Show & Tell: A falling out, of sorts

September 9, 2009

in Excavating, Show & Tell, Stories, Travel

Twenty years ago I was halfway through a year working in Japan. I had been teaching English, traveling the country, and working out some issues by leaving my falling-apart life behind for a bit.

Phase 1 of the year was Wonder. Everything in the Winter/Spring of 1989 was new and fascinating: the food, the people, the culture, the freedom. This period of growth and opening was exactly what I’d come for.

Summer brought Phase 2, which was Settling In. I felt confident enough in my language and getting-around skills to host my parents and sister for a visit in July and my boyfriend in August.

Things fell apart for Phase 3. Let’s call it Ick. I had no more visits to look forward to, I became very homesick (especially for Boyfriend), and I was bored to tears with my job. Speaking simplified English and covering the same topics over and over allowed me to practice and perfect the art of the clandestine yawn to the point where I thought my cranium would implode.

The heat and humidity were stifling to this dry-heat girl raised in the semi-arid Rocky Mountains. By the end of the summer, I was sick of sopping though my clothes ALL THE TIME. It was only after midnight that it was tolerable to go outside. Conveniently, this is also when I would gather several hundred yen and head to the international phone on the street corner to call Boyfriend, who would be available then due to the time difference.

One suffocating night, around 1 am on my way home from the phone booth, I noticed a man with a flannel jacket (??) hanging over his forearm. Odd. He began to follow me along a deserted street, and I saw that his OTHER arm was moving up and down. Rapidly. With a grin, he flapped open his first arm to show me what he was pumping.

I freaked out, even though I knew I wasn’t in any physical danger. He was a swine, but a harmless swine.

Still, I felt violated. The next day at work, I insisted that my coworker, a bilingual Japanese woman, help me make a police report.

She explained to me that reporting such a “crime” was just not done. Men will be men. Even if police DID look for the perv, even if they DID find him, nothing would happen to him. Shikata ga nai.

I insisted, and she accompanied to me to the local police station. In my mind I was quite powerful, bringing healthy feminine boundaries from America to my host country. I would save other women from this preying public crank wan.ker.

As soon as I finished puffing myself up, the translation deflation hit.

Know what the police officer said, as relayed to me by my colleague?

It probably fell out by itself.

Ma-tha-fa-ka.

I may have fallen off my chair. All by myself.

*****

See what my classmates are showing and telling over at The Town Crier’s Show & Tell. And show something yourself — EVERYONE is welcome.

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Baby Smiling In Back Seat April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

That sounds similar to the old “you must have walked into his fist” excuse.

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Kristin April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

What a story…I know i would have been horrified if it had happened to me when I was younger. Now, I would probably point and laugh.

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Lynn April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

OMG! I’m so sorry that happened to you! I had some awful experiences while living in England, however, I can honestly say nothing like that ever happened. I know that the Japanese culture is different from ours, but you do have to wonder what happens to native women who do something about behaviour such as this. The thought makes me shudder.

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Lavender Luz April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

@Cassandra: exactly.

@CasualPefect: too funny!

@Chicklet: In hindsight it’s hiLARious!

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chicklet April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

I’m the dirty one who finds this really funny. Gross, definitely, but funny. You poor thing!

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The Casual Perfectionist April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

Your post reminds me of a rather inappropriate (yet very appropriate?) thing that happened to my friend.

Hopefully you’ll laugh. :)

She and her sister lived in Germany when her dad was stationed in the military. She and her sister were walking home one day from school. Over in the alley, a man was standing there, peeing on the wall.

“Gross!” they said.

“Danke!” he replied.

Ha.

Every time I hear the word, “Gross!” I think of that.

:)

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The Casual Perfectionist April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

Those things do seem to have a mind of their own.

KIDDING! Kinda. ;)

I’m sorry you were violated, twice…once by the incident and another by the inaction of the police.

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Kristin April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

What a story…I know i would have been horrified if it had happened to me when I was younger. Now, I would probably point and laugh.

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Lynn April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

OMG! I’m so sorry that happened to you! I had some awful experiences while living in England, however, I can honestly say nothing like that ever happened. I know that the Japanese culture is different from ours, but you do have to wonder what happens to native women who do something about behaviour such as this. The thought makes me shudder.

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Lavender Luz April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

@Cassandra: exactly.

@CasualPefect: too funny!

@Chicklet: In hindsight it’s hiLARious!

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chicklet April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

I’m the dirty one who finds this really funny. Gross, definitely, but funny. You poor thing!

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The Casual Perfectionist April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

Your post reminds me of a rather inappropriate (yet very appropriate?) thing that happened to my friend.

Hopefully you’ll laugh. :)

She and her sister lived in Germany when her dad was stationed in the military. She and her sister were walking home one day from school. Over in the alley, a man was standing there, peeing on the wall.

“Gross!” they said.

“Danke!” he replied.

Ha.

Every time I hear the word, “Gross!” I think of that.

:)

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The Casual Perfectionist April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

Those things do seem to have a mind of their own.

KIDDING! Kinda. ;)

I’m sorry you were violated, twice…once by the incident and another by the inaction of the police.

