Ladies and gents, I need to write about this b/c us, foreigners, have been subjected to this epidemic for far too long: English-speaker stalkers. They’re leeches and they are on the prowl for natives in all big cities and rural towns throughout Japan. I’m talking about complete strangers who are far too keen to strike a conversation with us in situations where it’s socially awkward, and usually with the most inconvenient timing. Japanese people are typically shy, so one should be suspicious when approached by a person who is friendlier then most sane people by western standards. Of course this can’t be written without acknowledging and crediting the Japanese people who make conversation because they’re genuinely interested in learning about us and our countries. Most people I meet are beyond any politeness I’ve ever experienced back home and the spontaneous acts of kindness are always appreciated. Props to those peeps. Everyone else, read on b/c you may either be a victim or a perpetrator. Beware all you stalkers: I am not a free walking English conversation lesson!
Case 1: The Stretching SamuraiScene of the crime:
on the stretching mats of my gymDate:
about 2 weeks agoThe suspect:
A far too genki
(active, energetic) man in his 50’s,Description:
While doing some crunches, I noticed the Stretching Samurai trying to make eye contact as he faked some stretching exercises. I was busy so I pretended like I didn’t notice. My beat red cheeks or headphones didn’t deter him from asking me the ever so vital question, “Where are you from?” Seemingly harmless at first glance, I saw him again the following week. This time I was getting on the treadmill. Seeing me from across the gym, he dropped his weights and rushed towards me for a crash course on how to start the machine. Even though I had used it a million times before and was pressing all the right buttons, he insisted on translating them in English.Case 2: The Tuesday Tea Lady Scene of the crime:
the office at one of my elementary schoolsDate:
once a month during my regular visitsThe suspect:
a happy house wife/part time tea lady; last seen wearing a pink nurse apronDescription:
She is a silent killer. The kind that peers over my shoulder to see what I’m doing. Naturally, I sense her watching me so I make eye contact. Then, she locks me in. “Book,” she said, pointing at my copy of ZenZen
.* I nonchalantly swept my hand over the R-rated comic strip I was reading. What follows is an earnest attempt to understand what she’s trying to tell me in the almost non-existant English she knows. “Book wa
...interesting…Japanese study? I English…learn.” My brain always hurts by 2nd period. Although unarmed, she preys by staring and getting awkwardly close, crapping on her prey’s personal space. Avoid eye contact at all costs.Case 3: The Ogling ObaachanScene of the crime:
last monthThe suspect:
(grandma) well in her 50’s, my height, wearing white hand towel draped over the southern regionDescription:
While basking, half-nude on the wooden bench, I had almost fallen asleep with my head against the wall until the Ogling Obaachan gently tapped my shoulder. “Are you OK with naked?” I shot her a startled look, still tiptoeing between consciousness and sub-consciousness. I replied, “Yes I’m ok with being naked.” In case I was OK before, this assured me that I wouldn’t be anymore because now the 4 other ladies in the sauna chimed in with their broken English. Queue the comments about why my arms and legs are long. She then proceeded to ask me the standard questions…”where are you from…what do you do…can you use chopsticks…???”Please save yourself, your children, and your children’s children. If you have been a victim or know someone who has, please get help or comment below.
*For those of you back home, ZenZen
is a raunchy indulgence published by some English teachers in my prefecture. It’s filled with gossip-worthy stories and humiliating pictures of our parties.