Any of you who follow this (clicky) forum, or have read much of it at all, will know the reference, as the author has several sections labeled “(Japanese…) Say the Darndest Thing”. And I found out today that it’s true.
I recently (read: day before yesterday) joined the jazu-ken, or, the Jazz Club here at school. It’s a bunch of musicians (already feel more at home!) who like to play jazz, and get together in a large group to form smaller jazz ensembles. It was fun joining, though, because I knocked on the door, they open and look at me strangely, like, “Okay… there’s a gaijin at our door…” I asked, “Is this jazz?” which was, of course a stupid question because that’s what it said on the door; but the Japanese are kind of into stupid questions and meaningless talk, so I went with it. They nodded and grunted which, in Japan, means ‘yes’. Then I said, simply, “I can play flute.”
And their eyes lit up, like it was Christmas and they were American (which means they cared that it was Christmas, and nothing more… I dunno, maybe Christmas is a big deal here, too, but likely not for quite the same reasons ^_^). Immediately the group, in beautiful (-ish) Japanese unison, formed a space for me to sit down, and they got out a sign-up sheet. I guess flute’s a big deal in the Jazz Club! ^_^ Which is good for me, ‘cause that’s the only thing I could have a prayer of doing ‘up to the level’ here in Japan. >.<;;
Okay, so today there was a meeting, and they had me introduce myself, short sweet, okay, cool. Any questions? What? You, go ahead.
You: So, what about kanojo (girlfriend)?
Me: (I understood ‘kanojo’, but not what else he said, and I of course didn’t want to answer the wrong question, so I said: ) What?
You: What about your girlfriend?
Me: Haha (forced). I don’t have one.
You: Oh, well there’s lots of girls in here to choose from, so please, feel free!
Me: Heh. Okaaay… >.> <.< (nervous laughter)
So, I guess they are cool with offering their girls to strange gaijin. Well, that’s good to know, I suppose. Or not. Come to think of it, I guess I should have known this already having read mos of the Gaijin Smash archives… But it was still weird when it happens to oneself. And the circumstances were different, so I didn’t recognize it at first.
Then, at lunch (still today, ‘cause y’know, seeing the future is not one of the Gaijin Superpowers) after class I sat with a small group of some of the guys from Jazz Club, and they reaffirmed that I don’t have a girlfriend, and then explained that (I think, based on what I understood of his Japanese and hand gestures) guys and girls in the Jazz Club have a tendency to get together and break up with some marked degree of rapidity, so I should “be careful”. Seriously, he said “be careful”, or ki wo tsukete, which maybe more literally means something like, “take care of yourself,” or, “watch yourself.” So yeah. I suggested that mabe the girls were dangerous (abunai?), which got a laugh before I realized that, oh yeah, that means more like physically dangerous… >.> Hehe… Scott made a funny in Japanese… Hehe…
Anyway, so there’s that. Oh, and at dinner, we were talking about the advertisements on the trains (you know, the ones that hit you in the face if you’re a gaijin and try to walk underneath them), and how they cost something like… let’s see it was 1,000,000 Yen, so… $10,000 for 4 DAYS in the center of the train! At which point, I said (and please believe me when I say there’s a legitimate, non-’wrong’ reason behind my saying this, which I will explain after I state what I said), “Wow, so Playboy must be rich!”
(Playboy has a lot of signs in the trains. I like to read the katakana — foreign word syllabary — advertisements on the train, and caught myself more than once saying in my head something like, “pu-re-i-bo-iohmygosh!!!” >.<)
My host parents laughed, and I explained myself, wanting not to look too ecchi (sexually interested) or anything. They told me that there’s a difference between Playboy in America and Japan. In Japan, apparently, Playboy is much lighter, with swimsuits and such. Oh, okay, that’s interesting. What? You’re not done talking yet?
No, apparently, my host-dad even buys them… Uh, okay… Oh what’s that? My host mom even reads them sometimes? I look at her, surprised, and she nods, smiling, knowingly…
Please, guess how I felt just then. I dare you!
Yeah, so Playboy. Um… right. They said something about the government, maybe regulations on pornography or something? Like I think they’re not allowed to hang adds for pornographic things in trains or something, maybe. I don’t much remember because I was too busy trying not to laugh out loud, because they were saying this very seriously. I um… yeah. It was one of those loud, nervous laughs you have inside like when you just absolutely can’t believe what you’re being told.
I just pray inside myself that my host dad doesn’t go out and buy me a Japanese Playboy now, just to show me the differences. God knows he’s done so for other things in the past that have come up in our conversations… >.<
I can see it now:
“Now, son, here’s what a girl looks like.”
“All girls look like this when they grow up daddy?”
“No, son… These girls are special. Or rich. Very special or very rich.”
“Daddy, I want to marry a girl who looks like this some day!”
“Haha! Okay son! You should work hard to do that. But you’ll have to get a good job to aford a girl like this, so do your homework and become a doctor, and maybe someday you can!”
“You buy these girls?”
“Haha! In a way, I guess you could say that…”
Yeah, I’ve always wanted the birds-and-bees talk in Japanese where I definitely won’t understand what’s being said, but for the help of pictures. Please, God, let there not be pictures! I’d rather not know. >.<
Lastly, there are some truly strange things in this country. There are floors of at least ONE store that I know I will never again venture into. Let’s just say that I saw a lot more trying NOT to look than the average 13-year-old will see online trying TO look, including one dvd case labeled, unabashedly and yet likely accurately, “Grope”. I will not be entering that floor of the building except as necessary to climb or descend the stairs to a different floor with more… my kind of things.