If you look closely, you can see a broken cash register in the grass…one of Edinburgh’s many hidden gems.Read More
I’ve gotten more sleep than I have in a long time and I still feel a bit shattered. I have no food in thee house as I have given up on cooking at home a few days ago. I am proud of myself for managing to cook a handful of meals but I just can't be bothered anymore.
I spot a review on a poster that is from a site that is infamous for giving five star reviews if you pay for them. This poor bastard only got four from them so it must be a terrible show. How anyone that has done the festival before doesn't know what utter contempt this particular “reviewer” is held in is beyond me. It suggests they need better friends.
The Scotsman newspaper, junk food and tote used to be unavoidable at every corner. Now they are like four-leaf clovers only available before 10:00am at the top of Arthur’s Seat. One of the guys I do the compilation show with pick one up for me and I devour the junk food at the bottom as my breakfast minutes before I go onstage at Funny Cluckers.
Ian Fox and I have a leisurely lunch and chat about show posters on the Grassmarket at a restaurant know not to be a tourist trap, meaning it is crawling with other performers at the Fringe. An American improv group with no invitation or attempt at engagement, places their flyers with a four-star review from a reputable source in front of us and every one else in the restaurant. I say loud enough for them to hear, “ It’s so nice when people let you know which show to avoid at all costs.” I get it. Doing a show at the Fringe can make people forget how to interact with human beings but I refuse to reward the perfect storm of cuntyness it creates.
One of my best friends from Japan, Anisa, comes to the show tonight and we have the perfect number of people in the room to make it as comfortable as possible while still giving people the anonymity needed to enjoy dark humor. I have added a few jokes to the show to keep it interesting for me. The anticipation created when adding something new and the possibly it may not work gives an otherwise memorized show a bit more of an adventurous feel, at least from my point of view. The gamble pays off.
There has been a drop out at the show SPANK and I’ve been asked to fill in. I love this show so much. It is the perfect blend of irreverence and fun. The act on before me was a little low energy and so when I went on stage, for whatever reason, a small number of people expected more of the same and booed me. I always enjoy an opportunity to flip off an audience and I did it well. I eventually won the doubters over, even the woman that was upset I made fun of Wales. Besides, if the Welsh don’t want me to make fun of them, they should get better internet. I never said anything about their third eye or six toes. I don't have any idea why she was so upset.
I make plans to go with Anisa’s friend to a Disney party tonight. I have no idea what to expect.
You know you are in Edinburgh when you decide to go to the gym to give your legs a break. I am walking about 8 miles a day everyday an had grand plans to go to the massive commonwealth pool for a swim but decided not to as I was still drying out from the all-day downpour from the day before. I will make it to the pool before the end of the festival. I miss swimming so much and hear they have a diving board, awesome sauce.
There seems to be a fresh batch of people at the Fringe today. I did a quick spot at Funny Cluckers and the audience seemed happy rested and on their 3rd Corona around 3:00 in the afternoon. Ian Fox fixes my card reader which has refused to work throughout the festival. Grrrr but it’s fine now.
Ian and I have lunch at Mosque Kitchen with Dave Turquoise, one of my favorite people to bump into on the comedy scene. Within seconds we are roasting each other like children on a playground. Nothing at the Fringe has made me laugh as hard as him making fun of the way I eat curry.
My show is full on a Monday night and I am pleasantly surprised at how much fun people were having. Mondays are usually notorious for being difficult during the Fringe. Aside from having to stop the show for a second to give a woman in the front row a block of ice to eat like an ice cream sandwich to keep her from succumbing to the heat, it felt like a Friday night show.
The room isn’t quite as hot as it has been. I know this because my hair is still curly at the end of the show. Last week my hair would go from little orphan Annie curly to ramrod straight after 20 minutes. ( I know this because that is what an audience member told me as she put money in my bucket) Then the barman at my venue told me Scotland’s heatwave has finally ended. Of course! It all makes so much sense now. It never occurred to me that 25 degrees in August anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere would be considered a “heat wave”. If it continues to be as cool as it has been for the last two days, I think my room may just be tolerable. Yay! Happy dance!
Tonight is the first time my bucket speech doesn’t sound like an apology and I pat myself on the back for finally growing a pair.
With my backpack full of wet hiker towels and hand fans, I brave the industry bar with my day of good fortune. There was some sort of festival recruiting going on for a festival in Ireland. Thank god I’ve run into a friend that feels equally out of place at these things and we manage to hold our own. I get to say “ Hello” to people I wouldn’t have had the guts to do on my own and my friend knows how hard it was for me. There us a a brief moment when I am sure someone thinks my name is “Spree” ( Starbucks Baristas often write that on my cup) I then realize it was just his accent and in a noisy environment like that with so many accents going on I can’t code switch fast enough to catch everything people are saying. Me and my friend have a lovely time, high five each other for being fully functioning social people for one night and go home before comedians turn into pumpkins at 3:00am.
This daily blog will not be checked for punctuation or spelling, just like Chortle.
I stay in the flat as long as I possibly can and get out the door at 2:15. My room smells musty as I have done the laundry and have hung clothes on every available surface that is not nice furniture, as the landlady requested. Not realizing this whole time there is a drying rack in the hallway closet. The ladylady suggests I use it as the musty smell has wafted into the hallway a bit.
How was I supposed to know it was in the hall closet? I don’t go through people’s hallway closets, who knows what kind of weird shit I’d find in there. If I found bodies in there my first thought would be, “I don’t want to move mid-festival. I’ve got enough to worry about.”
There are new people in the flat, a mother and daughter doing a children’s show. They are amazed I do a show every night at 9:05. When I tell them I am doing another show at one in the morning, their jaw drops. I really hope they don’t come to my show.
Being a Saturday night, the crowds are just as I suspect, more tired than Friday as they are still recovering from Friday night shenanigans. The energy is more frazzled and attention spans are as short as can be. I warn my audience as it fills up that it is going to get hellishly hot as I pass around towels and fans. Three women stand at the door who want to be in the room simply because it is full. I ask them to leave, saying I am doing them a favor and they are slow on the uptake. It was a great show although 4 had to leave mid-show as they were just about to faint. Them leaving gave everyone else a bit more breathing room and energy. A couple of the punters said they came to the show because they were told it was a claustrophobically dark comedy show. I think that is a great way to describe the experience. The show in that room is like someone made an escape room out of an Auschwitz oven.
