Mirrored with permission from Outpost Nine and Azrael
Howe Sweet Home
I went back home over Spring Vacation. I had hoped to go to some other country on an exciting vacation, or if not that, my backup plan of closing the storm shutters and sleeping for a week. Mom however, sensed my ANGST! from clear across the Pacific (now you see where I get my senses from) and brought me home. Which, really, was the best thing I could've done.
Being in Japan starts to dull one's senses after a while. Things that are weird no longer seem so, and things that are ordinary become absolutely amazing. For example, I got off at the airport, and I remember my first thought as I came through customs was "Whoa....black people. Huh, look at that. HOLY SHIT, IS THAT A MEXICAN?!" See, this is no big deal for any of you, but for me this was an event.
After meeting with my parents, we went immediately to a restaurant where I had some good 'ol American steak. One might say I tore up some steak, again.
I also noticed people weren't wearing surgical masks over their faces. In Japan, when people get sick they put on the masks, I suppose in an effort to keep their germs to themselves. Having been here for a year and a half, I completely forgot how fucking weird that was. I remember when Michael Jackson did it and we all thought he was a freak. Well, he still is a freak, but now I don' t mind the mask so much. Now I understand why Japan still loves MJ, the mask and the apparent rampant pedophilia are nothing new to them.
I'd brought with me the farewell letters I'd gotten from the sannensei before graduation to show to my parents. Mom mused over the drawings they'd made, and after stopping at Anpanman, she noted, "Wow. All the Japanese cartoons sure do look like little penises, don't they?" I personally don't see the Anpanman -> Penis connection, but Mom has no idea what a stammering and significant comment she inadvertantly made about Japanese culture. Dad meanwhile was a bit freaked over the love confessions from the girls, and I had to explain that I wasn't doing anything inappropriate with my students (I tastefully failed to mention the Snuzzlebunnies incident to either of them). He also freaked out a bit when I had to tell him that the marriage proposals had actually come from the boys, not the girls.
It'd be so cool if I still had my sanity, and all of this shit was still weird, but it's not.
Oh, and food! Man, I enjoyed steak and Mexican food and REAL pizza, the stuff that's hard to come by in Japan. Any friend I met with who said "Hey, let's go get some Japanese food" got BITCH SLAPPED THE FUCK DOWN without hesistation. I've heard this is kind of common though, other JET friends of mine have said that when they went home for a visit their friends were like "Hey, let's get some sushi!" Now, I dunno where your train of thought is going there, but if I've been living in Japan for over a year, Japanese food is the LAST thing I'd want. Would you do this to anyone else? Would you pull someone out of a burning building and say "Hey, are you allright? Would you like a cigarette?" Would you rescue someone from a deserted island, then suggest a trip to the beach? I just don't understand.
I went to dinner with my parents one night, and I was talking about how the Japanese like to eat ALL THE PARTS of the chicken. They don't waste anything - hearts, wings, cartilage, feet, beaks, the entire chicken gets cooked up and eaten at some point. My Dad then hit me with "Well then, Japanese people are a lot like black people in that regard." ...Sometimes I forget he's from the South. Then one night, I with hanging out with my best friend and we ordered a pizza. I answered the door and took the pizza from the delivery boy and paid him with tip. I came back to find my friend shaking her head at me in disgust. "...What?" I ask, completely oblivious to whatever it is I did. "I can't believe you just bowed to the delivery guy." She says. ...I did what?! I didn't even realize I'd done it. I really have been living in Japan for too long.
The night before my plane left, I went to a baseball game. The regular season hadn't started yet, it was just exhibition (A's vs Giants), but it was still a bajillion zillion times better than Japanese baseball. In Japanese baseball, the strategy is to get a man on base...then bunt. They bunt with no outs, one out, two outs, runners on first, second, third, the bases loaded, it doesn't matter. The pitcher bunts, the power hitter bunts, the leadoff hitter bunts, they might as well call it Buntball and just be done with it. The funny thing is, the Japanese almost sort of think that they invented baseball. A friend of mine asked why do the Japanese always bunt, and I told him "Are you kidding?! Sacrificing yourself for the good of the team, really was there any other choice?"
When the national anthem played, I nearly cried. "Kimigayo"'s nice, but it's no Star Spangled Banner. A few rows down, a group of guys who were drunk, before the first inning, were heckling the players, and a group of college students in the next section over talked loudly about frat parties and drinking games.
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.
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