Today I realized that being in Japan and speaking decent Japanese has a lot of parallels to being a movie star. Take any known musician, and they are probably stopped numerous times a day to be told how amazing they are, and how their music has changed so and so's life, etc. The first few times, they must be absolutely flabbergasted and amazed, but after a while the initial euphoria wears off. Eventually that musician gets the same comments, the same questions, etc. He gets tired of it, yet at the same time, he can't tell them to bugger off; because the person is praising him, trying to take advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity to tell somebody how they were moved by their work. How can you possibly be a dick to somebody who has something like that to say? So the musician doesn't tell said fan to bugger off, nor does he get all excited, because he's heard it all a million times. What does he learn to do? He learns to politely smile and tell them "thank you".
That's where I'm at. Modesty aside, my spoken Japanese is pretty decent. Japanese make it a point to make sure they aren't simply giving me the polite "your Japanese is good", they continue on to say how shocked and amazed they are I can speak their mother tongue so well. Then come the barrage of the same questions I hear day in day out: "How long have you studied?" "How long have you been in Japan?" "Do you have a Japanese girlfriend?" "...want one?".
Okay, I made the last one up. But in any case, I have canned answers ready for all of these questions, and I'm polite enough to make it sound like it's the first time I've been asked these things. Hell, at least a musician's fan prefaces their comments with "I know you've been told this a million times but"...
In another completely related story, I was startled when coming home tonight. For those of you that know me, I'm easily startled. If you come up behind me and start speaking without my knowledge, I'll jump. Well, a girl certainly got the jump on me tonight. And I damned near reached out and punched her in the face.
Coming back to my apartment around 10pm, there weren't a lot of people on my route home. I cross through the train station to get home, and usually the only people around are those waiting for their train. Crossing over the tracks, there is a set of stairs and an escalator, which is painfully slow. If somebody is descending the escalator and just standing on it, it's much faster to take the adjacent stairway. Heading towards the escalator, I saw somebody already making their way down while remaining stationary, so I took the stairs to the right. All the while I had my headphones in, so I couldn't hear a damned thing. As soon as I got to the bottom of the stairs this girl pops out of nowhere (well she came from the left) staring at my face from about half a foot away. I jump, she just kinda shrugs it off and keeps walking.
So I suppose if she's writing her own blog entry, this is how it would go:
"I was walking home last night, and as I was going down the escalator, I see this weird, human-like thing pass me on the right. It looks human, but its eyes are far to big and the way he walked was really weird. Deciding I only had on chance to see what this creature looked like from the front, I rushed down the escalator cut him off as he was about to make it down the last step, and looked at him straight in the face. I scared him! He jumped back and his eyes got really wide. (and by wide, I mean HUGE. His eyes were really round already). Maybe it was the first time he's ever seen a human? Welcome to earth!"