I do a spot at SPANK for the first time tonight. It’s a late night comedy show that is just silly fun. In the middle, a comedian or anyone that wants to promote something will get a minute on stage to promote it if they get naked. Tonight, I do not get naked but a rather sweet punter did on stage just to tell the audience how much he loved his partner. It was very sweet. There is also a lovely guy doing a show at the same venue space at an earlier time called “How Karaoke Changed My Life” and he gets a shoutout without having to getting naked because everyone loves him so much. I want to go to this show because apparently he just sings whatever song the audience wants to sing with them. It’s too bad the show isn’t called “Karaoke Without Cunts.” I hope he can get more people into his show.
On my way back home, a very drunk man asks me if I sell weed because I happened to be hunched over trying to zip my messenger bag closed in the rain. I unfortunately do not sell weed and tell him so. I wish I did, then I could afford to do the festival properly.
I call my boyfriend and in my drunk on three beers, two-octave higher than usual voice tell him I love him and stumble home at 2:30am.
This daily blog will not be checked for punctuation or spelling, just like Chortle.
I am up and out of the house by 9:30am in the summer rain rushing to get to the recording to “Anything but Coldplay” radio show at BBC’s Fringe Central. It is fun and reminds me of how little music I listen to anymore. Tina Turner Tea Lady is a guest and a festival staple, quintessential British character comedy. I love acts like that. I know being a foreigner, I’ll never totally get all of the references but I enjoy reaching for them. It’s like mentally reaching for a cookie on the top shelf, once you get it, you feel like you’ve earned it.
I’m guest spotting on a total of three shows today. The under twenty-fives seem to be out in full force, probably because school starts up next week. I do a spot at a show where everyone is supposed to do their most offensive material. This is tricky as “offensive” is a broad term. Am I supposed to do material with offensive language, have an offensive point of view or just offend everyone? I am not sure so I do all three. The weird thing about the set is I do a few jokes that are not offensive during my set just to cleanse the palate, like a sip of water between box wine tastings and I can sense people thinking, “Wait, that’s not offensive. She’s cheating.” It is a fun but weird vibe to the show.
I then go home for a much needed sumo nap. A sumo nap is when you take a nap after a meal. It’s part of a sumo’s training and helps them gain weight. I feel like a million bucks when I wake up and decide I have enough energy to flyer. I genuinely enjoy it now. I think I am good at pitching the show now and don’t feel rejected when people don’t want a flyer or the show just isn’t for them. I ask a group of three women if they have a dark sense of humor. “Absolutely not.” They say. “ You all must be very healthy then. Carry on..” I reply and we all have a good laugh. If you play it right, even rejection is fun.
We have a full house and they are sort of excited by the idea of being in a completely inappropriate room for comedy or breathing. I chuck hiker’s towels at them as well as hand fans and ice throughout the show. I cut out anything that requires a second or more of concentration or is Edinburgh fringy because this is a club crowd. A woman in the front is clearly on something other than alcohol but is a great sport and well-behaved. Having parents that did a lot of drugs in their day has taught me how to handle these sensitive souls.
Afterwards, I guest spot on Imaginary Porno Charades and discover I am actually pretty good at the charming and getting better at staying in the moment for the guessing. Because I spent so much time in Japan, I get “bukkake” within seconds to the shocked delight of the audience but my team fails to guess “the Bukkake Kid “ and guesses “The Bukkake Baby “ instead which starts a fight as to which is more wrong, a baby or a kid. My team captain argues a baby is better because they cannot remember anything. I say that is how it starts but I am not an authority. Somebody should ask Epstein, he would know better. I mention to my boyfriend later on, “You know, bukkake just sort of rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?”
This daily blog will not be checked for punctuation or spelling, just like Chortle.
I don’t know why I contemplated joining a steam room with some other performers when it turns out I am performing in a sauna every night.
Every comedian complains about how chilly Scotland is in August and how roasting it is in the venues. It is often uncomfortably hot but my room is ridiculous this year. Everyone who went in to the show with curly hair came out with damp straight hair. The only ones not fazed by the heat were the Scottish punters that could somehow pretend they were on a tropical island that smelled like a cave people dance in.
I am happy that everyone in the audience is facing in the right direction. I’ve learned you need punters not to be able to look at other punters faces when watching dark comedy or they will start to wonder what other people think of them. That said, my room is too hot to think in. I am rushing the show every so slightly in order to distract them from how hot it is. In a way I feel like a child in the back seat of the car desperately trying to entertain the family on the summer vacation drive across the US in a car with no air conditioning and the windows rolled up and oxygen becomes less and less available. I thought one punter hated it but it turns out he was just trying not to faint. I am working on a solution.
A lovely couple from Nottingham that had seen me at the Glee Club few weeks ago came as well as a punter with a massive guitar who came a few minutes late. I did not let in a woman who asked to come in after a half hour had passed. I am considering not letting in any latecomers at all, it’s not like I am in an auditorium where punters can quietly sit in the back unnoticed. It feels more like someone asking if they can join a dinner party in progress while the host is telling a story everyone is into. We all get pulled out of the story as we all move over to make room. It is not ideal.
I go to an industry bar hoping to run into someone I know to spitball possible solutions. Everyone suggests getting a fan but there is zero cool air coming in that it will just exacerbate the situation and it just makes me think of Ebola. I will try some ideas I have tonight as my big solution from Amazon is coming tomorrow. We will see how that goes.
I then lost my phone. I retraced my steps from the industry bar back to the venue and had no luck finding it there. I then remember googling “How to cool a hot room” and getting the answer, “Sleep like an Egyptian” (Apparently, that is a thing) near the industry bar. It seems my phone had fallen out on the couch I was sitting on when I realized it was gone and was just behind me the whole time I was looking for it. Someone turned it in at the bar.
I go home having made my Fitbit very happy and crash into bed.
This daily blog will not be proofread for spelling or punctuation, just like Chortle.
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Dear Gaijin Girl,
I really really want to learn Japanese. How do I do that?
My advice is don't. However, if you really really want to learn Japanese nothing I say can stop you, you poor and unfortunate soul.
With that in mind, I highly recommend you watch Japanese dramas. They are the perfect guide to speaking Japanese like real people. (Forget that anime stuff unless you want to sound like you are perpetually ready to either burst into tears or attack pocket monsters.)
You also want to watch live action dramas so you can understand the grammatical value of Japanese facial expressions and what they mean. In order to speak Japanese like a native it's important to learn the fine art of being expressionless. When you master this, you will then able to not react to anything that you perceive as negative or unfavorable. As we all know, in Japan, if you ignore something you don't like, it will eventually go away like the homeless man masturbating in the station, the foreigner trying to get the station manager to stop the masturbating homeless man or the wife at home. It's a handy skill to have when dealing with the police and the NHK man. (And you will deal with them more than you ever wanted to)
Japanese dramas are hour long shows that run for three months and then they are over. If the dramas are popular, they may have a second or third season the following year but that is pretty unlikely.
