“I have a headache,”I informed Akemi as I picked her up following her afternoon English class.

“Do you know what that’s called?”she asked me.

The Japanese seemingly have a term for everything, so I was expecting something along the lines of atama na atsui (hot head) or tayo nemutai (sun sleepiness) or even kanso nomiso itai (dry brain pain).  Instead, she smiled knowingly and offered an English variation: “Separation anxiety.”

Presumably, having been reunited with her after our ninety minutes apart, I’ll be feeling better in no time.


So, last night, Akemi and I attended a book launch by Chef Chuck Hughes (Chuck Hughes) whose food show and rustic, comfort food recipes have long been a hit at our place.  Chuck hails from my hometown of Montreal and, whenever I head back east to visit mom and sis, we always make it a point to visit his restaurant in Old Montreal, Garde Manger.

About two hundred people showed for the signing at West Restaurant. We got there early, parked ourselves by the narrow hall leading out from the kitchen, and nabbed the appetizers as they passed by on their way to the dining room: pulled pork burgers, oysters on the half shell, cocktail prawn, duck fat fries, and other goodies.  While munching and waiting for Chuck to draw his trademark lobsters on our respective cookbooks, we wound up befriending a couple of other attendees.  “How did you end up talking to them?”Akemi asked me on the way home.

“How do I ever end up talking to anyone?”I asked.  “I just started talking to them.”  It’s been my experience that, more often than not, people tend to answer back and a conversation invariably ensues.

What about y’all?  Do you tend to strike up conversations with complete strangers?  If so, does your significant other find it odd?  If not, why not?  And how do you react when a complete stranger engages you in conversation?  Chatty or suspicious?  Do tell.

Anyway, on our way out, I stopped to ask the bartender a question about the bourbon selection that evolved into a twenty minute discussion about Tokyo and my favorite watering hole: Star Bar (http://starbar.jp/).  I miss that place.

Well, you’ve all weighed in with your suggestions so here are the four nominees for our next (after next week’s Despicable Me) movie review:

Polls are open until Sunday night, so get your votes in!

33 thoughts on “July 19, 2013: My Japanese expressions! A cook book signing! And a movie poll!

  1. I usually have no problems striking up a conversation or answering when someone else starts one. I actually just came back from a week of volunteering where I had to do just that with any number of complete strangers! Including having to diplomatically tell a few people to please “stay on the trail”, i.e. don’t walk on the alpine plants! (in the White Mountains, NH) They’re usually pretty good about it and just don’t know that the plant they just crushed will probably take about 50 years to recover.

    I voted for Independence Day for the movie. I think we should do the original Stargate movie at some time, but later.

    Oh, by the way – I’m home. For a while this time!

  2. I don’t talk to strangers. Too shy. Also probably why I don’t have a significant other. 😛

  3. You may not have personally worked on it. But I was reading the list, saw Stargate, and thought, list… what list? Stargate supercedes everything else. Interesting though that both Independance Day and Stargate are options, both being from Dean Devlin, thought that interesting.

  4. Not only do I strike up conversations with people, but I tend to leave with their entire life story and more often than not their email address and we still email each other to this day. I even held the hand of a woman who was coming to Houston for her grandchild’s funeral. I should not have been sitting next to her. I was leaving from Orlando where I had a really wonderful vacation with my friends (girls’ trip). I got to talking to the ticket agents of the airline and upon hearing my story of my fab trip and why it was so important for me to get away, they bumped me up to first class, at which time my mouth dropped and I mouthed to them, “are you serious?” So they had fun being allowed to bestow a kindness upon me. This woman was being all sorts of rude to the flight attendants. As we got to talking, I discovered why. So I listened. And I asked questions. The flight attendants looked at me often and we exchanged glances that I surely took as a “THANK YOU” to me. Sometimes people act rude like that when they are grieving. By the time we landed in Houston, I pointed out the window to show her a rainbow (I KNOW–it sounds like a sappy movie, doesn’t it)? She was in such pain and I knew that pain. This was still at a time when they allowed family and friends to meet you at the gate. She insisted I come over and meet her family. I do believe things happen for reasons sometimes and I think I was meant to be there to help, or to save the flight attendants from killing her.

    Another one that stands out in my mind is on my trip home from Los Angeles from the American Idol finale trip. I met this young man named Donnell. I think it was the LA to Phoenix leg of the trip. He was headed to Atlanta. He was a musician. But he had this old soul. Wise, wise, wise beyond his years. I told him he needed to be mentoring kids. After I got back, he and I exchanged words of wisdom each day in emails. I haven’t talked to him in awhile. I think I’ll shoot him an email.

