I live in Tokyo now but most of my friends and family do not. The main idea here is that I can tell these people about interesting things that happen and are seen.

Friday, August 04, 2006

There Is A Phrase I Really Need To Learn

I have decided that I am going to behave reasonably seriously about learning the Japanese language for a period of time, e.g. I am going to learn about those dumb squiggles they have instead of letters. Let it not be said that I will not engage with other cultures, their backwards customs, and their obscene, jabbering parodies of speech. I am a dude for the '90s.

Thus far I only really have basic manners, "please", "thank you", "oh dang I didn't mean to step on you AGAIN", etc - the sorts of things I never really bothered to say to people in English. Admittedly, basic pleasantries seem to go pretty far in Japan - but this evening I discovered a glaring, awful gap in my arsenal of stock phrases. I desperately need to learn the equivalent of "nah sweet bro don't worry about it nah man just leave it oh nah seriously bro - just... just forget it".

Here's what happened. I went to a local superette to buy various reagents that I later transformed into a soggy, weeping mass for my dinner. As I made my purchases - secretly revelling in my success at "going to the supermarket", planning a triumphal parade to rival that of bygone Caesars - something came unsprung in my wallet and a number of coins spilled out. So, I picked them up. The apalling thing is that the checkout attendant had heard something rattle off behind him, so, he immediately dropped to all fours and started searching for the wayward coin.

I mean, he had his face right down against the floor, peering under the ice-cream freezer. He was lifting up bags of bananas, his palms and knees were greyed with the dust of the floor. All the while, I'm standing there, aghast, jaw creaking open and shut to no avail, realizing that none of the versions of "excuse me" I have mastered is going to cut it in this situation. Wondering if I should just walk away, knowing that I cannot.

The crowning obscenity; he did find the coin, and it was a 1 yen piece. JAPAN - WHY DO YOU GOT TO HAVE A 1 YEN PIECE. The amount of anything that you can realistically buy for 1 yen is: nothing. I mean, I saw a small piece of driftwood for sale at Tokyu Hands today and it was still 154 yen (admittedly its suchness was hell of powerful). Needless to say, nearly everything costs like 117 yen or 273 yen, so you inevitably accrue these pissy little coins which you will almost never bother to spend. Hell, the smallest denomination acceptable to a vending machine is 10 yen. Surely this is eroding Japan's economy somehow.

Personally, I am saving up my 1 yen pieces to make a cosh.

Anyway, when I find out what the "nah it's cool just leave it" phrase is I will post it here so that others need not forfeit another's dignity for a single, useless yen.


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