Japanese dramas are always called dramas, even if they are comedies because if the network were to label a show a comedy they would also find the need to fuck it up with story stopping gags. I'll admit to watching and loving two Japanese comics take turns hitting each other as hard as they can in the shins with metal park swings for half an hour but I wouldn't watch an hour of it every week for a season. It is unfortunate that most Japanese comics on TV have very little or no control over their material or their career and make very little money doing it. If you ever wonder why the contestants on Japanese gameshows are never civilians but are always comedians trying to win things like cheese and ham, it's because they are broke and hungry. They are literally working for food.
Japanese dramas also let you in on some important and commonly held beliefs in Japan. The first being that if you are caught in the rain without an umbrella, you will get sick and probably die. A strange pair of shoes in your genkan or entrance means your significant other is cheating on you. A half eaten boxed lunch means a husband no longer or never did love his wife. Anybody with a necktie around their head is a drunk asshole over 50. Any drama with Kimura Takuya or Kimutaku in it is good. (Though the theme music will be bad.) Any drama where the lead is a female is antifeminist propaganda. Japanese people who speak English too well are evil. (American movies are also guilty of this. In them, the devil is always a white guy ridiculously good at speaking Russian or Chinese.) Marriage proposals are never romantic and if you fall in love with the wrong person (or your ordained by the gods soul mate) you will also fall into a coma or go blind.
Enjoy and good luck,
Dear Gaijin Girl.
Everyone keeps asking me what I'm doing for Golden week?
Golden week, what's that?
I'm glad you asked. Golden Week or GW is officially a time for Japanese nationals to reflect on the turbulent rein of Emperor Hirohito, as well as, honor his obsessive compulsion to document and classify every sea animal and plant in existence to cope with his role in WW II. (To be fair, it is better that hitting the bottle or the wife. It's frankly hard to hate the guy. He was buried with his microscope and Mickey Mouse watch for crying out loud.) The Japanese are also supposed to reflect on the constitution they have but didn't write or ask for.
I should note that when I say " reflect" I mean "spend a lot of money." The entire country takes 3-7 days off work and celebrates being Japanese by leaving the country. Many go to Guam, Saipan or Hawaii and complain about all the other Japanese tourists there. Those stuck in Japan due to inflated airfare might go to Kyoto or Osaka and complain about not being able to complain about all the other Japanese tourists in Waikiki-ken.
The Japanese are also celebrating Boy's Day which is on March 5th. A little FYI, Girl's Day is on March 3rd (Not a national holiday like Boy's Day. Now, that's a surprise.) and Drag Day is April 4th. (Not a national holiday but there is a parade.) I was informed of this by a Japanese man on what I thought was our first date. It then occurred to me that straight men do not offer this kind of info to women they plan on sleeping with. Looking back, I should have known he was gay when I realized our conversation was genuinely interesting and he was considerate. It turns out he'd asked me out because he thought I was a lesbian and he was looking for a "comrade" I don't blame him, I was going through a rock n roll look at the time. I was aiming for heroin chic, but that only works if you are actually on heroin. I was pretty chubby so I looked a bit butch. On top of that, I met him at a birthday party at a gay men's cowboy themed bar named Arty Farty. He came up to me and asked if I "come here often?" I thought he was one of those straight guys that hit on "fag hags" in gay men's bars I’d heard about. (By they way, I hate that term. I prefer the "fruit fly" thank you very much) I don't think I've ever disappointed a man more by telling him I was straight. (except for maybe Dad)
I'm telling you all this because this all happened my first Golden Week in Japan and your first GW won't be anywhere near as awkward as mine was if you take my advice.
Withdraw heaps of cash from your bank account a few days before GW starts because the ATMs will be CLOSED for most if not all of Golden Week. I know, it sounds stupid to not be able to get cash anytime you want. Isn't that what ATMs are FOR?! The answer is yes and no. The thing is Japan is a fairly safe country. (as long as you don't have any family in it) It is also primarily a cash country where the average salaryman/ housewife is carrying the equivalent of $300 in cash at all times. I've seen university students pay for laptop computers entirely in cash, thumping the equivalent of a grand or two on the counter and the cashier doesn't even flinch. Hell, the cashier is already fishing out correct change. It's like watching people play monopoly.
There is another psychological reason for the ATMs to be closed. Credit cards aren't really used in Japan the way they are in the US. Not that many people have them to begin with and the credit limit is usually set way lower than your monthly salary. (Particularly if you are a working class foreigner) Whatever you owe the credit card company is taken directly out of your bank account at the end of the month. Only if your bank account is empty do you incur interest. The interest rates aren't nearly as high as in the States. There are other more predatory avenues to borrow money, these are often called "sarakin" or "gakusei loan" these companies offer short term cash loans for up to 20% interest and are often "family business" related. A great avenue if you want to practice begging for forgiveness in Japanese and sitting dogeiza http://youtu.be/bG6oT5kYI0Y
The phycological reason for shutting down the ATMs is this. As you withdraw more cash than you plan to spend just before the holiday in case there is an emergency, something always happens. (though it’s hardly ever an emergency)
GW is one of the few times you and your friends are free see each other and since nobody goes to anybody's home, you'll inevitably go out to eat, drink and shop. Karaoke box hustlers will try to pull you into their shop where you'll spend ¥5000 yen an hour belting out the latest Taylor Swift in Katakana English and drinking the weakest cocktails on earth, all the while, trying not to touch anything in the karaoke box, knowing it's the poor man's love hotel. (Don't ever stop to ponder where people have put the microphone, it'll spoil your evening. Just bring hand sanitizer and dip the microphone handles in it.)
That’s my advice, withdraw as much cash as you can to get you through a week that will always be much more expensive than you expect it to be. (Oh yeah, and try to get your Japanese friends to do an Eminem song in the karaoke box. Eminem in katakana English is way cuter than kittens on the internet.)
A friend from the States is visiting me in Tokyo. What is the most Japanese place I can take them?
I am so glad you asked this question. Skip the temples, the sakura and the sake. The most Japanese place on earth is Tokyo Disneyland, possibly Tokyo DisneySea. I know you're probably thinking this is American imperialism at it's worst. It's not. In true Japanese fashion, Japan has embraced the brain child of my fellow Kansas City escapee and infamous chain smoker, making it her own. (It was bound to happen. Mickey's head and ears are so circular they are positively zen like and the Japanese love smoking more than Don Draper.)
For starters, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneysea are crazy crowded but never chaotic. People wait quietly yet excitedly for hours at a time to ride the latest Disney miracle with zero complaints or whining. (The only whining or crying I've ever seen there is by foreigners or children too small to feel the collective burning shame radiating from society.)
