Darndest Things Vol. 5
Is that right, volume 5? I dunno, I’ve lost count over the years.
I figure, having lived in this country for almost 5 years now, that I’ve pretty much seen and heard everything. Well, not everything mind you (I don’t live in Tokyo), but I think I’ve had my fair share of knock-you-on-the-floor-WTF moments. From The Greatest Question Ever (“how many women have you raped?”), to Ms. Americanized’s “c’mon America, come bomb the shit out of us”, and even the one time I was greeted by a 14-year old Japanese girl with “Hey nigga!” only to have the Japanese woman standing next to me exclaim “What the fuck?!”, all in English*, I kind of figured there wasn’t much else that could phase me anymore.
Boy, was I wrong.
*I’m still amazed that the universe didn’t collapse into itself upon this incredibly unlikely sequence of events converging upon each other at one specific point in time.
Try to imagine: you’re an Australian guy, you came to Hokkaido, Japan as an English teacher where you worked for two years. Wanting to get out of the English teaching field, and a change of scenery, you manage to find a job in translation in Osaka. Not long after you’ve moved your whole life from the green rolling hills of Hokkaido to the hustle and bustle of Osaka, and left behind the joys and wonders of English teaching* for a desk job, some of the guys at your new workplace take you out for a few drinks. And it doesn’t take very long for the Korean guy to ask you, “Now, exactly how long is your dick?”
I really don’t remember how the conversation got to this point. It could have been anything, really – we could have been talking about Care Bears, the state of the American economy, or The Spanish Inquisition (which nobody expects). All I know is that we ended up on penis size, and the Korean guy, in 100% earnestness, asks the Australian guy “C’mon, how long is your junk?”
If you’ve been reading along, you know that I’m no stranger to conversations about my penis, or someone else’s penis, while in Japan. When I lived in America, the penis was a lot like The Illuminati: something that possesses great power, but only works in the shadows. The penis was never seen or talked about – when there was a use for it, it appeared, did its job, and disappeared back into the mysterious shadows. …This is not the case in Japan. Holy crap is it not. But while I’ve been subject to a lot of penis discussion, most of it has still been laden in innuendo – how monstrously big I must be, and how poor Japanese guys must look small in comparison.
I can honestly say that this is the first time I’ve ever heard someone just flat out ask for a precise measurement.
Not only me and the Australian guy, but the other Japanese guys there as well are floored by the question. The Australian guy does, really, the only thing he can do in this situation – attempt to deflect the question like a skillful politician. “And what about Az? Why aren’t you asking Az this question?” The Korean guy’s answer: “Oh, I already know.”
He’s referring to a snowboarding trip we took a few months ago. The resort we stayed at didn’t have private bathrooms, so we all had to bathe together in the public baths. On the first day I managed to avoid going at the same time as everyone else, but on the second day it was now or never – and given the choice of keeping my naughty bits unseen, or having to endure a 7 hour bus ride while dirty…well, I jumped in the bath. Cleanliness > modesty.
Me: …Aha! I knew it! I knew you’d look.
Korean Guy: Of course I did. When else am I going to get such a fine opportunity?
Australian Guy: …And?
Korean Guy: I thought, yeah, not bad while small, but I couldn’t help but to wonder how big it’d get hard…
Me: THERE WAS NO REASON FOR ME TO GET HARD WHILE BATHING TOGETHER WITH ALL OF YOU.
Korean Guy: Yeah, I know, but still, I had to wonder. I thought about maybe coming over and talking about porn with you, seeing if I couldn’t get a rise out of you.
Me: I repeat: THERE WAS NO REASON FOR ME TO GET HARD WHILE BATHING TOGETHER WITH ALL OF YOU.
Korean Guy: Yeah, yeah, I know. Anyway *back to Australian Guy*, so, how many centimeters long is your dick?
As we try to explain to the Korean guy that this is not really a question that men ask each other, he tells us its quite common in Korea – in fact, according to him at least, when guy friends want to cement their bond, they go to a public bath together and size each other up.
…We all agreed that Korea was going to be dead last on our list of “Countries To Visit Next.”
One day out of the blue, Small Wonder turns to me and the Australian guy and asks “What does ‘7th Heaven’ mean?”
…A cheesy show on the WB that has somehow eluded the cancellation hook?
All jokes aside, we tried to explain that it meant something really good, like how eating a slice of New York cheesecake might put you in 7th Heaven or something. Small Wonder asks us if its a common phrase. We tell her no, we don’t really use it that often.
