My friend Kelly says I should get a Japanese boyfriend so I can really feel a part of society here, not always be on the outside. Kelly was originally from China, and we speak in English (sprinkled with Japanese and Mandarin), because I first knew her when she was working for a couple of years in the U.S. She’s been in Japan on and off for about fifteen years.
“What are my chances of finding candidates?” I ask. “In my approximate age range, I mean.”
“Hm,” she says, leaning her head to the side and thinking. “The problem is, people don’t get divorced here. They don’t take marriage so seriously, the way Americans do. If their marriage is unhappy, the guys just stay at work longer every day.”
That was an interesting angle on our rampant divorce; it’s because we Americans are serious about marriage, not because we take it too lightly.
Kelly’s original Chinese name is Zhang He, and in Japanese she’s Cho-san. Sometimes to her boss, she’s just “Oi!” (“Hey!”) or “Ano…” (“Uh…”). When you live many places in the world, you get less attached to identifying with a single name. Though, Hey and Uh seem extreme.
Kelly said she shocked and horrified her Japanese classmates during her early days here by wiping her wet hands on her pants. This made me feel better about some of my shockingly barbaric ways, such as standing around with my hands in my pockets.