The park is ridiculously clean, even by Tokyo standards. Sure, you will find a bit of popcorn here and there.The physical evidence of a small child losing their mind when meeting the absolutely gigantic Mickey Mouse. Unlike Western toddlers, they seldom scream or cry in the faces of Mickey, Minnie or even the Frozen chicks. Instead, they silently implode. That is why the park smells of anticipation. That is to say that the park smells of strawberry and caramel popcorn farts.
The staff are so polite and accommodating to guests every single need that after I left the park, I found it frustrating when my taxi driver was unable to read my mind. Even cast members hauling trash bags full of dirty diapers smile and wave at guests and tourists with a grace and gusto that puts royal families to shame. If you drop your purse or wallet under a seat in a ride or on Main Street, U.S.A it will show up in lost and found within minutes if not seconds and all of your credit cards and cash will have remained in tact. (Unless you'd just come from the souvenir shop. In which case, you wouldn't have anything left to steal anyway.)
If you've spent more than five seconds in Japan, you know how imperative it is to be or have something cute. Life just does not get any cuter than it does at Tokyo Disneyland or Disneysea, nor could it be more embraced by every gender and age. Everyone dresses cute there, it doesn't matter if you're 4 or 400 years-old. You've got your Lolita on. ( I've seen the roughest, toughest pinky missing, pubic hair perm wearing "family man" in an oversized Winnie the Pooh hat giggling into his soy sauce and butter popcorn Donald Duck bucket. (Yes, that flavor exists.)
Each character has his/her own herd of groupies with season passes, many of whom remind you of the groupies depicted in Almost Famous. Many of these teens,twenty somethings and kyoiku mommas would let a character have their way with them behind the rocks of Thunder Mountain if Mr. Big Yellow Shoes only asked. Sadly, the characters are not allowed to talk. Plus, it is damn near impossible to tell at a glance which groupies would take up an indecent proposal because Japan does not make a distinction between dressing cute and dressing sexy. They are one and the same. FYI, to stop dressing cute is to renounce one's sexual activity once and for all.
Just so you know, every one of the Japanese kids in the Disney character drawing class is going to kick your ass. (especially since erasers are banned) Just accept that and enjoy your glorious mistakes. You will be complimented on your "creativity" and "skill" by the teenager sitting next to you with a flawless replica of Rapunzel as if your making Rapunzel look like she was chewing tobacco was a deliberate social statement on gender equality. Smile and say, “thank you”. Some of those kids think you have direct access to Disney himself. (You've got a better chance at being actual kin than they do) Maybe you are an undercover quality control expert or an animation talent scout for the next Toy Story movie. Ready or not, you will become apart of their Disney experience. Don't assume they are being sarcastic and resist the urge to pop their Fantasyland bubble. (I still have bite marks on my lips for my last visit a week ago.)
The Japanese have temples and shrines but Disneyland, Disneysea and the Apple store truly is Church. It's where people gather regularly, if not weekly, to worship with varying levels of devotion. If the Japanese like something or someone they like them forever (For example, Mr. Big is still big in Japan) maintaining a devotion and intensity that can be both charming and alarming. I once saw a what looked like a 6 year-old girl on her father's shoulders in tears screaming between hiccups, " I love you so much!" like Holly Hunter in Raising Arizona (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GIyTFl4Cb4) as Cinderella passed by in the electric parade. Her surfer father, looking eager but unsure of how to support his daughter in her emotional outburst, thrust two shaka signs in the air screaming, " Hell yeah, we love you Cinderella!" It would be a pity for anyone visiting Japan to miss that.
Ask Gaijin Girl: Brilliant Advice From a Bitter Woman Always Ready to Help you With Your Life and Relationships Because She Never Has One
Dear Gaijin Girl,
I’ve bee invited to my coworker’s Wedding in Tokyo. What should I expect?
Be prepared to be poor! Just so you know, Japanese weddings come in parts of three and they don’t come cheap.
The first part is the actual ceremony. It is the exchanging of vows in a Shinto or Christian style shrine, church, chapel, hotel or beachfront. This ceremony typically lasts no more than twenty minutes and only the bride and groom’s closest family and/or friends attend. ( Count yourself lucky that you are not close friends because that makes things even more expensive for you along the way.) None of these ceremonies are legally binding, by the way. All the legal documents are handled a month or more before or after the ceremony at City Hall in the Department of Marriage, Death and Divorce, where the employees there make bets on why you’ll be visiting them next time.
(I’ve seen Mickey and Minnie sign as witnesses on a Marriage Certificate in a ceremony at Disneyland. I can’t think of a shakier foundation for a marriage unless the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had signed instead. ) The ceremony might last up to an hour or more at a Christian church. At one wedding I attended, the pastor told a long story about how the love between the bride and groom reminded him of the love a child with Down’s syndrome had for the local life guard. I don’t remember what happened in the story other than it was very long and touching but I do remember the bride and groom looking at each other throughout the whole story as if to say, “So, am I the kid with Down’s syndrome or is that you?!”
The second part is the main event and is a cross between a fancy five course dinner and a community theater talent show starring the groom’s company boss. It is customary/mandatory that you give the couple $300 in a special celebratory envelope you can buy at you’re local 7-11. Be sure not to buy the envelope for funerals right next to it. It sends a mixed message and delivers bad juju to the newly joined couple. (You really don’t want to jinx the marriage, because if your coworker divorces and then marries again, you have to gift yet another $300.) Japan’s Got No Talent/Why I Kept My Day Job Showcase part of the ceremony can go on for hours as selected coworkers, friends and family sing songs, act out hastily written comedy sketches, present PowerPoint presentations on how the bride and groom first met while ancient relatives live Skype simultaneously their congratulations and guilt trips for not having a wedding party closer to their respective hometowns. Tears flow freely and often. (Mostly because of the guilt trips.) Not to worry, so much good food will be coming your way that you’ll be too busy cutting your steak into bite size pieces to notice most of the waterworks. (I always am.) The grooms boss at some point will make the equivalent of the best man’s speech, only duller. Japanese style speeches leave much to be desired. They don’t like to get to the point. They would much rather beat around the bush until it’s obliterated. Fortunately, by time the bossman goes to the podium to speak, you’ll be too drunk to care. As you leave the party, one of two things will happen. The bride and groom will give you either a”Thanks for coming” gift, such as a candle or a fancy photo frame, or they will give you a catalogue of gifts ranging from jewelry to home appliances to sports equipment for you to take home and choose a “thank you”to be delivered to your home. (The gifts range in quality from Cracker Jack toy to Argos.)
