Gaijin Perimeter, Revisited
I was on a train with one of my friends and my girlfriend. I’m the first Gaijin Boyfriend she’s ever had, so for her dating me has been a real experience to say the least. It’s exposed her to a side of Japan she just never knew. …And doesn’t particularly like. The poor girl though, she’s tried so hard to stay optimistic about even the stupidest of things.
So anyway, me, her, and my friend were on a train coming home from Kyoto. My friend took the opportunity to point out the Gaijin Perimeter to her. I was sitting on a bench with my girlfriend to my left, but no one had sat down in the empty space to my right. My friend was on the bench opposite us – there was someone sitting to his right (they had been sitting there when he sat down) but no one had sit down in the empty space to his left.
Him: You see, this is what we call the “Gaijin Perimeter”. Notice how nobody is sitting next to me or your boyfriend.
Her: Yeah, but…it’s not a bad thing! Maybe they’re just tired and want to stand?
Him: Okay, think about it for a second. When have you ever seen a Japanese person not fight, almost to the death even, over an empty seat on the train?
Her: (Looks at me)
Me: Well, he’s got a point.
Her: (To my friend and me) I’m so, so sorry.
Us: We’re used to it by now.
Anyway, someone eventually does sit in the empty seat next to my friend, a young girl.
Her: Hey! See! Someone sat there!
Me: Yeah, but she also looks like she’s in fear of her mortal life. Her ass is barely touching the seat.
Him: Right. Cause I’m such a Big, Scary Gaijin (he’s a skinny white dude)
Her: She does look awfully uncomfortable…(to her) Hey! He’s not scary! He’s nice!
Him: That’s only going to make them look at us more.
Incidentally, no one did ever sit in the empty seat next to me.
We had to change trains anyway after ten minutes. We lined up as the next train rolled in, and I noticed that the train car seemed awfully empty. My girlfriend rejoiced – we would be able to sit down! I however knew there was something fishy – an empty train car on the last train out of Kyoto on a Saturday night? Something wasn’t right. The doors opened, my girlfriend rushed in, and her immediate gag reaction and recoil in horror confirmed my suspicions – someone had puked all over one of the train benches and the floor in this train car.
It was pretty nasty – we moved further down the train car. I wanted to change train cars entirely, but as there were more people packed in this end (no doubt running from the puke) it became harder to move about. We finally stopped maybe half a train car away from the scene of the crime.
Maybe a few minutes out of the station, I noticed something interesting/disturbing…
Me: Now, how does this work? We’re on a train car full of puke…and people are STILL staring at us!
Her: Well, maybe they just don’t want to look at the puke.
Him: So they choose to look at us instead? That’s comforting.
In particular, there were two young women in front of us that just kept GLARING at me and my gf. We were trying to figure out if it was a vicious “leave our women alone!” glare, or one of intense burning jealousy.
Although, it was insanely interesting to watch people at the next station get on the train and head for the empty bench only to be replused as they found it covered in vomit. One dude though, assessed the situation and deciding that since the vomit was primarily located on the center of the bench, he could safely sit down on the corner of the bench, which he did. It was at this time that I noticed that although the bench with the vomit on it was fairly empty (save the one guy sitting down on the corner), the bench across from the vomit was full to capacity with six adults sitting on it. …Keep in mind that the vomit isn’t just on the bench, but on the floor as well. Meaning no one sitting on that bench across could stretch out their legs without ruining their shoes.
A few minutes later, my friend’s spirits hit an incredible low. We ask him why, and he says one of the most prolific things I’ve heard to date.
Him: This really goes to show you our (Gaijin) place in Japanese society, doesn’t it? Japanese people will sit across from nasty vomit, but no one will dare to sit next to me.
It’s sad/hilarious because it’s true.
He said this in Japanese as well (so that my gf would understand), and it was really funny, cause all the people who were staring at us suddenly stopped. Except for the two women in front who either wanted to lynch me, or lynch my girlfriend and get aboard the Chocolate Gaijin Love Train. We never did figure out which one.
Meanwhile, on the Vomit Bench, one dude is pointing at it and trying to analyize the contents – what the vomiter ate, at approximately when did they vomit, which liquor was the cause, etc. The girl next to Mr. Analyizer pulls out her cell phone and takes a picture. …Of the puke. I shit you not.
But I guess it’s good to know that we Gaijin are slightly more appalling than a puddle of liquor-induced vomit. Gaijin Gross-Out, perhaps?