Lonely planet…

Dating is an experience like none other. Everyone likes how they feel whenever they are dating. The anticipation, the first kiss, shopping for the perfect outfit, the restaurant choice, the first ‘’first’’, talking about the dates with your friends, evaluating your date with your friends and weeks of butter-flies that fill your stomach every time you receive an email/text/SMS from him/her. Who wouldn’t?

 

With this in mind, recently I have been bombarded with quite a few friends who have not been in the dating game for some time, but however have been forced to take cover on the ‘’reserve’’ bench waiting for the coach (cupid) to call their names to run into ‘’play’’.  And what made me put my strawberry milk shake down, folded my arms and really think about this was the fact that these friends are attractive, educated, have some sort of Japanese ability, both straight and gay, and foreigners. After taking a good gulp of strawberry shake, many questions started to strut through my mind and some of which I have no answers for. Is it that it’s impossible for foreigners to date in Japan? Is it that Japanese are afraid to date foreigners? Are foreigners afraid to date each other? Why is it that it’s easier for a straight foreign guy as to land a date than girls? Why are so many foreigners (who have gone through the stress of learning the language) still left date-less and distressed after being in Japan for so long? Why are Japanese men so afraid to approach a girl and ask her out? Why is it that when a girl asks out a Japanese guy he says he is ‘busy’?

With half cup of strawberry milkshake left, I was determined to get answers, so I went to the source: my gaikoko-jin friends indeed. After several interviews, testimonials and semi-counseling sessions [and now I need to talk to Dr. Phil and Oprah], it was clear that there is an EPIDEMIC: Distressed foreigners at the end of their ropes.

My fabulous gaikoko-jin girls complained that even after studying Japanese and being able to speak it, it is very difficult for them to land a guy. At first, they assumed that the Japanese guys were afraid to speak to them because they (the Japanese men) do not speak English, but then they soon realized that that wasn’t the issue. While reassuring my friends that they are fabulous and attractive and they shouldn’t feel bad, they expressed to me that back in their home-countries they are not accustomed to approaching guys (as guys back-home would be chasing after them), but since coming to Japan and realizing that men here do not approach women, they (the girls) have decided to be the ‘’approach-er’’ and see if that would yield them a good ‘catch’. Well, needless to say the ‘fish basket’ is still empty and no one has bitten the bait yet. As attractive, educated, international girls as these are, it lead me to wonder, what are Japanese guys looking for?  Then it dawned on me (still drinking my milkshake), maybe they are just not into foreign girls and would rather date their own-kind: and that’s perfectly ok! So, I suggested to my friends that they should seek refuge in the land of the ‘’gaikoko-jin’’ boys. This was where another shocker hit me. According to my very reliable friends, my own observations and Facebook (and you know that Facebook never lies), the foreign men are not so keen on dating other foreign girls, but have opted to date Japanese girls. To my friends, this is like a slap in the face, a grenade in your pocket and vomit in your lunch box. But it’s all good: it’s a level playing ground and all is fair in love and war. With not much milkshake left, I decided to add some vodka (to settle my nerves) and make it into a cocktail, just to deal with all this information. Well, you heard here first: Foreign guys are into Japanese girls, big time! But do you blame them? (YES!) – Who wouldn’t like a girl who laughs at everything you say, wears Mickey-mouse hair bows, sports fake eye-lashes and never leaves home without tights? So, after taking all that in my pipe and smoking, I am left speechless. Cupid has flown the coup and left our dear foreign girls to ‘die’.

 

So, after realizing that the milkshake won’t cut it and I would need a stronger drink to deal with the ‘’interviews’’, I switched over to vodka based cocktails and then called up the boys (gay) to hear their side of the story. Well, the guys are not in as bad a position as the girls (well, depends on how you look at it), but still not in the best position. It would seem to me that the active gays (tops) are the ones who are having an easier time on the lonely planet, than the passive gays (bottoms): And this just opened up a whole new can of worms (see my next article for that). But even though these guys don’t speak Japanese and are getting some sort of ‘’action’’ it still lacks the ‘’za-za-zu’’ of typical dating. In that, the Japanese guys (gay) are not willing to date the foreign guys, but however will part-take in one-night stands in the blink of an eye. While this might be fantastic and oh so fabulous for some of the guys for some time, most of the guys are still looking for that special ‘one’; the one who they want to build a lasting relationship with and share special moments. While the lonely planet might be lit on a Saturday night and even a few bright stars might fall, the remainder of the week serves a cold, lonely plate of bitterness as the guys (foreign) tries to contact the Japanese guys for a cup of coffee, a bowl of ramen, a cone of ice-cream or just merely socializing. Just another failed attempt at dating on this oh-so lonely planet.

 

As I leave my apartment to go to the supermarket to fetch a fresh bottle of vodka (I ran out….), I ponder, are we as foreigners missing something? Is there a pamphlet/manual we failed to get at immigration? What else can we do? I, for one, have taken a personal resolution and have made peace with cupid/karma/destiny and have decided NOT TO DATE IN JAPAN. Their loss! I am fabulous!