Part three is the “after party” that will cost you anywhere from $20-$100. It is usually a bar with an all-you-can-drink 2 hour plan. Typically, there is one table for boys and one table for girls. Welcome to the 8th grade with alcohol. Hardly anybody hooks up because of or at a Japanese wedding party. (That includes the bride and groom) Under no circumstances are you to dress sexy. Cute is the order that rules the land. Dress as you would for senior prom circa 1955. There will be very little or no dancing or mingling, just a lot of people asking you when you are getting married again, planning to have a child, and exactly when you plan on retiring to raise your still nonexistent children. In other words, bring a book.
Dear Gaijin Girl,
I’ve just started working at a Japanese office and I have been invited to go to a cherry blossom viewing party with my colleagues but I don’t like to drink. What should I do?
Oh my poor, sweet and ridiculously silly Tom. If you do not like alcohol, why in the name of Jim Beam, Johnnie Walker and Shirley Buddhist Temple are you in Japan of all places?! Did you fly in direct from Salt Lake City or what?
In Japan, alcohol does not merely help lubricate social and work events, it is the fuel that propels society, family and business into the future. As an employee and team member you will be required to eat and drink with your boss and colleagues more often than you ever will with your spouse. You’ll be obliged to pour your boss’s beer again and again whenever the tiny glass threatens to go empty. You are never allowed to pour your own drink. Someone else will be in charge of filling your own glass, probably a coworker that is three years your senior and already hates your guts because your English is much better than his and you get paid slightly more than him as you are as considered part guest, part circus sideshow and part office pet, in that you aren’t expected be around in two years time. This man will do everything in his power to oblige you to bow to the social pressure of drinking too much and then eating ramen until you are projectile vomiting all over your boss at the train station. (A sublime job perk not mentioned in your contract. )
Sakura (cherry blossom) season is upon us. It’s the time when the nation collectively responds to the question, “What is the meaning of life?” with “Who cares?! Look at the pretty flowers! Here, drink this and when you feel sick just be sure to aim away from the blue tarp. We don’t want anyone thinking it’s a monjayaki buffet.”
There are a lot of Japanese people who do not drink. They are a silent minority that frequently “pass” as drinkers in order to escape being socially and ultimately monetarily punished for not “being a team player”. Many pretend to be wildly drunk, dancing around the bar or izakaya singing Elvis Presley until everyone looks as uncomfortable as George Bush did when Koizumi had a religious experience in Graceland.
Women have it easier in that they are not expected to drink nearly as much but also have to sidestep comments from male and female colleagues about their breast size, backside and speculation as to whether they’d be maguro (move like a dead fish) in bed. There may or may not be any groping to contend with. Oddly, I’ve been groped by Japanese women far more than I’ve been groped by men. Women have grabbed or “honked” my breasts on a train platform in the middle of the day. I’d yell at them, “What are you, crazy?” Stop it!” They wouldn’t. My offended reaction egged them on so I learned through exasperation that the only way to make them stop was to grope them in return. If a woman “honked” my boob, I’d honk them right back. If they grabbed my ample life raft of an ass, I’d manage to get a handful of their nonexistent one. It worked.
Once, I was groped on the street by a man on a bicycle. I had just stepped out of a taxi and turned around to go up the street and suddenly this bald dude that was sweating alcohol was in my face. He gave my boob a hard squeeze. I screamed, he grunted and then he took off on his bike. If you have to be sexual assaulted, that’s the kind you want, quick and relatively painless but it really irked me that someone could be so mentally ill and have such good coordination and balance skills at the same time. It’s just not fair. In hindsight, I wished I’d been grocery shopping earlier and had a tin can of tomato sauce to hurl and dent the other side of his bald head with as he rode away. Call me a romantic, it’s just a better end to the story.
Anyway, you will sooner or later be required to drink with your coworkers, clients, and future in-laws. Japanese style bars frequently have plastic potted plants near the table for you to discreetly dump your drink if you want. Learn how to act drunk. Also, develop a repertoire of different kinds of drunk, ranging from mildly tipsy to wandering naked in a park so you are ready for any occasion or alcohol level. Don’t be afraid to get yourself in embarrassing situations. Japanese love nothing more that to be told a story about how you woke up at the station in a pool of your own vomit, decided to write your bicycle home where you lost control, hit the curb, fell off face first into the sidewalk, breaking your jaw. They LOVE stories like that because it’s what their wife did last week after the PTA meeting. (Actually that example came from a Japanese grandmother. That jaw break earned her all kinds of street cred and is now considered a legend in her community.) It’ll bring you closer together as coworkers and comrades.
I don’t judge you for not liking drinking. I don’t drink much myself. (My drug of choice is sugar) It’s just so much easier to fit in Japan if you do. I’m not saying you’ll be any happier or more financially secure. I’m just saying people will be less annoyed with you and see you less as an outsider. I guess what I’m saying is, “ If you’re not planning on becoming a drinker, GET OUT OF HERE!" If you don't, it's only a matter of time before you're cleaning up your inebriated coworker's urine puddle at the station with spare tissue you found at the bottom of your briefcase, on a Saturday night. I seriously doubt your company pays you enough to put up with that.
Ask Gaijin Girl: Brilliant Advice From a Bitter Woman Always Ready to Help you With Your Life and Relationships Because She Never Has One
Dear Gaijin Girl,
I’m a first year English teacher at a primary school in Iwate. I’ve just been invited to attend the funeral of our principal’s husband. What should I expect?
Just so you know, it doesn’t matter if you teach English at a primary school or not. If you are a foreigner in Japan, you are an English teacher. It’s only a matter of time until your pillow talk includes an exasperated explanation on why you said, “Do that thing I like.” instead of, “Do this thing I like.” that will kill the romance faster than a chopstick up the nose. As grammar takes up more and more of your conversation and he takes note of new vocabulary words you’ve unwittingly dropped, you will soon begin to wonder if he is using you just to improve his TOEIC score and get that coveted, swanky overseas promotion at work. Trust me, it feels better to be used for sex. At least sex is sexy. Having to explain what predicates are while having sex? Not so much.
Sorry to hear about your principal’s loss. That’s a shame but from a cross cultural perspective, it’s kind of cool. You get to experience Buddhism in all off it’s cyclical pond paradise glory. ( I recently walked by a Buddhist cemetery that had on it’s wall an advertisement for the love hotel next door to it. On the other side of the love hotel was a crematory. That busy block represented the circle of life not found as an attraction at your local Disney park.)
