Some things I noticed
I noticed long ago how rude and violent Japanese are on the commuter trains, exposing the myth of Japanas a harmonious, polite and peaceful society. In particular, it’s the women. It’s always the women - especially the old ones. They are always the ones pushing to get on the trains and rushing to squeeze into the one remaining, narrow space on the bench. They are the ones using up bench space so that their shopping bags can sit comfortably. And, when it comes time to deboard, they are the ones moving slowly and in everyone’s way, the complete opposite of their boarding behavior. And they are oblivious.
Obliviousness is common among Japanese. I think because it is taken as politeness. Ignoring others in this tightly packed, crowded society is counted as polite deference. For Westerners, however, being ignored is a hallmark of disrespect and rudeness. The extent to which a Westerner might react to being ignored was shown in December 2005 when 21-year-old U.S. Seaman William Reese, in a fit of rage, murdered a Japanese woman in Yokosukaafter she ignored his attempt to speak to her.
I’ve noticed that there are a lot more spoons in my kitchen’s cutlery drawer than there are knives and forks. Why is that? Maybe we use spoons for much more than either knives or forks. Or, maybe the dishwasher is like the laundry machine. Just as socks get lost in the laundry, knives and forks get lost in the wash, leaving a surplus of spoons.
I’ve noticed that there are a lot more cups and glasses in my tableware cupboard than my family needs.
I’ve noticed that I have more shirts than any other kind of clothes in my wardrobe. I have formal working shirts, casual denim shirts, sweatshirts, and T-shirts (which pass for undershirts). Other clothes for my torso - like sweaters - I also have in abundance.
I’ve noticed that the letter “s” is very common in English, and there are more things that begin with an “s” than there are practically of any other letter. “B” and “c” are common. But “s” takes the prize hands down.
I’ve noticed that I like to sleep on my left side. What does it mean? And, although I am right-handed, people I grew up with always told me that I held and shot with an ice hockey stick as a left-hander. Well, I don’t know about that. I held and shot as a right-hander as far as I could tell.
I have a long tongue and I can touch my nose with my tongue. But I’ve noticed that if I let my whiskers grow and sport a mustache, then I cannot do it. It is because with a mustache my tongue has to reach over the hairs to reach my nose - a greater distance than if I had a bald lip - and I just can’t manage it.
I’ve noticed that there are a lot more males on the commuter trains in the morning than there are females, and that the reverse is true in the evenings. Where are all the women in the morning, and where do they all come from - suddenly, as far as I can tell - in the evening? To entertain myself during commutes I think of “Gilligan’s Island.” I look at all the males and females in the train carriage, in close proximity with each other but politely playing the ignoring game, and try to imagine who would make mating pairs if we were stranded on an isolated, deserted island.
I’ve noticed that people don’t know the difference between Coke and Diet Coke. I drink a lot of the latter, but absolutely none of the former. But when people see what I am drinking they ask me - or, more often than not they tell me - that I like Coca Cola and that I am putting a lot of sugar inside myself.
Not at all. I drink Diet Coke, which a completely different drink than Coca Cola, and I am putting no sugar whatsoever into my body. Granted, I am putting a lot of artificial sweetener into it, but that’s not what they say. Reliably, people don’t recognize what I am saying.
Like the Coke/Diet Coke confusion there are many other chronic daily confusions: people habitually confuse sex with love; money with success; marriage with happiness; selfishness with virtue; schooling with education; work with employment; isolation with loneliness; religion with faith; courtesy with friendship; law with justice; knowledge with intelligence; forgiveness with innocence; tolerance with acceptance; democracy with freedom; victory with peace, and much more. The list is long. The confusion of might with right is an old one that never dies and is as active in the world today as it ever was.
Since puberty I have periodically suffered debilitating migraine attacks - about once every three years. I have noticed not only that they are becoming less frequent with age (which is normal), but that they always occur at 3:00 a.m. on a Saturday. I go to bed normally on Friday night, not feeling ill at all. Then I wake up in a Japanese hospital because my wife called for an ambulance in the middle of the night. In Canada - where Dad was a doctor - while he was alive and I lived at home he just shot me up with a mixture of Gravol andDemerol and put me to sleep for 15-hours whenever an attack occurred. I woke up groggy and with a dull headache, but not crippled, which I otherwise would have been.