    And I think Akemi needs to be bottled for her pain-relieving effects. You DO seem to be feeling better. If you weren’t, you’d be a tad bit crabby on the blog tonight.

  5. I am not usually the one to strike up a conversation – I’m sort of an introvert. Actually, I’m a pretty extreme introvert. However, I’m usually happy to talk to random people if they start chatting with me at an event or when I’m traveling with a tour group.

  6. I agree with gforce re: the Stargate movie. I voted for The Mummy Movie…that was fun to say, “Mummy Movie, Mummy Movie, Mummy Movie.

    Also, I, too, have no trouble talking to strangers. If they talk back, I may learn something new and interesting. If they don’t, they have missed out on talking to a very interesting person – their loss.

  7. I’m not a big fan of striking up conversation. I have to in my part-time job and it’s fine, but if I’m just chilling on the park bench or riding an elevator with a stranger…no way. If someone talks to me, it depends on the context. If it’s a mom with kids, I’ll exchange pleasantries. The store clerk or bartender? Totally cool. The person who deliberately comes into my space with no warning or purpose (i.e. “can you tell me how to get to XYZ?”) – ugh. I do my best to be friendly even in awkward or creepy situations, but I don’t typically keep conversations going and try to get away as fast as possible.

    As for the people around me, well, there’s no SO to think I’m odd, but I do seem to attract people much more outgoing with strangers (even confrontational) as my friends (or as family).

  8. It usually comes as a surprise to people that I am extraordinarily shy. I rarely start up conversations with people I don’t know and if it does happen it is usually very awkward for me. However – it seems there is something about me that makes people want to talk to me, they approach me everywhere I go and start up conversations with me about anything and everything. I had a guy start a conversation in a pubilc pool with me by asking me what my thoughts were on evolution. People also approach me and out of nowhere begin telling me their life stories. It is a mystery to me why people see me this way and why they want to immediately confide their deepest darkest secrets to me. Standing in line at a gas station I get two or three people suddenly confiding their secrets to me and in lines at banks I get guys detailing their financial info to me or their affairs and the account they are settling up for their mistress. Even at the grocery store walking down aisles, people just come up and start random conversations with me and it freaks me out because I have no idea what to say or do to end the conversations.

  9. Generally, I am a quiet and shy person. But I have no problem striking up a conversation with a stranger. And strangers seem to like me too. Maybe it’s because I tend to look people in the eyes. I can be personable, engaging, and can get a quick, complete interview out of you faster than Ophra Winfrey. But if you don’t want to talk, I’m happy to ignore you.

    For the past few months, I have been watching a man asking for handouts on a street corner I pass by everyday after work. The small sign he holds says “anything will do”. I didn’t want to encourage him by giving him money (and I thought panhandling was illegal), but I have noticed he is getting skinnier and skinnier. I think I will ask him what his story is. Maybe save a sandwich for him and give it to him with $5 or something. Any suggestions? I just feel like I am in a position to help him a little.

    @ PBMom – Your sweet story got me all teary eyed.

    PS: Joe are you wearing your glasses? If not, you could have eye strain and it is causing headaches. If you are wearing them, then it can only be separation anxiety. 😉

  10. @gforce:

    I’m not home yet; still at Boy Scout camp with my son. I have to get up early to pack the troop trailer and get it hooked up to my pickup. And of course it’s family night and all the kids are wound up and making a raucous. The kid in the tent next to me is keeping his dad awake with constant questions (picture the kid in “Up” and you’ll get the idea):

    “Can we go to grandma’s tomorrow?”
    “Can we go to Dunkin Donuts on the way home?”
    “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a bagel?
    “Maybe an Apple would be nice.”
    “Did it take a long time to get here?”
    “It was nice on the bus.”
    “When do you think we’ll leave in the morning?”
    “I’m excited to sleep in my bed tomorrow.”
    “How long do you think it will take to get home?”
    “Dad, are you asleep?”

    All of the above was said in run on fashion; not waiting for his dad to respond. And when I cleared my throat (to give him and idea that others around him are trying to sleep), he exclaimed loudly, “Excuse you!”

    I think it’s going to be a long night…


    I’m generally willing to strike up a conversation if I have something to use as an anchor (such as “I’ve read that same author, what do you think of that book?”).

    One of the things I noticed living in England was the different social norms on “when” it was appropriate to strike up conversations. For example, I seemed to have little success striking up a conversation when sharing a table with a stranger at an outdoor cafe (due to crowds, it was often necessary), but whenever I found myself in that situation, the people were polite, but clearly un-interested or un-comfortable with conversation at that time. It was like they wanted to pretend I wasn’t there. I guess this feeds into the stereotype of Americans being loud and obnoxious.

