15 May 2009 ~ 9 Comments

Things I love / hate about Japan: Alone again, naturally! Part 2

The two cuties, freshman Office Ladies by the look of them (black skirt, black jacket, black stockings black pumps and  white blouses) dropped their bags on the two seats at the table beside mine. Simultaneously, they glanced my way, shrugged and proceeded into the shop to place their orders. I was reading “Without Remorse” (one of my favorite Clancy books,) and checking this out peripherally. I didn’t dare look directly at them. I don’t like to look at Japanese people, to be honest. Despite my best effort at ignoring them,  their behavior can sometimes ruin the sunniest day, the best stogie, the tastiest coffee, or the happiest mood. So, I endeavor to only look at  Japanese people I know (Imagine the difficulty of that!) But, like a child pulling the wings off of flies, dropping lit firecrackers in ant colonies or killing cockroaches with a can of Raid and a lit match, sometimes I can’t help but torture, even if the subject is myself.

They emerged from within a few minutes later with frosty chocolaty drinks and took their seats beside me. I glanced up from my book and as our eyes met I saw neither fear or pleasure at my presence…it was indifference. I was surprised but hid it. It is rare here. Japanese people either are enamored with me, or terrified, or uncomfortable…but indifference? Plus they had the decency to sit beside me. (Decency is one of a few dozen words I’ve had to re-define since I’ve moved here.) Yep, they were just as nonchalant as they wanted to be, relaxed and enjoying the fine weather and…good conversation.

That’s when I realized what I’d missed.

The people seated at the other tables’ reactions to the fact that these two girls had the audacity, the bravado, to not only sit beside me but leave their belongings behind, as they would have done if I had been Japanese, had been mixed, ranging from shock to dismay. I can’t imagine why (-;  Most had probably presumed what I would find out once the girls had returned to the table as the first words crossed their lips: though Asian and clearly acclimated to Japanese culture as much as any Asians born elsewhere can acclimate, they were not Japanese.

In fact, they were Chinese.

I love Chinese people! They ain’t afraid of shit! They’d sooner spit on you than run from you. I like that spirit. Don’t take no shit from no one! I glanced at them and gave them a little nod/smile.  They went through the motions of being shy, the way Japanese do, brushing the hair out of their faces and casting their eyes down, but I could see it was an act. They’d been in Japan a while…long enough to study Japanese behavior and mock it for assimilation purposes, but it was not in their hearts. They were as shy as Lucy Liu in “Kill Bill”.

They occupied the table on my left, while the table on my right remained free, until suddenly…

“Loco Sensei!”

I looked up. It was two of my third year students. One of them was Ms. Lacy Pink panties who wants to spend her summer hours thinking about moi.

“Hi!” I waved and smiled, and tried to return to reading my book quickly to indicate I didn’t want to be disturbed. The problem with patronizing cafes in the vicinity of my job is that sometimes you run into students. Usually they ignore me or avoid me if they see me after hours. But if, like this one, they have some kind of crush, or infatuation with English, or just adore me for any number of reasons (-;  well then…

They came and sat at the table beside mine, the remaining available one…”What do you read?” She asked me, eyes sparkling, clearly unconcerned with the book…reading me. I got a little uncomfortable. I glanced around…all heads turned away in sync with mine like we were all sprockets on the same gear, which meant they were all watching me.

“A book,” I said, trying to keep it English and keep it simple. “A very good book!”

“Loco Sensei, do you have a girlfriend?” She said, changing the subject, or rather bringing the subject around to what was in her mind from jump. Her name is Mami. Her friend’s name is Naoko. Naoko was very uncomfortable. I felt sorry for her.

“Kankei nai darou!” (None of your business!) I said, but not sharply.  She withdrew a bit, not expecting the Japanese. Usually I avoid using Japanese. Language is power and despite my improving Japanese ability my power still resides in English.

Naoko stood up, bowed,  and said, “shitsurei shimashita,” sensing that they had indeed disturbed me. Mami didn’t. She wasn’t phased by my retort. But, when she glanced at Naoko and saw that she was ready to go, she stood up and said, “Loco sensei, dewa, mata ne!” And as she stepped away I could see her tensing up. She turned and blurted out loud, “I love you!!!” Then they turned and I watched the two of them hand-in-hand skip away. The two Chinese cuties beside me were watching too. I smiled at them again.

