Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001
Subject: Gossip away!
We get the Japan times (an English newspaper) every day, so we get a reasonable amount of news regarding global events. Plus, the news is on TV in English twice a day... but I'm getting a bit tired of watching people say that nothing has changed 20 different ways and that nobody knows anything more than they did a month ago.
I've been settling in fine. I finally set up a meeting with a university student to do a language exchange. He's lived in Edmonton for a year, and his English is great, so I hope he won't get too frustrated with my beginner Japanese. He's also getting a car and has been forthcoming with offers of lifts to places, so I might be nicely mobile.
My housemate, The English, really a very decent guy, has been living with his girlfriend, The Canadian, from Vancouver, since his room was flooded during the last typhoon and now smells of gerbil chips (his floor is covered in tatami mats, which are made of straw). They're going to England and then Canada together after their contracts run out in two months. They have to keep their relationship secret at work, however, since employees aren't supposed to get involved with one another. The Canadian lives in the apartment two floors above us and The English usually shows up in his pyjamas in the morning to eat breakfast, shower and brush his teeth before he goes back upstairs.
My other housemate is a bit interesting. He's nice enough (he showed me around town for the first few days), but he always seems a little tense. He had a "hot date" the other night with a girl he met at a Halloween party on the weekend.
The Halloween party was rather interesting. It was the first time I'd gone to a place where all the Japanese girls present weren't already attached to a Gaijin. I was wearing my cool Jet Li-style black kung-fu suit (the only "costume" I have here), so I was expecting to stand out in some way, but it was a little more than I'd anticipated. I was a walking photo-op, which I guess wasn't too much of a surprise. "May I take your picture?" "Take a picture with me!"
That was the first thing. But I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear that I had no idea what to do when they started aggressively going after me. I was honestly clueless, and I had these huge gaps of "I really don't know what the hell to say to this person, because she just walked up and randomly complimented me." They all spoke English to me, too, which was a little weird. Some girl in a cowboy hat complimented me for not dancing like the "crazy people" on the dance floor, and I subsequently had no idea what to say and didn't really care to talk to her. When I did get on the dance floor, I was quickly surrounded by some girls, some of whom got a little closer than I'd anticipated... and later on some other girl in a Chinese dress complimented me on my dancing, and the irritating part is that I can't tell if it was just an empty compliment. She's actually the one that my housemate ended up going out with (they ended up talking later... I think I was distracted by the possibility of leaving the place to go to a club at the time).
I ended up going to a little club with a pair of Gaijin and one of their girlfriends (the Halloween party was winding down and the music kinda sucked anyway). The club was about the size of a walk-in closet, but the music was good, and people continued to get a kick out of my kung-fu suit, even though they had no idea why I was wearing it. I talked to two girls outside the door using the classic inter-language exchange method: they asked questions in broken English, I replied in broken Japanese. I had another "is this an empty compliment" moment there, too. Get this: they asked me if I were a MODEL. That's just crazy. And the whole time I wasn't sure what to do since I didn't know what they were looking for, and I wasn't really into the idea of taking anybody home with me (30-min walk anyway).
So that's the gossip on my end. Girls here like to fish for Gaijin and I don't know what to do about it. I think I'm socially adept but romantically awkward.
Anyway, I'll catch you later (maybe next week when I get e-mail access again), and until then keep well.