So, I finally got to do karaoke this evening! That is, the “real” karaoke (if there can be such a thing…). All-in-all I wasn’t too terribly impressed. The room was in Japan (so that means it had crappy air-conditioning), and there were nine of us there for most of it, for two hours. I got three songs. Apparently the Japanese make their songs a lot longer than we do back in the states, because all of my songs were wicked short by comparison, except the Japanese one I tried. (It had some English lyrics I knew, and I knew the chorus in Japanese, so I though, “what the heck”.)
About $10 later, I didn’t really know anybody that much better, though I knew better who could sing well, so that’s something. ^_^ What I picked up I got from listening in on others’ conversations. It’s true, what they say, that Japanese people don’t really talk about important things (“important” things) like we Americans do. Unless they’re talking to me, apparently. I think one of the gaijin super powers has to have something to do with having to wear your heart (and pretty much everything else) on your sleeve for every Japanese person weird enough to talk to you. This is a double-edged blade, though, because most people won’t talk to you ever. It’s a rule: “Don’t talk to strangers… Or others.” So you rarely get asked personal questions; but man when they hit, they hit HARD. I mean, it’s getting pretty crowded out there on my sleeve, let me tell you! ^^;; Today’s topic was a nice grueling in WHY I wouldn’t want to write any stories (because I said I wanted to tell stories for a living, and she asked what kind, and we were discussing this rather benign topic) pertaining to my faith/religion/the Gospel. Well, because it’s too personal. I wouldn’t want to turn that into anyone’s entertainment. And I said that. And then we somehow started talking about whether or not you should feel guilty for buying music like Maroon 5, who sing about rather very un-religious things, and well… I’m pretty sure that the conversation would not have gone that way were I Japanese. This is probably because I would have used my Japanese telepathy to know where the conversation was headed and said the magic password which is (well, I still don’t have that yet), and which tells them telepathically to “not go there” as it were.
All in all, I got to sing a couple nice songs, get nice and sticky in the hot, muggy room, listen to some very good Japanese singing and some very BAD Japanese singing, and go home in the rain after being questioned about a very complicated, personal topic that I can’t well discuss in English, let alone any other language; and all this for $10. Can I… maybe get a little refund or something? I mean, maybe five, or seven… but ten? Isn’t that a bit much?
Well, I did learn some interesting (frightening?) things about raising children in Japan. But to truly get it, you probably have to go back a few years before. See, in dating and relationships, there’s about two kinds (give or take “Japanese”, which is to say, there’s two kinds): Matches Made, and Ren-Ai. The former being anything from blind dates (which could become the latter, I suppose) to o-miai (photo-blind-dating, usually with the intent to marry and have children with someone “good enough”); these relationships are solely about “good enough”. You find someone that works okay, and you both go on to the next step. The latter (ren-ai) means “romantic love”, and that’s basically what it is. You meet, and everything’s either perfect from the get-go or horrible from the get-go and then fate conspires to make you fall madly in love with each other. Anything in between and you’re just friends, and you don’t really want to get married anyway, which means you’re probably not 45 and graying yet.
Okay, so once you’ve married someone (either the love of your life or some guy you think will keep you in the manner to which you’ve become accustomed), you have children. Or a child. You might have two, but that’s kind of pushing it. (The average number of kids per family here is about 1.7. That poor 0.7, though. I feel bad for him… or her. >.>) Once you’ve had kid(s), then whatever was between husband and wife disappears. He goes to work every day, and she becomes slave to the children. Period. She doesn’t give a rat’s ass about him any further than he brings home the money that she uses to buy food to keep her kid(s) fed and doing homework.
Now, when I say “slave”, I don’t mean that she bows to (his/her/their) beck-and-call. No-no. I mean that that’s all she does. Their laundry, their food, planning what school they go to, recording the TV shows she wants them to watch, everything short of chewing their food for them (a suggestion I refuse to make, for fear that my sarcasm would be missed, and she actually might do it. I mean hey, less time spent chewing is more time spent doing homework, right?). So she slaves over them trying to craft their futures to be successful.
Why? Because they need to have good jobs, so that when Mom and Dad are old, the children can take good care of them because they’ll be old and unable to do fun things anymore and take care of themselves. Oh, and they’ll be mean and demanding, like their parents were, and also like they hated their parents for being. It’s a vicious cycle, indeed.
I learned this because my host mom has been sleeping in her children’s room the last few nights, and I asked why, and she explained (I think a bit to the husband’s chagrin) that in America the HUSBAND is a wife’s priority, but in Japan the number one priority is the CHILDREN.
And it’s at times like this that I find myself wondering if I really actually DO want to look for a girlfriend over here. I mean really, if I did marry a Japanese girl and we were in love and all, and then we had kids, is THIS how it would become? Not even sleeping in the same ROOM anymore because she has to make sure her kids sleep comfortably through the night? (The daughter is 9, and I think plenty well able to sleep on her own…)
Ah, well. Tomorrow’s another day, and so another lesson (or twenty) to learn about this country. More posts soon-ish!