One of the tough things about keeping up a site that catalogues the weird little quirks of Japan, is that the longer you live here, the more the weird becomes normal. Living here 5 going on 6 years, I don’t even bat an eye anymore at grandmothers with rainbow-colored hair, old men in dresses, festivals that worship the penis, et al. It’s just…Japan. But on the other hand, the closer I get to Japan being normal, the further I get from my home of America being normal. So now Japanese people can point out things about my homeland that they don’t get, and I can understand where they’re coming from somewhat. I’m not sure if America will ever reach the levels of eyebrow-raising hijinks that Japan does…but not for the lack of trying.
This is not the main thing I want to get at in this post (although it will become relevant later), but many Japanese people wonder why Americans are unable to slurp noodles. I, like most Americans I imagine, was raised on the belief that slurping or otherwise making loud sounds when you eat is fairly rude. When eating ramen, or udon/soba if it actually had a taste, I gradually bring the noodless into my mouth, soundlessly, and then chew on them. This FASCINATES Japanese people, who slurp on noodles like there is no tomorrow. Apparently, you are unable to “fully enjoy the taste of the noodle” unless you slurp it. I’ve asked for some sort of scientific backing of this claim, but have yet to get any. Japanese people have actually requested that I slurp noodles, and I just have the complete inability to do so, which also blows their mind. Its almost like I’ve said “I’m 30 years old and never experienced orgasm”, as if slurping in your noodles instead of chewing them brings your taste buds one step closer to orgasmic joy or something. You may think I’m exaggerating, but go ask the nearest Japanese person about their feelings on slurping noodles and see what happens. You may want to keep a raincoat or plastic tarp handy, just in case.
Which brings me to this; last week, a random Japanese guy asked me a question I honestly couldn’t answer: why do American women in porn make that sucking-in air noise?
You know what I’m talking about. Go fire up an American porn and listen for it. “Oh yeah baby….SUUUUUUU…oh that feels good…SUUUUUU…yeah, right there…SUUUUUUU!”
I don’t know if this sound has always been present in porn and I just never noticed it, or if its a new invention. I’m not sure who decided that women making vacuum-cleaner noises would be sexy in porn…but there are a lot of un-sexy things in porn, it feels kind of pointless to focus on just one.
Anyway, a Japanese guy asked me this, and I simply had no answer for him. He then asked if it was limited to porn; do American women make this sound in real life as well? Unfortunately, I couldn’t answer this question eithers. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve been with a non-Asian woman, and quite frankly I’ve forgotten what its like (*insert some sort of teardrop smiley emoticon here*). This isn’t a result of some crazed Yellow Fever binge – I tried to find foreign women, but couldn’t, or they were just too difficult to deal with.
Anyway, yeah, the sucking-in air noise. I don’t get it. This is something my wife had also noticed when we watched some American porns together. Having been asked about it, I mentioned it casually to her upon coming home. She then hit me with this, and I don’t think I’ve actually stopped laughing since -
“Yeah, that sucking-in air noise! I have a new theory about that. I have a feeling that, during sex, that noise is natural, and this is why Americans can’t slurp ramen or other noodles. If women make the slurping noise, it reminds them too much of what they sound like during sex, so they become embarrased. If guys make the slurping noise, then he’ll sound like a woman having sex, so he can’t do it either. Yeah, I think I figured it out…”
I regained my composure long enough to ask her if the sucking in noise was “natural”, she said – “Well, you know, every race has their own unique noise. For us Japanese women, its crying like babies. For American women, it must be that sucking-in noise. I don’t know about other women though. Hey! Maybe you can go out there and do a survey or something!”
At this point, I asked – “Does this mean I have permission to have sex with girls from multiple nationalities?”
Her reponse – “No! Just find them, and ask them what noises they make during sex.”
Yeah, I’m sure that will be an excellent conversation piece. “Hi! Where are you from? How long have you been in Japan? During sex, do you find your screams of passion to resemble the sound of a 14.4k modem, or the sound you make when eating fried chicken off the bone?”
So my fellow Americans, the next time you go to a ramen/noodle place, do the wonderful sounds of noodle slurping remind you of hot, sweaty sex? If it didn’t before, will it now?
Its these little things that help us to understand our cultures better.