You should know that you will be expected to bring money, ¥5000 (about 50 bucks) in a special “Sorry he/she died” envelope. (You can buy the envelopes at your local convenience store for a buck or more. Be careful not to choose the “So happy he died!” implying celebratory envelopes right next to them. These envelopes can look virtually identical unless you can decipher the handwritten style Kanji on the flashy chord embroidered faces. Bring a Japanese person with you to make sure, you don’t want to be the one who lets the cat out of the bag and confirm what everybody is really thinking, that nobody really liked him. Plus, it’s bad juju.
The Japanese aren’t as much religious as they are superstitious. (Though they are beyond fine with opening umbrellas indoors. So much so that if I were superstitious, I’d point a finger at all the rows of open drying umbrellas in schools and apartment buildings and, like a mechanic with his butt crack showing, pronounce, “Well there’s the cause of all your earthquakes and disasters right there.”)
I was recently in a building on grounds that were used as a prison for war criminals. Plus, it was the site of several executions during and after WWII. The building is now a shopping mall called “Sunshine City” and many people working in it are convinced it is haunted with ghosts. When our elevator stopped, opening at the 4th floor when nobody had pushed a button for it and there was no one waiting to get on, the two women in the elevator with me agreed it must have been ghosts and commented that if you were there all alone in the building at night, you could hear the ghosts marching and/or screaming. Interesting for sure, but it doesn’t answer the more pressing question, “Why would a ghost need an elevator?”
Back to funerals, don’t put anymore than ¥5000 in the envelope, or you’ll look happy he died. Also don’t wear anything shiny, hair clip, tie clip or otherwise. This is also considered a celebratory, “yay he’s dead” gesture. Wear all black, and I mean all black, preferably a bit shitty too. If you want to wear jewelry, an unflattering single string of fake pearls is your only option. Men wear a black suit, white shirt with a black tie, a la Blues Brothers. When in doubt, just think “What would I wear or do at a jazz funeral” and whatever your answer is, don’t do that.
Be prepared for very few tears and a lot of smiling and laughing by friends and family before and after the ceremony, particularly if the deceased is old. Everyone will appear to be happy in a “I never thought he’d leave!” kind of way. Some will be, for sure. Generally, the waterworks tend to flood at home after the funeral. The smiling and the laughing are a brave show to a room full of people who are also a little bit drunk or can’t wait to be a lot drunk at the after party.
If you attend the wake, expect shitty food, usually stale finger sandwiches from a catering service specializing in shitty food for funerals and wakes. (Again, if the food is good, it’s the mark a celebration. Plus, grief is a lot like flying in that your palate is shot anyway.)
A super expensive Buddhist priest with pop up midway through the ceremony, put his Rolex watch to the side and then chant a bit, 15 minutes or so, he may or may not wave around a horse hair whip, put his watch back on and then promptly disappear.
You will probably be expected to pinch ash, (not the deceased, something akin to incense ash) and raise it to your forehead with a quick prayer for the deceased.
You might also help place statues of wooden Buddhas and the deceased’s favorite flammable things, pictures, cigarettes, anime figurines, and that sort of thing in the casket before taking it to the crematory. The crematory is usually a private bus ride away from the funeral home, creating a chicken exit for those not able to stomach watching someone go into and out of an oven where guests are expected to help place the biggest bits of the remains in a box via chopsticks. (I recommend skipping this bit if your chopstick skills aren’t up to snuff. You don’t want to be the one who accidentally flung Grandpa’s backbone clear across the room and into a bin.)
Oh yeah, before you leave, you’ll be given a gift. Usually something boring and dull (hints of celebration be damned unless it's alcohol related) like buckwheat tea or new bath towels. I have a stack of these towels in my closet. No matter how hard I try and as nice as they are, I just can’t bring myself to use the “Dead Man’s “towels. I can’t shake the feeling he can see me use them. I guess I’ll have to ask him if he can the next time an elevator door at Sunshine City opens for no reason.
Dear Gaijin girl,
My 45 year-old son isn’t married and still lives at home. How can I get him married or to move out of the house?
Sincerely sick and tired,
For the love of Buddha and the wife and child he abandoned, stop doing your son’s laundry! Stop cooking for him! Stop providing him a rent and utility free existence that enables him to buy enough electronics, game consoles and porn to ensure he doesn’t have to have any real human interaction until there is an electronic apocalypse or too many blisters on his right hand.
I also want you to ask yourself a few questions. If you are married, do you enjoy your marriage? Have you, at any point and time, told him that the only reason you are in the marriage was for your son’s benefit? If you have, you’ve got nobody but yourself to blame by giving him absolutely nothing to look forward to. The relationship between parent and child is typically stronger than between husband and wife in Japan. There was a time when this was necessary for survival but not anymore. (I seriously doubt your husband is a samurai riding horseback around the country burning down temples and shrines. If he is, well done. That’s much sexier than a salaryman getting drunk with his coworkers and projectile vomiting in the station.)
In the West, as you grow older, you gain more and more freedom along with control over your life. In Japan, it’s the opposite. As you grow older, you lose your freedom. That’s why a child under the age of 5 in Japan can resemble a wild animal. Once they enter the school system, the social pressure to conform is as swift and as intense as Anne Sullivan teaching Hellen Keller how to fold a napkin. In a way, life peaks at the age of 6 in Japan. You are surrounded by educated adults whose primary concern is your welfare. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers typically work past midnight every night (unpaid mandatory overtime) to decorate classrooms, put together activities and festivals in a manner that puts Broadway production values to shame. The typical elementary school classroom resembles Disneyland with desks and slightly better food. (F.Y.I. Disneyland food sucks balls) University is the last shot at freedom before entering a life sentence of doing desk work in a gray office in a gray building in a gray suit while being financially responsible for a family. Ask the average Japanese university student, “What are you reading?” They will reply, “What do you mean ‘reading?’ Why would I be reading? I’m going to Thailand to eat mushrooms and buy a T-shirt in a language I don’t understand that says, “I took home an exotic dancer and all I got was this pukey t-shirt.”
In the West, it’s completely different. Most parents swiftly kick their children out of the house when they are 18 and turn the child’s room into a gym or a dungeon filled with geriatric fetish furniture to host munches. This may seem harsh at first but the nice thing about kids being kicked out at that age is after they leave home, you never have to see them ever again unless you really want to and isn’t that a nice choice to have? You’ll be much less tempted to kill your son in his sleep, which is another option albeit a messy one. I should warn you that freedom works both ways. An American friend living in Japan complains about his mother in New Jersey constantly calling him asking him to visit. I tell him he doesn’t know how to leave a country right. He should have never given her his number.
