We were driving along, discussing Japanese eyelash salons, when Akemi brought up an example of someone with perfectly lush eyelashes. “Do you know Barbie?”she asked me.
Akemi has a habit of gauging my understanding of various matters by invariably asking “Do you know…?”. “Do you know pumpkin pie?” or “Do you know Obama?” or “Do you know toothpick?”. “Of course I know Barbie,”I said. “So, a lot of Japanese women go to these eyelash salons?”
“And men too,”she informed. “What’s Barbie’s boyfriend’s name?”
“No,”she admonished as if I’d just said the most adorably silly thing. “That’s Rika-chan’s boyfriend!”
As it turns out, Rika-chan (aka Licca-chan) is the Japanese version of Barbie that, says Wikipedia, tends “toward a more Japanese body in terms of height and features” which I take it to mean she doesn’t have boobs the size of volleyballs. To be honest, if I was Ken and faced with the choice, I’d probably go for Rika too.
I’m endlessly fascinated by many of the things Akemi takes for granted that she is surprised, occasionally downright shocked, to discover are very different here in the West. Like her refusal to believe me when I told her that only the Japanese consider corn and mayonnaise suitable pizza toppings, or her insistence that the green traffic light is actually blue.
At a Japanese McDonalds, you can order the likes of the ebi (shrimp) burger, the teriyaki burger, and the McPork.
When it comes to building snowmen, the Japanese use only two large snowballs instead of the Western three.
In Japan, blood type is considered to determine personality and it’s common for people to list A, B, O, or AB in their profiles alongside their astrological signs.
On Valentine’s Day in Japan, it is custom for women to give men chocolate. Men return the favor on White Day (March 14th).
There are no extra innings in Japanese baseball.
Some of the things that can make you appear like an incredible lout and generally offend those around you in Japan include: blowing your nose in public, failing to remove your shoes before entering someone’s home, pointing, talking loudly, and being late.
Japanese curry is brown and much sweeter than its Indian and Thai counterparts.
A little while ago, Robert Cooper dropped me an email to offer some kind words on “Downfall”, my short story that appears in the superhero-themed anthology Masked (and this month’s Book of the Month Club pick! You’ve got a week to finish up!). I don’t know what was more surprising – the fact that he was kind enough to take the time to read the story, or the fact that he was able to resist the temptation to give me notes for old time’s sake. Well, I can honestly say the writers’ room hasn’t been the same without him and he has been greatly missed – but I’m pleased to hear he’ll be back in town for a few days next week to put the finishing touches on his masterpiece, Malice, and host the big opening week Sunday night NFL game pitting the Washington Redskins against his Dallas Cowboys.
Yes, the NFL kicks off its 2010 season Thursday night and I am looking forward to its return like a kid looks forward to Christmas or a shark looks forward to Senior Swim Week. Like my love for my comic books, my love of the NFL goes way back. I’d wake up early every Sunday morning, finish up anything that needed doing, then park myself in front of the t.v. from the 11:00 a.m. pre-game show to the 11:00 p.m.-ish conclusion of the late night game. On occasions when my mother insisted we eat as a family, I would take the seat at the dinner table that gave me an unobstructed view of the t.v. in the living room. throughout high school, my computer was located right beside the basement television, allowing me to multi-task homework and Monday Night Football. Back then, the fact that I was a Raiders fan living in a region of the east coast whose local affiliates focused on the then crap trifecta of the Patriots, Jets, and Giants did nothing to diminish my love of the game. Today, I consider myself fortunate to be able to simultaneously watch not one, not two, but every televised game thanks to my local satellite provider’s NFL package.
I’ve also subscribed to the NCAA college football package so that I could root for my newly adopted home-away-from-home team: The Georgia Bulldogs!