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WiseGuy April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

LOLOL…like his zip unzipped itself, undie sunk to the groin and goods fell out? Ugh…that is so stupidly idiotic.

I have had the non-happy experience of having to cross a public-wanker (but he was not following me)… and it is so uuuuuuggggh!

So sorry that you were brushed off so lightly.

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Mrs. Gamgee April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

Oh man… I’m sorry that happened to you, but I’m totally impressed that you went to the cops.

Of course when I read the “probably fell out” part I had one of those blast laughs… how could any self-respecting police officer say anything so assenine?

Glad you can laugh about it now. :)

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luna April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

wow. I think the hilarity is in the telling. especially how you cover up wank.er and the japanese version of MF.

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HC April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

You were courageous to go to the police. I would have been mortified. Sure now it sounds funny.

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excavator April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

Such a credit to his gender.

I’ve been blessed with 3 of these.

I wonder where they are now…

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Lollipop Goldstein April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

Is that because the man is so talented that he doesn’t even really need to touch himself to have an orgasm? What a man; what a virile, powerful…er…man?…er… ick.

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becomingwhole April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

I do think Kristin’s idea of pointing and laughing would have been a great response, but I likely would have been mortified. At that age I probably would not have gone to the police, however, I would have just hid in my room. Today, would be a much different story–hahahahahahahah!

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Alana April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

Catching up…

–LOVED your “My Love Is Stronger…” post. I never thought of the lyrics in a parent-type mode before. How touching!

–Your flower post dedicated to your 2 sweet seedlings was also quite sweet.

–It “probably” fell out on its OWN??? Wow. I would’ve panicked! Especially ALONE on the street with the creep. Yikes!

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areyoukiddingme April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

How annoying that the culture there doesn’t take that seriously. In retrospect, it’s certainly funny, though. Here are my flasher stories for you…

I got flashed the first time when I was 12 or 13 and walking home (alone, around dinner time, in full daylight, which I did almost daily) from my friend’s house. The guy was in a car, asked me for directions and when I looked over, he moved the map that he had on his lap. Then he drove off, while I just stood there with my mouth hanging open. Then I started laughing and kept on walking home.

The next time I got flashed, I didn’t even notice. My sister and I were walking down a street in Rome on Christmas Eve. We passed some guy and she said “Did you see that?” I said “What?” She said “That guy.” I said “No, what?” She said “He was waving at us…with other than his hand.” I fell about laughing and couldn’t stop for about 1 block and couldn’t catch my breath for 2 more.

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kate April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

OOH. To those police I say, “OMAWARISAN! Chikan o tsukamaete!!!!”

Oh, those crazy Japanese…

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Brenna April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

Oh man! What a wanker (really…). I’m horrified that this happened to you, I’m sure at the time it was awful and icky and UGH. It makes a pretty funny story though! Some of these comments cracked me up (Danke!)

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Delenn April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

Wow, that is an experience in traveling that I would never have thought of. Ick.

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WiseGuy April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

@Casual Perfectionist: You have to come to my country and you would be in splits in no time.

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Once A Mother April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

unbelievable! to say that it probably fell out – ridiculous. I worked at a popular theme park’s water park a few years ago and there was a man on the beach, face down in the sand pumping away, when we approached him and told him his behaviour was inappropriate for such a family place, he offered a similarly lame excuse. another MF’er for the books!

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battynurse April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

I’m with Kristin. When I was younger I would have been horrified and possibly even cried. Now I would probably point and laugh.
Good for you for going to the police though even if that wasn’t “done”. I remember this happening to my mom when I was a little kid after she walked me to school and she was so upset by it. Me it just makes me think men are gross.

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Sunny April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

That is seriously disgusting. Both what he did, and the police response.

I wish I could find it funny in retrospect, but not so much… :/

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Phoebe April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

Yeah, well too bad it didn’t fall off by itself!

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Sheri April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

Loved your comment back to Chicklet, “In hindsight it’s hiLARious!”

If we could just look at life with the perspective of “hindsight,” maybe we’d be more humored along the way. :)

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Kymberli April 7, 2010 at 5:00 am

I could have *sworn* that I commented on this when you originally posted it. I must have been at work when I read it, made a mental note to comment when I had time at home, and then forgot. I do that more often than I’d like to admit. Anyway, I’m back again to comment on Blogger Bingo to fill the space for “a post that includes words from a non-English Language.”

I had never heard of “shikata ga nai,” but now I tend to say it every now and again because it sounds like a juicy curse word without being one, and the true meaning seems to fit curse-worthy situations, anyway.

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JoyMama January 31, 2011 at 5:03 am

Here from Blog Gems — and yes, this one’s a gem!

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Barbara February 1, 2011 at 7:24 am

Ah, for the lure of saving others! The things we did in our youth! (JoyMama knows!)

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Cristy July 8, 2013 at 8:19 pm

I wish this shocked me. Truly I do. Though the response from the police officer did have me shaking my head while smiling.

There’s a rumor that went around my old department about a pregnant graduate student being trapped in an elevator by one of these guys. When he was called in to be reprimanded, it became clear to everyone that he wasn’t getting why they were making a big deal. Rumor had it this was why certain areas of the building were restricted after that (and why this guy never got access) as they were less public.

Glad you’re okay.

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