So what? Just don't use it.

Next time you travel, think about your choice.

People who don't learn this choice inevitably go home disappointed (or leave me disappointed that they don't go home...).