  11. What about y’all? Do you tend to strike up conversations with complete strangers?
    no. some have tried with me though & i can’t figure out why. i guess i look sympathetic. it’s always about the price of something in a store or about how there are 30 checkout lanes, but only 3 open & each has a line 40 people long.
    some guy struck up a conversation with my brother in a public restroom once, about the weather & current events. IMHO a public restroom is the last place you should strike up a conversation with a stranger.

    i’m not sure what to vote for. i might just flip a coin.

  12. I’d talk to a tree stump. I talk to strangers in stores, on the street, wherever. My daughter rolls her eyes at me but hey, they talk back, share things. Yep, yep, I talk to strangers.

  13. Hubby and I are both chatty, though as I’ve gotten older I tend to be MORE chatty with strangers and less chatty with family and friends (unless I’m in the middle of a nervous breakdown, or something 😛 ). Hubby is just chatty, with everyone, even me. Sometimes I need to tell him to be quiet so I can get my thoughts together.

    But I do love talking to strangers and usually tell them my entire life story (I must have chatted with PBMom at one time or another 😉 ). Not sure why I do it, though since I didn’t talk (for the most part) until I was about 18 due to social anxiety, I think my chattiness around strangers is just another manifestation of that anxiety.

    I should probably be on meds. 😛

    das (gotta get back to my early morning rugby match! It’s the wildcard game and my Crusaders are WINNING!! WOO!)

  14. PS: I think my ‘chattiness’ here is not due to social anxiety, but instead due to sheer stupidity since I often fail to realize that people may actually read the drivel I post. 😛


  15. I’m a Scot, and it’s in our genes to be friendly. In fact, lifelong relationships have been know to start up while waiting of a bus! It’s not that we’re particularly gregarious (at least not in my case, as in some ways I’m a private person) but by and large we tend to take people at face value, and provided the person seems genuine, we tend to go on trust.

  16. No, I don’t strike up conversations with strangers. If a stranger strikes up a conversation, depends on the subject if I strike back. I wouldn’t call myself shy, but not an extrovert, and really boring. My brother, however, could and would strike up a conversation with a wall and get its whole life story while waiting in a line. I sometimes think one of us is adopted.

  17. This poll is hugely biased!!!

    I’m far too shy. I barely get out of the house, never mind striking up conversations at random. I guess I’m just not confortable with myself, or something, as I seem to be able to waffle away online without any fears or anxieties.

    I thought that working in the local convenience store might’ve helped get me out of my shell, a little, but after twelve years in the same job, I was still the quiet one, and only ever conversed properly with the regulars.
    It’s just the way I am, I suppose. I tried to change it, but it didn’t work out.
    Aw well..

  18. Akemi is the most adorable pain relief out there!

    I was a shy child, almost dysfunctional in public. I never spoke up for myself. Long story about always being the new kid, being bullied, finding one good friend who changed my view of myself, and deciding “screw it”, I could be someone else I liked better if I faked it. So while I’m shy deep down, I now longer give a flying fig and will happily chat to anyone, anywhere. I try not to talk to folks who aren’t inclined, but you don’t know unless you open your mouth and say hi.

  19. ”Separation anxiety.” Genius Akemi!!!!

    Starting up conversations depends on my mood that day. Sometimes I like to be left alone. Other days I’ll be very outgoing and learn the other person’s whole life story. People like talking about themselves and I like listening. I never mention working with animals unless I want to spend a lot of time with the person. Pets bring back fond memories for people and it’s a good topic for hours.

    I noticed that Stargate the movie is front runner. I’m not sure I want Cookie dogging that film. Stargate Troopers would be more fun for him to rip.

  20. I see Carl Binder’s new production, Cedar Cove, starts tonight on the Hallmark Channel. It also has direction from Andy Mikita and Martin Wood. Sounds like a winner already.

  21. I’m okay talking to complete strangers, I just don’t do it much.

    I don’t like talking to pseudo-strangers because then when I blurt something weird out, it might come back to bite me through whatever our connection is.

    You’re the kind of person my mom says has never met a stranger.

  22. “Separation anxiety”, I should be so lucky to have that affliction. I am not the chattiest of people, but in many of my long distance travels I had the fortune to sit next to some people who were very interesting and I learned much. However, in today’s seating arrangements such conversations have gone by the away side. Domestically, I sat next to a man who had a most interesting story from his past and knew Dom Deluise through his business.