Your son is fully aware of the fact that life can’t possibly get any better for him than it is right now so make life more difficult for him. Kick him out. Make him pay rent. Try and initiate sex with your husband in front of him. You don’t have to do that but try to rekindle the romance in your marriage anyway. A pickle tickle wouldn’t hurt you none. Frankly, you probably need it. (Oh and stop calling your husband ‘Dad’ your son doesn’t need the reinforcement to call him that anymore plus, it’s unsettling.) If this seems too difficult, move. Move away or get on the Peaceboat if you like just leave all your son’s stuff in garbage bags in front of the home you’ve vacated and don’t tell him where you’ve moved to for at least a year. That’ll get him out of the house and into a pachinko parlor or soapland but at least he won’t be your problem anymore. You’ve been a great mom but now is the time to cut the crusty cord and to stop fantasizing about the death of a person you are supposed to love before you end up on a wideshow for CO poisoning everyone in the house.
Dear Gaijin Girl,
I’m 16 years old, live in Iowa and want to learn Japanese. What’s the best way to do that?
Dear sweet Lori, I know exactly how you feel. You see a Kurosawa, an Itami film or some anime and are blown away by how exotic and mysterious the people and culture seem to be. Whenever people make a list of all the places they’ve visited on their website or in conversation, Japan is always mentioned last because it is culturally and technologically the closest you can get to the moon. Hell, you could have gone to the moon and set up a self sustaining colony there and people would still say, “Really? You’ve been to Japan? That’s fascinating!”
Let me save you hours upon hours spent scribbling thousands upon thousands of angled pretzels into little green boxes or conjugating infixes. Don’t bother learning Japanese, nobody is saying anything interesting.
I studied Japanese for three years in high school, four years in university (it was my major.) before coming to Japan to find out no one is debating the meaning of life or how many reincarnations it takes to reach enlightenment. They’re talking about how much cuter their rhinestone Hello Kitty smartphone case is compared to the “old” one they bought two months ago. (and that’s just the men)
One of my Japanese language classmates translated a book and some letters written in pre-Word War II Japanese into English. Because of this, he won an award and got to meet the emperor and empress. (He said they were nice and cordial enough but that their heads were so disproportionately large compared to their tiny little bodies that they looked like bobble-heads on a dashboard.) The night before he flew back to America we took him out for a drink that turned into several. Then this man who I looked up to and whose Japanese ability I absolutely envied said, “Why the hell did I study Japanese! Where can I go? Where will this take me other than Japan?! I should have studied Spanish or French, I’d be able to travel around Africa independently if I spoke French! Where the hell can I go with Japanese?! “ At this point, a Japanese friend and classmate raised a glass proposing a toast in his nonnative English, “May you never remember your time here forever!” “Here, here!” said my my award winning classmate as glasses clinked. Last I heard, he became a best-selling science fiction writer. I have no idea if he translates his books into Japanese himself, but somehow I doubt it.
By the way, just so you know, many Japanese people don’t want you to learn Japanese. It’s much more charming and romantic if you don’t. One summer, I went to the ocean. A twenty-something woman and her two friends approached me in the water.
“Where are you from?” she asked in Japanese.
“From the States. “ I answered.
“Cool, here, you can use my inner tube. Do you like Japan?”
“Sure, it’s great.”
“Your Japanese is pretty good. How long have you been here?
“Thanks, I’ve been here twelve years.”
“Ugh! Give me back my inner tube. You’re not any fun. You know too much about us!” she said as she took back her flotation device and swam in the direction of Westerners with tattoos on their forearms. Fat chance they’d been in Japan longer than a week unless they loved wearing long-sleeved shirts year round.
If I still haven’t deterred you from studying Japanese even after I tell you that unless you live in California, Hawaii, are Asian or work as a translator for a Midwestern soybean farm, people are going to assume you are pretentious and loaded since you have the time to study such a seemingly superfluous language. I recommend you have a “Japanese and…” plan. You can only learn a language effectively if you have something to talk about so pick some skills you can master, get paid for and then talk about. Do you like Japanese manga or anime? Learn how to draw and research the words and phrases that come up during rape. Do you like politics? Practice throwing people under the bus and then become proficient at avoiding direct questions about it. Maybe one day, you’ll be the American ambassador to Japan and when a dispute over whether Japan, Korea or China owns a particular island, as well as, the natural resources under it, you can bust out a pair the binoculars on the first bullet train to Kyoto and say,”My, what beautiful temples you have here!”
My advice? Learn how to code.
Dear Gaijin Girl, Why won’t my foreign boyfriend learn Japanese? I’m tired of translating for him all the time. Set to spat, Akiko
Dear Akiko, I hear you. There is something emasculating about a man not being able to decipher a McDonald’s menu on his own, let alone all the apologies now hanging in that fine dining establishment promising diners they will no longer find strips of leather in their chicken nuggets nor will their children cut their mouths on ice cream machinery parts that somehow made their way into sundaes. (If he could, he wouldn’t be eating there or currently choking on a piece of leather while nursing a Joker worthy cut on the inside of his mouth.)
I’m assuming your husband is a native English speaker. If your husband spoke native French, Spanish or Italian, you wouldn’t be writing me, you’d be far too busy enjoying comparatively mind blowing sex. Let’s be honest, one of the reasons you were attracted to him in the first place was because he spoke a language exotic and yet oh so familiar to you since the third grade when the English alphabet and pesky letters like b, d, v, r and l were forced upon you. These letters tormented and taunted you to unleash your tongue from the confines of your teeth, bite your lower lip and even cause said lip to vibrate (Gasp!) You couldn’t escape the feeling that you were doing something naughty like Kate Winslet being taught to hock a loogie by Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic. And just like with the movie Titanic, you couldn’t wait for the ridiculous English lesson to end.
English has always been a challenge and therefore has always been attractive. This is one reason why Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Keanu Reeves will always be popular in Japan. In any given action movie they are in, their characters have a vocabulary of 50 words max. With dialog like, “Go now!” “Trust me!” and “Shit!” the brains of Japanese theater goers light up with recognition and a feeling that 6 years of intensive English study in junior high and high school weren’t a complete waste of time after all. The other reason is Japan has the oldest population in the world and its senior citizens have the time plus the discount to spend hours upon hours in movie theaters . They want to watch movies that tell them they could still be spies, agents and freedom fighters that have tongue tussles with girls young enough to be their grandchildren if they just ditched the walker.
