Don’t Get Fat in Japan
I got sick the night of December 30th. I shouldn’t even have to tell you, this is an awful time to get sick. It pretty much ensures that come New Years, the only horn you’re going to be blowing is your own. So yes, I welcomed 2007 hacking up sexy bits of phlegm and fondly remembering back when my nose was more than just a facial decoration.
Getting sick in Japan is usually a bad deal. In America, we can buy wonderful meds over the counter which are as about as potent as Wilt Chamberlain in his prime. Our cold/flu viruses don’t stand a chance. Unfortunately in Japan, over the counter meds pack all the punch of an asthmatic girl scout. You pretty much have to go to the doctor in order to get medicine that will actually do something, and even then it’s medicine made for Japanese people so the cold/flu ends up lingering around longer than it ever should.
Given all my other stellar experiences with Japanese doctors, suffice it to say I didn’t want to go. However, my girlfriend insisted, and with my birthday only two weeks after New Years, I didn’t want to chance the sniffles raining down on my birthday paraade. I bit the bullet and went to the hospital. …Which was actually OK this time around. I got a nice doctor who spoke English – he’d done a fellowship in Maryland or something, and prescribed me medicine. Great.
The problem came when I went back for my checkup. Thanks to the meds, I was feeling better, but still had a nasty cough, and was feeling far more tired than usual. Unfortunately, the nice, English speaking doctor I’d seen the first time wasn’t there. Instead, I got some crusty old dude. I have to stress here that this conversation really actually took place. I mean, I know I say that a lot, but this feels like one of those conversations I’d make up to emphasize a point, except it’s not fiction, it actually did happen.
Doc: So, how are you feeling?
Me: Better, but I still have a terrible cough and am experiencing fatigue.
Doc: I see. Hmm. *checks my file…then pulls out a calculator to do some math* I see you’re a little overweight.
Me: *annoyed* I could probably stand to lose a few kilos, sure, but anyway, about the coughing and fatigue…
Doc: This isn’t good. Have you tried dieting?
Me: *more annoyed* I eat balanced meals and go to the gym 3-4 times a week. Anyway, so my cold/flu…
Doc: *looking at my chest x-ray* …Your heart is too big. Obviously, it’s having to work extra hard to support all your extra weight.
Me: *extremely annoyed* You know, I didn’t have any problems with exhaustion until after I caught this virus…
Doc: At this rate, your life is in danger. The sooner you diet, the longer you may be able to live.
Me: *annoyed to the point where if I were to speak, mothers in the neighborhood would have to cover their children’s ears*
Incidentally, my “fatal obesity” is really just a beer-gut. Which isn’t even that big anymore. But, obviously, these few extra kilos are singlehandedly responsible for the virus I caught, any bones I’ve broken in the past and may break in the future, and the fatal heart attack I’ll suffer at the tender age of 30. I’m sure that, as we speak, Japanese scientists are trying to find a way to link my love handles to global warming, the extinction of the Bali Tiger, and Kim Jong-il’s rise to power.
There’s a new burger at McDonalds in Japan. Not the McWhale or the Filet of Even More Fish as you might anticipate, no. The Mega Mac. They basically just took the volume of the original Big Mac, and doubled it. No joke. Four meat patties.
At first, I thought that this monstrousity was an American creation that someone had foolishy decided to bring over to Japanese shores. But after talking with one of my friends who’d just come back from America, he confirmed that the Mega Mac has yet to invade the West – apparently it’s a Japanese concoction. And this just boggles my mind. As a big American guy, just thinking about the Mega Mac is causing my arteries to clog up a little (more trouble for my overburdened heart I guess…). How the hell is your average Japanese person going to take on the Mega Mac? Any Japanese person who’s been to America makes sure to regale their friends with stories of the massive plates of food they were hit with in restaurants…
Japanese person: Um, hello, excuse me? I’m afraid there’s been a mistake in my order. Surely, you’ve brought me the family plate or something.
Waitress: Nope, that’s for one person.
Japanese person: Sweet mother of all that is holy and pure! How is one person supposed to eat all this food!