    I thought the final choices interesting. I thought the movie “Stargate” a bit to close to current subjects of interest and a good flick. Mummy stories are entertaining in general even staring Abbot and Costelo. The one movie I thought would be pertinent, considering your recent published writing, and got my vote was “Starship Troupers.” It was the most like a cartoon. It has been many years since I did see this, but one of the things most outstanding in the movie was the shower scene in which one of the actresses look similar to a woman I had the opportunity to date before the movie debuted.

  23. Funny you mention the conversation stuff, the guy came to work on the pool pump today and now I know more about his life than maybe my own. I think I must look like a good listener,,maybe. and we have a cousin who is a taker, in that she always has lots of questions in the conversation but very seldom tells you anything about her goings on., kinda tricky that way, but if you know her you are wiser and are onto her methods. ..
    ~Was the separation anxiety the word of the day in English class? Well I hope the headache is better for her reasoning.

  24. I’m just like Sparrow_hawk when it comes to personality or conversations.
    Looks like I have to undust the old Stargate DVD.

  25. Hi joe.
    My mother can go up to check out to pay In any department store and by the time she is finished she will have the servers full family history and more then Likely told them how she knew their aunt / parent / neighbour!!!! (Well….we are in Ireland it’s a small place)
    I used to die as a teenager but as an adult I find it so funny!! Well ….as long as she does not tell them my history!!! “Oh my daughter she keeps telling me she is overweight I don’t see anything wrong with a bit of meat on your bones.” This is normally told to a 19 year old fitting room attendant who is a size 0 and popping gum!!! You can guess my reaction to that!!! I am now 40 and I would call myself curvy!! And this actually happened last week!!!
    It’s a good job I love her!!

  26. Luv Chuck, seems like a good solid Canadian boy…

    I used to be really shy as a child, became more outgoing in my twenties but now have reverted back to being more withdrawn. If someone talks to me I’ll always talk back (it’s only polite) but it depends on the situation as to how much I offer back in return.

    The one thing about living in Canada we always have a conversation starter… the weather… people seem to love to talk about the weather… (but it’s a dryyyy cold *snicker*)


  27. you probably knew this, but independence day was supposed to be the sequel to the stargate movie. the writer/director team envisioned a trilogy, but when MGM decided to make the SG-1 series, they re-worked the script into ID4.
    they were making some noise about actually doing the other two, but i haven’t heard anything about that in awhile.

    if i recall, they were also talking about an independence day sequel set several years after where more aliens (possibly the same species) attack earth again. but haven’t heard anything about that either.

  28. I guess I should add that it does depend on where I am. When I was in NYC last July, people don’t even give you eye contact and if you start talking to them they act as if they think you want something from them. Also, there were many homeless people and when I saw this woman looking through the garbage, I took out $10 and I touched her arm gently and put it in her hand with a gentle nod that it was okay because it looked like she didn’t know how to respond. I know it wasn’t much, but it would buy her a meal at McDonald’s. There was this one woman who was ready to get into a physical altercation because I said “excuse me” not in an accusatory tone but more I was apologizing in advance for me about to run into her because there was no choice with all the people around. She got verbally abusive and my friend was worried she was going to knock me down on the street, and I said to her, “Calm down. I was apologizing to YOU because I was going to make body contact with you and it was unavoidable. I’m not trying to start a fight. Chill.” Or something to that effect.

    @ponytail As far as the man you see, there was a man who was panhandling at the intersection I would be at when I was driving Patrick back and forth to school. I don’t know why I am leery about that, but a woman going through the trash provoked a different reaction with me, but with this man, I would make a peanut butter & jelly sandwich. I would put a fresh piece of fruit (apple or banana because they hold up the best) and a bottle of water. I suspect that he was just doing it for the money because he seemed very unappreciative in his response when I would give him that instead. I figured that I fulfilled my obligation to help those who were less fortunate than myself and if he decided to throw it away, it wasn’t that expensive of a loss. I couldn’t control what he would do; I could only control what I would do. Eventually I didn’t see him at that corner anymore and no one was there replacing him, so I guess maybe the police ran him off or he decided to change locations.

    I am presently chatting with someone who is staying at a shelter and he said that the shelter requires a certain amount of what he might earn each day to have a bed. He said that he has a difficult time hearing what others talk about. He said that he would rather be on the street; he felt safer. I find that very interesting. He is not asking anything of me–just to say a prayer for him and I certainly can do that.

  29. Speaking of Japan, there was a story widely being discussed on twitter by some people and reported on a few Japanese news websites at the time about a man being arrested for wearing a womans leotard and walking around a Tokyo Station lol

    He didn’t break any laws, beyond the law of being utterly strange. Either way the police had no choice but to arrest him and take him off the streets.

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