Nov 3, 2006

In Which an Old Lady Shows me the Sandals

So, some of the coworkers and I went out for Korean barbecue last night, and I've got say that the stuff is absolutely brilliant. Here's the setup: You and your friends sit around this metal-topped table with these holes in the middle of it. The holes are resceptacles for these mini-barbecue pit things that are inserted into your table. So, this guy who looked more like a welder than a chef in his leather apron and gloves came by and gave us two of these mini-firepits that sizzled away right in front of us.
The fun part is that you can order big plates of raw meat (and the occasional veggie) and roast them yourself right there. It's awesome! Seriously- you get to sit there, eating meat and drinking beer, and experience the ever-stimulating activity of setting things on fire. No matter how advanced our various forms of entertainment ever become, I don't think that anything will ever be able to truly replace watching something go *Foom!* as it's licked by flames. I'm sure there's some atavistic evolutionary principal at work here, some serious Clan of the Cave Bear thing going on. I have no complaints.
I also got the opportunity to try some new and different meat foods, which was cool. In addition to traditional (well, traditional by Western standards) cow body parts, we also had tongue and stomach, which were actually quite tasty, especially with this Korean hot sauce stuff. It was organ-liscious.
Anyway, at some point I got up to go to the bathroom. I even got to used a basic Japanese phrase: "Toire wa doko des ka?" I asked? The old lady who seemed to be the manager pointed me at the door, and I proceeded to open it. And, naturally, began to walk in.
Now, I'm not wearing shoes at this point. I've doffed them before sitting down as one does over here.
And out of nowhere, the old lady is suddenly grabbing my arm, saying something in Japanese, and gesturing at something on the ground. I have no idea what's going on. Why is this old lady trying to manhandle me? Am I going into the women's room by mistake?
Nope. I forgot the sandals. Apparently one puts on sandals before going to the bathroom. Makes sense, when you think about it. So, this old lady is still clutching my arm, talking in Japanese, and gesturing at the sandals. My coworkers are at our table, laughing uproariously. As are the guys in suits at the next table. As are the couple across the room. And the guy who looks like a welder.
"Sumi ma sen," (I think that means excuse me or sorry or something, haven't figured it out yet) I said as I put on the sandals, and went into the lavatory.
When I got back, my coworkers were still giggling, and British Girl (the one whom I went to Kurashki with) said "We were wondering if you'd do that."
"Everyone forgets the sandals," said Mr. Ecaudor, "she thought you might notice them, but I was all like, 'nah, he'll forget them like everyone does.'"
So, yeah- between my lack of drinking tolerance and my ignorance of local footwear customs, and who knows what else, I'm in store for all sorts of cultural snafus. It's like I'm Balki from Perfect Strangers. You know, the "Hi-larious Immigrant Character" type who says things like "I love America! Is wonderful for the living in!" That's me right now, except not as patriotic or Eastern European, but just as culturally deluded, overstimulated, and amusingly alien.


Eight-and-a-Half-Tails said...

Hooray for lighting of meat on fire. Fufill your promethean desires! Just beware of angry old Japanese women. Anime has taught me that the older Japanese women get, the more badass martial-arts techniques they aquire.

Kristin said...

Ha ha! I got lectured by an old lady in Italy when I was there for something. It's kind of funny when you're in a foreign country and people assume you know exactly what they're telling you and you haven't a clue. Also, horray for setting meat foods on fire. That sounds awesome.

Anonymous said...

heh he. I must say, while the Japanese are quite advanced in many areas of cultural development, they still lack basic aiming skills. This includes women.

EEEEWWWWWW you were going to get your socks all soaked in some sararly man's missing tinkle (a phrase my sararly man students nearly coined).

sumimasen means both 'excuse me' and 'I'm sorry'
if you want a straight up 'I'm sorry,' try 'Gomenasai'

or, as my 7 year-olds often tell me
'machigaita!' I made a mistake!

yes llama boy. yes you did. but don't worry because it will always end in drunkenness.