Since arriving in Japan, I have spoken very little English, and even less Japanese (since my current vocabulary is limited to a few dozen words).
So as strange of an introduction as it was, it was nice when an older Japanese man stepped into my train compartment, and said, “Welcome to Japan!” (yes, I stand out).
His English came slowly, but I could tell he had a working grasp of the language. Our conversation began innocently enough, “Where are you from?”, “How long have you been here?”, and the like, but then our friend began to express his interest in American girls upon learning my country of origin.
“American girls, so pretty!” became his mantra as I attempted to steer our conversation away from the realm of underage girls. His two favorite American girls? Lady Gaga and Paris Hilton. Skeptical as to who on the train could understand our conversation, I proceeded cautiously as he dove into another demographic he was quite fond of.
“American high school girls…make my…my heart so…so hot. I love…American high school girls.”
By this point I was hoping that there was some sort of translation problem occurring, but something told me that this man knew what he was talking about. Amid my attempts to deflect the conversation in another direction, he continued to serve up reasons for his infatuation with American high school girls (short skirts and their pleasing faces were among the top reasons).
With some relief the train soon arrived at my stop, and I bid my new friend farewell.
Little did I know, that this would not be the end of our history together.
THE SECOND MEETING
I am taking the train to the city once more when who but our friend wanders past me (somehow not noticing the heavily bearded white man), and takes a seat across from a young schoolgirl (I know she’s a schoolgirl because all schoolchildren wear uniforms in Japan).
I, of course, understood absolutely nothing of their conversation, but it appeared to be going in the direction of my initial conversation with our friend – incredibly inappropriate.
How do I know this? The woman across the aisle from them appeared to be interested in the conversation as well, and she was giving this man the evilest, evil-eye I have ever seen. It was frightening.
As our friend laughed and the young girl shifted uncomfortably in her seat, I wondered to myself what this he could possibly be saying. I must practice my Japanese.
Approaching my stop, my friend prepared to leave as well. Bidding the young girl adieu, he rose and finally spotted me. “OH! Hello! Hi!,” he said – very excited to see me. We stepped off the train together and had a quick exchange as we walked into the station.
He was off to buy some CD, but before we parted ways I negotiated a photo. Say hello!
THREE TIMES, NOW?
Again, on the train to the city, surrounded by people I wholeheartedly wish I could communicate with, but cannot, who do I see precariously making his way towards me, one step at a time down the shaky train car, but our friend the English Speaking Japanese Stranger.
“HELLO!” he shouts at what I can only assume was the top of his lungs. We again delve into forced and broken English conversation. This time he begins on a rather depressing note by telling me that he has no Japanese friends.
Suddenly, I feel guilty for all of the assumptions I have drawn following our previous two encounters. He tells me that because of this he usually only speaks with foreigners and that he is glad to have seen me again.
Wow, I’m an ass.
However, then he starts to tell me about the two Filipino girls who live in his building and how beautiful they are. And then, yes, how hot they make his heart. I again become skeptical of his intentions, and he now expresses his wish for me to go to the Philippines and, “meet many Filipino girls.”
In addition to the Philippines he also, “wish[es] for [me] to visit…People’s Republic of China Taiwan…Taiwanese girls…very beautiful.” He goes on to say similar things about France, Vietnam, and Korea before we again arrive at our stop.
We step off the train and go our separate ways, and that was the last time I saw him.
Perhaps our paths will cross again someday.