“Oh,” she says, “so I guess I can’t really use “take her to 7th heaven with your new monster tool!” in any English conversations, can I?”
…For the love of God, PLEASE stop trying to pick up colloquial English from spam email titles. No good can ever come from this.
There’s a new Japanese lady at work. She speaks English quite well – she’s married to an Australian guy (not the same guy from above), and had spent several years on study abroad in America and in Australia with her husband before coming back to Japan. She tells me that she’d stayed in the good ‘ol south while in America, and even had a southern accent to boot! She no longer has the southern accent, but I really wish she did, as nothing would round out my experience in Japan better than a Japanese woman speaking in a country drawl.
Anyway, one day I was talking to her about all the various things I have to do around the house. As we’re both working, my wife expects me to pull in my share of the housework. If she cooks, I have to do the dishes. And I have to remember to properly do the laundry before it starts to pile up. Things I may drag my feet about…but no matter how much I want to argue about it, ultimately she’s right so the only thing I can do is just suck it up and do it.
So as I was explaining this, this Japanese woman stops for a minute and says “Oh, waitaminute, you’re…you’re…oh, I know this word….you’re pussywhipped!” When her outburst reduced me to a laughing mess on the ground, she fretted “oh, I’ve been picking up too much bad language from my husband…”
Now, when a Japanese woman tells you, in English no less, that you’re pussywhipped…I think that’s sort of a code red emergency. I feel like I need to round up 299 of my fellow countrymen and defend the ideals of freedom and justice in a fight to the death against 1 million Persian soldiers. While I wear nothing more than a cape, a helmet, and some speedos. Nothing less will allow me to reclaim my manhood.
One day, Doris and the Japanese lady mentioned above were processing refunds. The Japanese woman was marvelling over some type of bra with gel pads designed for extra lift and roundness and…whatever it is that bra pads do. My knowledge about bras is limited to how to take them off with one hand. While translating and processing the item data, we’d come across the description for the “super gel pads” or whatever, so the Japanese woman was thrilled to get to see a real live one. As I’d done the translation for this particular product, I was a bit curious, so I turned around to also get a look at it.
“Here you go,” Doris says, handing me one of the gel pads. “You just wanted to touch some gel titty, didn’t you?” she says. I tell her that wasn’t my intent, but her answer to that is “No no, it’s okay – you’ve been in Japan for awhile now, haven’t you? I can imagine you’re pretty titty-deprived.” She turns to the Australian guy who sits next to me. “C’mon, you can touch the gel titties too!” The Australian guy, who is ordinarily pretty reserved, refuses the offer, but Doris literally throws the gel pad into his hand. “C’mon, you’re a guy, don’t be modest! You can be honest about wanting to grope a little titty. It’s okay.”
As the Australian guy continues to deny wanting to cop a feel on a bra pad, Doris begins another one of her epic dialogues. Pointing to me and the Australian guy, she says “See, you guys probably know nothing about bra pads. You both come from countries where the women have ample bosoms and don’t need these kinds of things. But see, we Asians aren’t that blessed – we NEED these. Without these, we just look like flat-chested little boys. But hey, with these bra pads, maybe we can almost start to look feminine! Oh, if only I’d been born in America! Then I could join you two in being amazed over bra pads, and not secretly thinking of all the padded bras I have at home!”
You know, if I ever do put Operation D-Cup into motion someday, I think I’ve found a passionate and committed general to help spearhead the cause.
Speaking of, I got Doris to repeat her “Asians are flat” rant. The Japanese lady asked Doris to tell her a funny joke…Doris then defaulted to me, and then I once again pulled out the nearest catalog, and pointed out how all of the regular clothes models were Japanese, but then when it came to underwear models, they all suddenly became Gaijin. Doris repeats her “Asians are flat!” rant, which the Australian guy and Japanese woman had never heard before, and thus were floored laughing.
“Unfortunately,” Doris says, “this isn’t a joke. This is reality. Look at this,” she says, pointing to a rare page that featured a Japanese underwear model. “You don’t think – oh, sexy beautiful woman! No. This makes me think of that little strip of highway that airplanes land on.”
“You mean a runway?” I manage to blurt out between laughs.
“Oh, is that what its called? Yeah, a runway! See, look! *flips to a page with foreign models* Beautiful, sexy, curvy women. *flips to the page with the Japanese model* Japan airlines flight 22, now landing on runway 6. Just straight and flat.”
I’m starting to think she has a bit of a complex about this.