One said, “You are English teacher?”

“Yes!”

“I want to learn English but I don’t have a chance…”

“Me too!” her friend said.

” You want to take English lessons?” I asked, wondering whether it was money or something else being offered.

“Maybe just be friends…” she said with a sly smile.

Not money…

By the time they left I had both of their email addresses…and tentative plans to go to hanabi (fireworks festivals) come summer. They walked away smiling and sashaying and waving back at me…trying very hard to look like Japanese girls. I kinda felt sorry for them. Assimilation is a bitch!

And then, with my two-table perimeter, and my Clancy novel, and my Black & Mild Cigars, and my overpriced coffee, I was alone again, naturally.

Loco

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9 Responses to “Things I love / hate about Japan: Alone again, naturally! Part 2”

  1. jaredinnakano 16 May 2009 at 1:06 am Permalink

    You’re back! Breaking hearts again. Just watch out for the jail bait, ok?

  2. LostXcausE 17 May 2009 at 8:46 am Permalink

    Hmm. Interesting things have transpired loco-sama. Must be a pain for almost every girl to go ” You speak English?” or ” Will you please teach me?”.

    As far as Chinese people, yeah they’re cool. Not like some of the Japanese out there. There are some good people from Laos too. My friend is from there (she’s a good girl save for the moaning under her breath when I tap her on the shoulder…..don’t get that)

    You can keep your Japanese on’na. I’ll stick with my Vietnamese chick forever. Lolz

    Keep it coming Loco, nice work so far.

  3. jusuo 17 May 2009 at 7:32 pm Permalink

    jail bait for the win! :D

  4. XO 19 May 2009 at 11:30 am Permalink

    "the best stogie"≠ Black and Mild

    just sayin…

  5. Alphonse 19 May 2009 at 1:51 pm Permalink

    Chinese girls are the best in asia , i spend 1 year in china and they are awesome and when i went to japan the only friends i could make were chinese ..try it …

  6. Rory Jones 20 May 2009 at 1:50 am Permalink

    Loco:

    Wassssup, my brother? I am an attorney, originally from New Orleans, but in the past it was my pleasure to have spent time in Japan. I “introduced” Black entrepreneurs to Asian markets. I had an “in” through JETRO in Akasaka. I eventually ended up with my own business opportunity in Asia and began the invariable “one foot in each hemisphere” existence. My business was in zero-emissions vehicles (wheelchairs, scooters, golf carts, etc.) My plant was in Korea, my market here in the States. Due to a very unfortuante set of circumstances, I ended up washed away by the waters of Katrina while one foot was in New Orleans. Consequently, I am in the process of re-establishing my business again in Asia. That means I’m trying to hook a few new investors. I happened to stumble onto your essay and was instantly reminded of the looks and uneasiness that a brother can experience in Japan and found myself both amused and homesick for Japan. Just wated to drop you a note and thank you for your little “slice of life in Japan” vignette. Please alert me upon your next postings. Thanks again.

    Rory Jones
    THE Taipan

  7. XYD 25 May 2009 at 4:35 am Permalink

    Ya know, if you were in an area that allows smoking, I really do not see the reason for the couple to leave if they were in the smoking zone. Unless you were the only one smoking at the time I maybe can see why they left. But come on, sitting down on a smoking zone and complaining about the smoke? It is like complaining about how quiet a library is and at the same time the person who is complaining is being loud.

    Your students seem to really like you though. Which is something that I seem to take a liking to about Japan. Maybe because they are obviously interested in English. But aside from that, their homeroom teachers just seem to be a lot more involved with the students than the American counterpart (I mean once a week for only 45 minutes.)

    Side note: Intriguing to say the least. Do you know that Chinese women are more likely to get into interracial relationship than Chinese men?

  8. Aka Gaijin 28 May 2009 at 3:58 am Permalink

    Chiku shou! Japanese, Chinese, Korean, or American… any time a lady talks to me, it takes me about an hour to realize the opportunity that I missed.

    Meh… ganbatte loco!


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