I Say the Darndest Things
Sometimes, the horse gets you.
No afternoon classes, nice weather, and complete and total boredom drove me outdoors one day, to interact with the kids during their sports clubs. This is usually a pretty enjoyable activity, as I can talk freely with them outside of class lessons, and even play along with them from time to time.
I ran into a group of about 10 girls from the badminton club. We exchanged some of our typical banter, ending with the usual.
Them: “English is very difficult!” (said in English)
Me: “Maybe. But if you keep studying hard, you can do it!” I gave them with my “nice guy” pose of a toothy-grin and an exaggerated thumbs-up motion. This is usually enough to get the kids to smile at least, but today these girls weren’t phased in the least.
“You do that way too often,” one of them said. “You really need a new thing.”
Huh. Tough crowd.
I have been here for almost 2 years; I can see where the novelty is wearing off. I admitted defeat, and asked them if they had any ideas for my next pose. They had none. “Isn’t that your job?” one of them asked. Yikes. I already feel bad for her future house-broken husband; that bastard just doesn’t have a chance. I considered using “Gets!” but decided I had way too much dignity left to sink to that level.
Anyone who’s been in Japan in the last few years already knows what “Gets!” is, but for those of you who haven’t, it’s basically a cheesy grin, both hands displaying the universal gun finger positions, while saying “Gets!” I don’t understand it either, but it was wildly popular a while back. Oh, and the “pioneer” of this move, a comedian named “Dandy,” looks like the ungodly result of Michael Jackson and Carrot Top’s mating. Yes, it is every bit as horrible as you imagine.
I tried the overused peace sign along with a cheesy “Yayy!” (think of Ken’s win pose from Street Fighter), but this was also met with blank stares. OK, moving on, I tried the peace sign again, with a modified sound effect. I was thinking something along the lines of a sparkling effect, new and exciting. So I boldly thrust out my peace sign and said “Ching!” Here is where the girls badminton club nearly died that day from too much laughing.
Another quick Japanese lesson. I said “Ching!” thinking of a ching-type sound effect. You know, like “Mr. Clean! *ching* Sparkle!” However, you don’t really hear the “g” at the end…so to Japanese ears, I said “chin,” which is slang for “penis.” So, in effect, I thrust out my peace sign, and with a big toothy grin, excitedly said “penis!” to a group of 15 year old girls.
If this were America, I’d probably be writing this from jail right now. Luckily it’s Japan, where declaring “penis!” to underage girls is A-OK.
It took me a minute to realize what I’d said and the staggering implications of it all. After the girls (and subsequently, I) recovered, I begged, I pleaded them to forget I ever said it. “I didn’t mean that! That never happened! Cultural misunderstanding! PLEASE FORGET THAT!” and “Don’t tell your parents.” They nodded OK, but I kind of knew an everlasting impression had been made.
I went back on my rounds, and as I circled back around and encountered the girls badminton club once more, they greeted me by thrusting out their peace signs, grinning heartily, and exclaiming “Chin!”
Dear Lord, what have I done?
I took a minute to repent in silence, but before I could say anything one girl took the forefront, gave me the peace sign again, and said, in English, “I love chin! Oh, you love chin too!”
For the entire week, the girls from badminton club would, while grinning madly, give me the peace sign when they saw me and, if they could get away with it, excitedly exclaim “chin!”
Somewhere, Lucifer is busy creating the 10th Circle of Hell, specifically for me. Given that I am now a man who has somehow encouraged 15-year old Japanese girls to thrust out the peace sign and proclaim “penis!” I don’t blame him.