 

 

We are single | that’s all…

All the single ladies, put your cocktails down and listen…

Recently, in addition to being bombarded by Japanese Jehovah’s witnesses, huge insects, emails from www.viagra.com, an enormous tax bill, and lots of hot sexy Middle Eastern guys. I have been also swamped by co-workers and associates politely informing me of their recent nuptials and their change of addresses from Unhappy Avenue to Blissful Ever-After Boulevard. So, here I am having lunch with my little rug rats and a male teacher was so anxious to tell me that he got married in July (2011) and he is NOW happy (I guess now he gets regular blow jobs without paying…LOLOL). Being me, I gave him the English Teacher fake smile (God bless him). Apparently that wasn’t enough, he proceeded to educate me on the recent developments in his life — he lost 4 kg, start eating vegetables, eats fish every day, stopped smoking, and is now happier than before – since he tied the chain around his neck, I meant knot. He went on to encourage me, a single 28 years old, to find a girlfriend [I almost choked on my sautéed  pork and pumpkin rice (Jamaican food)] as soon as possible [because time is running out and I have to cash in on this happiness before the Government starts taxing it] because he wants me to be happy. Again, I smiled, nodded and whispered a prayer for him. Poor guy… So OLD, so naive.

Well, silly me I thought that was it. Couple days later, my school had a festival and I graced it with my presence (of course, I did…). There I was in the midst of Nihon-jin (Japanese) and like clock-work; the details of my personal life were the arguments of discussion. In this case, I was being counseled by a local police officer who noted that I have been living in Japan for three (3) years [Then I thought, this guy must be immigration, how does he know that?] and I am SINGLE and 28. Yes, the emphasis was on my MARITAL STATUS and AGE. He pointed out that he is 29 years old, and though not married [and I have one guess why not… hmmm mmm], he is currently dating a beautiful girl [at that point, I had to bite my lips]. The police officer went on to encourage me to ‘’FIGHT’’ [ A statement frequently used in Japan which means to persevere] and FIND A GIRLFRIEND soon, so that I can get married and……wait for it… be HAPPY. Well, I thought that encouraging talk was a part of his community outreach program towards me, orrrrrrr a ply to keep me as a taxpayer in Japan. Whichever case, though I enjoyed his company [he was cute], he is preaching to the wrong audience.

As I sat in the schools pavilion and waved to my little rug rats and their parents (who looked like strangers between themselves), I wondered, it is just me or people really think that single people are depressed and unhappy? Or, is it another random Japanese thing that I have not figured out yet: like why they drink so much green tea when they know it cause erectile dysfunction; why straight guys wear make-up: why the girls wear shoes two sizes too big; why my teachers stay at work until 10 p.m.; why the hot springs are filled with old geezers; why do most of the candies/treats are made of rice; and why the cost of rice is so expensive even though everybody is a rice farmer? Hmmm mmm. As I sit here and sip this killer cocktail, I wonder, are relationships in Japan like driver’s licenses? – You really want one by you 18, but then when you get it, you just have it in your purse and never think about it again? And do people really think that married people are happy and single people are not?

My three years in Japan coupled (pun intended) with my anthropological instinct [me being nosy], have led me to observe married couples. One should not judge a Hermes sweater on a manikin, a Kenneth Cole loafer via the internet, neither a book by its cover, but why would a happily married man be found at work at 10 p.m. and on weekend; would rather have dinner and drinks with his friends than to go home to his wife; would be seen ‘playing’ with their phones while having dinner with their spouses? You be the judge!

The notion that married couples are happier than singles seem to be the driving force behind the Japanese girls making it their point of duty to land themselves a ‘catch’ before they ‘expire’. And it would seem that they are not too particular what the ‘catch’ is – dead, alive, gay, straight, loser, tall, short—just a ‘catch’.  This was reinforced while I was out and about and I was ‘’approached’’ by two girls who were out ‘’hunting’’. OMG! OK! So, if you know me, by international convention, I am the gayest thing around: HANDS DOWN! As I stood there and was being interviewed by these two girls (obviously one was helping the other to land the ‘catch’ of the day), I was just amazed how clueless these girls were, or maybe just didn’t care, because the mission is ‘NOT TO BE SINGLE’. Again, I will whisper a prayer for them. Poor souls!

Coming from a Jamaican culture, it’s shocking to see the pressure/emphasis being placed on tying the knock as soon as possible and how the Japanese society views single people as charity chases needed to be helped and encouraged to ‘’FIGHT’’ for their ‘HAPPY’. In Jamaica, one isn’t pressured to get married or viewed as unhappy if you are single. On the contrary, married men seek out single girls to find some ‘happy’, but I digress. I am from a culture that values individualism and other successes over marriage. As a Jamaican, a co-worker or a parent would encourage you to pursue advance degrees, purchase a house, purchase a nice car, travel, find yourself and then get married. Sorry, but the Vera Wang dress has to wait a little longer to be worn.

Being single is precious! Our single years are when we find ourselves, figure out what we really want, test the ‘waters’, know what personalities are compatible with us and just build on ourself, independently. These years shouldn’t be viewed as sad and depressing; but should be happy, interesting, eye-opening and adventurous; because once they are gone, they are indeed gone. One should embrace these years and cherish them and whenever marriage walks up to your door, you should be able to say good bye to ‘single’ with a smile on your face and memories in your heart.

This one goes out to all the single persons out there who are enjoying their single lives and are not concerned about societal expectations and norms, but endeavor to live their lives to the fullest, single first, then knotted later.