Waitress: Actually…waitaminute…there IS a mistake in your order. This is the KIDS plate. I’m sorry, here’s your regular portion…
Japanese person: *head explodes*
So with the Mega Mac, I was kind of thinking that you’d have to have a family of four split it up and eat it over the course of a week (…there’d probably be leftovers too). However, upon my next trip to my local McDonalds I discovered a rather disturbing sign posted on the registers – McDonalds was going to have to put a limit on how many Mega Macs they can serve in one day, because it was far too popular and they were running out of food supplies.
(Insert your favorite “What the shit?”-esque exclamation here.)
And much like everything else in this country, here’s something that just doesn’t add up. Who the hell is eating Mega Macs? Even if every Gaijin suddenly stormed their local Japanese McDonalds that wouldn’t be enough to cause a shortage of supplies. The only possible explanation I can come up with is that Japanese people realized that a burger of that magnitude could quite possibly kill them, and has thus attracted the suicide crowd. At least, that’s the demographic *I* would have gone for it the task of advertising this beast had been assigned to me. “The Mega Mac: Because there are other, less-convienent-to-everybody-else methods of killing yourself besides jumping in front of a train. Supersize your fries and cola to die even faster!”
Also, note on the Japanese McD’s website that you can buy this sucker in a value meal with fries, coke, AND nuggets. Okay, seriously, what in the jumpin’ jehosefat fuck?
A TV program here advertised that a natto diet would produce significant weight loss results. This then resulted on a massive run on natto in all stores, mostly by young women.
For those not in the know, simply put, natto is fermented soybeans. Frankly put, natto is Satan’s most evil creation to date. Seriously, natto is like the worst thing to have ever voluntarily crossed my lips, and that’s taking into account my relationship with my ex. Natto tastes like despair, famine, plague, strife, and constipation all rolled up into sticky bean paste and sold in little styrofoam containers. My girlfriend eats natto, and she actually smiles while doing so and says ridiculous things like “it’s delicious!” Every time she eats natto I just want to break up with her.
Her: You know, it’s really healthy for you.
Me: I don’t care. It could cure cancer. It could make my penis 50 inches longer. It could make me develop Cyclops laser-eyes. The very act of eating it could produce a sensation as if I was getting a blowjob from the non-Beyonce members of Destiny’s Child. I don’t care. It’s nasty, and I can’t handle it.
Her: That’s too bad. It’d be awesome if we could eat natto together…
Me: Yeah. It would also be awesome if you could just punch me in the face, right now. I think I’ll pass on both though.
The TV show which caused the frenzy later announced that they falsified data making the natto diet look more effective than it actually is. Which in turn caused the appropriate Japanese chain reaction of public apologies, higher-ups at the TV station – who probably directly had nothing to with the show – resigning, and anyone connected to the show, including the studio janitors, taking a severe pay cut. Satan’s minions, aka natto manufactuers, also whined about the sudden cancellation of natto orders they’d gotten and the overproduction of natto.
But the “frenzy” only goes to show you just how concerned Japanese people are with their weight. Which is odd, because the vast majority of them don’t need to be. My girlfriend was watching some program on MTV called Girls Meet Beauty. I don’t really understand it well, but the premise was girls who wanted to become more beautiful by going through a program or something. The first step was to lose weight – all the girls wore a two-piece bathing suit, and talked about their goals – how much weight they wanted to lose, how they were going to do it, et al. Now, aside from maybe three or four girls who could afford to lose a kilo or two, the rest of them had absolutely no business being there. About half, I kind of wanted to pin down on the ground and force-feed Mega Mac’s.
But that’s just how it is here. Thin = attractive, and there’s no upper limit on how thin. Take a group of Japanese people to Ethopia and they’ll be like “Wow, so many supermodels!” I was walking with my girlfriend once, and I spotted a woman with toothpick legs. That’s not even an exaggeration, I probably could have wrapped my hand around the fattest part of her thigh, and have my fingers touch with room to spare. Just as I was wondering how her legs didn’t just snap in two with every step she took, my girlfriend hits me with –
Her: Oh wow, look at her! She’s so thin and sexy!
Me: Surely, you can’t be talking about Ms. Rickets up there…
Her: Of course! I wish I could have legs like that. …Huh? What’s that look for? Hey, where are you taking me?
Her: We just ate.
Me: I know.