I am fortunate that I can easily multi-task. For instance, participating in an anti-nuke demonstration, while also enjoying the over-abundance of police. My favorite moment was watching them run in the heavy rain. Pure pleasure!
It’s easy to make hideous mistakes when you are learning Japanese. Switch a vowel or add an extra syllable and you’re innocent remark has quickly turned unseemly. Here’s two examples.
A few months back, my sister-in-law, who loves shoes, was visiting. The expression on her face made it clear that what I thought was a complement had come out terribly wrong.
「けつはきれいです」 Ketsu wa kirei desu.
What I meant to say was, “I like your shoes.” 「靴はきれいです」Kutsu wa kirei desu. Unfortunately, ketsu means “ass.”
Another time, finishing ceramics class, I cheerfully told my father-in-law, 「お触りました」Osawarimashita.
What I meant to say was, “I am done.” 「終わりました」Owarimashita. Both in-laws and my husband stared at me, and I realized I did it again. Fortunately, father-in-law has a sense of humor, and demonstrated “osawarimashita” (“touch” or “grope,” made strangely formal by the addition of “o”) by pinching my ass.
As I stumble my way learning Japanese, I am fortunate to have such a welcoming (and forgiving) family.
The holidays remind me how fortunate I am to avoid almost all parties, especially work and family-related. And, until moving to Tokyo, I almost never drank.
Here’s a list of what one New York Times author has overheard at holiday parties. Doesn’t it make you feel safer to be at home in front of the screen?
- “We’re not really budgeted for a vacation this year, what with the exchange rate and my gambling addiction.”
- “I have to apologize for not reading your new book yet. It’s just that the last one was so awful.”
- “That’s a great outfit! It really shows off your breasts.”
- “What I really want is a job where you don’t worry so much about money and prestige. Are there any openings at your place?”
- “So I told human resources flat out, it’s not sexual harassment if I can prove I’m impotent.”
- “Has anyone ever told you that you have the air of a much more successful person?”
- “Sometimes accidental electrocution can be a blessing in disguise, but try telling that to the other mothers in the playgroup.”
- “Did you have some work done? Because, you know, too little too late.”
- “I don’t usually drink this much, but you’re insufferable.”
- “I had pants on when I came in, right?”
- “Aren’t holiday parties great?”
What have you over-heard at holiday parties? I am counting down the hours until the Xmas music is turned off in Tokyo. .