Let me warn you. If your boyfriend does start to learn to speak Japanese, it won’t be pretty. Actually it will, it will be pretty disappointing because he is probably going to sound a lot like you as he is going to listen to you the most (You’re the one that’s been harping on him to learn the language) and because Japanese has a distinct feminine and masculine ways of speaking. He probably isn’t aware how different the speaking styles are. The only way I could see this working out well is if you are Victoria Beckham and your boyfriend is David Beckham. You also need to ask yourself this question, “Do I really want my pillow talk to include Japanese grammar?” Since English grammar already takes up a majority of your pillow talk, you’ll burn out and finally discover (much faster than you would otherwise) that you two have nothing to talk about because you have nothing in common other than being incredibly horny.
Encouraging him to learn how to write Japanese may cause a similarly unsexy situation as your LDK will be littered with green, flowery and half finished kanji workbooks you haven’t seen since elementary school. You’re boyfriend will treat you even more like a walking google translation app than he does now, as he asks you what some obscure kanji means on the back of his box of condoms. (Of course the obscure kanji in question means “small” but you are not going to be the one to tell him that. ) He will try to impress you with the newfound knowledge that a kanji character depicting one woman in a house means “ a wife” while three equals “a cacophony” and then needle you, the native Japanese speaker, for not being able to write the kanji for “soy sauce” if your life depended on it.
I’d encourage your boyfriend to learn to do something a bit sexier than speak or read Japanese. For example, encourage him to get a job. If you think your boyfriend has enough time to learn Japanese, he’s obviously got way too much time on his hands. Good Luck, Gaijin Girl
Since it's black history month, I thought I'd post a surprisingly clean bit I've been doing on racism in Japan. Enjoy!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39AyJ0WKsc4
Always Ready To Give You Advice On Life And Relationships Because She Never Has One Dear Gaijin Girl, When I was dating my American husband two years ago, he said he would move back to the States and take me with him. Now he says that he never wants to go back but I want to live in America. What should I do? Troubled in Tokyo, Megumi
Dear Megumi, I can see where you are coming from, but have you been watching the news lately or ever? If you haven’t, let me fill you in on a tinny tiny development, America has done lost its mind. If you see a restaurant advertisement in the States proclaiming the food will “blow your tastebuds away” it’s because the chef can’t handle criticism, can’t afford his meds and carries a concealed semiautomatic gun at all times. And unless you plan on living in New York City or downtown Chicago, you are going to have to buy a car. Buying and maintaining a car in America is like having a financial caesarian every five to ten years: It’s ridiculously expensive and there is always the possibility you might die in it. ( Because somebody shot you.) Oh, and if you move to America, you won’t be able to save a seat at Starbucks by placing your brand new iPhone 6 on the table anymore because people STEAL SHIT there. In Japan, people aren’t robbed so much as we are collectively screwed over blind and we take comfort in the knowledge that everyone is screwed over together, keeping the paramount virtue of harmony perversely in tact. Oh yeah, and being screwed over in Japan doesn’t involve getting shot. That’s a lovely thing about Japan. If someone doesn’t like you, they don’t shoot you. They just make your life so miserable that you want to kill yourself. Anyway, it is easy to project our hopes and dreams onto a country that we’ve never lived in but think we know a lot about. I’m guilty of that myself. I thought I’d move to Japan, meet a nice man and be embraced by his family. Instead, well, let’s just say that did NOT happen and I’m kind of glad my Japanese isn’t good enough to understand every single racist and sexist slur hurled my way. One day on a Tokyo train, what looked like a 6 year-old boy told his father he thought I had pretty hair. The father turned to his son and said, “Don’t you ever bring a white woman home!” before going off on a tirade on how a woman like me would walk all over him, take all his money and leave him with nothing!” When he finished, I walked up to them, look at the little boy in the eyes and said in Japanese, “Listen to your father. Do exactly what he says. He knows what he’s talking about.” and got off the train. I wasn’t upset, I was too flattered that I was skinny or even remotely pretty enough to remind him of the Russian hostess that stole his money. I think you need to evaluate your relationship. Did you marry your husband because he looked like your love handled green card to America or did you want to build a life with him wherever you may be? If you REALLY want to live in America, you don’t have to marry or be married to an American to do it. You can figure something out. One more thing, if you decide to leave your husband and go to America on your own, don’t date a drug dealer, and don’t let them keep drugs in your house/apartment. I know too many Japanese women who got mixed up with drug dealers and ended up in American jail for two years before being deported back to Japan. (And by too many, I mean one.) Life is not a movie or a music video. (That said, her English got really, really good as did her Spanish but don’t you finish this letter thinking American jail is the new Rosetta Stone.) Good Luck, Gaijin Girl
Always Ready to Help You With Your Life and Relationships Because She Never Has One Dear Gaijin Girl, My American Husband and I have been married for three years and have two children. My husband still expects me to have sex with him. Is this normal? Sincerely Stumped, Mizuho
Dear Mizuho, I completely understand how you feel. Actually, no, that’s a lie. I cannot understand why you’d want to turn down a reliable and ready source of the coitus unless it’s your husband is really bad at sex or you don’t know how to enjoy it. In the West, sex is always considered a dish on the marital menu that may or may not be ordered every day but is never completely removed from the bill of fare unless the restaurant burns down. (Even then, I’m sure some people would roast marshmallows over the still burning flames of the building hoping against hope that their charred bits of sugar fluff will taste like sex or at least, a hand job.) As I told the Japanese wife of a Welsh neighbor, “If you want to have a long and happy marriage, learn how to like sex because your husband is going to want to have sex with you until you die and probably after.” (The Welsh husband smiled, nodded and drooled in agreement.) There are many resources you can go to to learn more about how to enjoy sex but I recommend staying away from Japanese porn or anything else that suggests woman are not voluntary participants in the act or involve girls so young they technically haven’t been born yet. Contrary to popular belief, your sexual prowess does not peak at twelve years-old and a satisfying sexual encounter does not have to include tears. If your husband is just plain bad at sex, I have nothing but sympathy for you. Men are very sensitive about their penises. It’s very hard to talk to them directly about how they use it. Japanese people often assume that Americans are super direct about everything, we’re not. The Russians are. You could probably tell a Russian man he was bad in bed and he wouldn’t get upset or take it personally. He’d just wonder why you expected anything positive out of life in the first place. For women, sex is 90% mental and 10% discovery. (You want to put what WHERE?!) I think your safest bet is to practice getting your head in the right space for sexy time. Try to practice fantasizing about things that will really get your juices flowing. Picture him paying all bills on time, for once. (That’s in my spank bank but you might want to aim for something a little more realistic and attainable.) This will take time to figure out and that’s ok. You’re married, you’ve got nothing but time. I suggest trying sex with a side of intimacy. It’s an item on the menu more exotic in Japan than whale, plus you won’t have to worry about Sea Shepherd documenting and live streaming your sexual exploration for the world to see. Good Luck, Gaijin Girl