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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Feeling Foreign (Twice!)

I had two moments of feeling my foreign-ness today, but neither negative.

First was when I went to the curb to get my weekly grocery delivery. Every week the deliveryman says to me, "Shall I help you carry those home?" and every week I say, "Thanks, but I got this." (Except the whole exchange is in Japanese.) The deliveryman changes every once in awhile, but this one has been coming to my house for about 3 months, and every week offers a helping hand.

So this week I come out and I'm wearing my headphones, listening to a podcast. I'm getting my groceries organized and the deliveryman walks over to me and says something I can't hear, so I say, "Thanks, but I got this." He looks at my groceries, and again says something. I look at my groceries; this week's order is a little large, so I guess he thinks I need help, but I don't, so I say again, "Thanks, but I got this." One more time he says something, so I take off my earphones. Clearly we've veered off our script: I need to listen. "Which country are you from?" he asks me in very polite Japanese. This strikes me as a little odd; we've been meeting weekly for 3 months and now he wants to know? "I'm from the US," I say. "Congratulations on your soccer team," he says, bowing. "Oh," I say. "Well, thanks." "Shall I help you carry your groceries?" he asks.

Second was when I went to buy supplies for our lizards this afternoon. I always stop and look at the lizards for sale in the shop, and there is a very cute one today. He notices me watching him, and he comes right over to the side of the cage and tries to crawl up it to look at me. I tap on the glass and he follows my finger wherever I drag it. He tries to nip at my finger through the glass. All the while, I coo at him, "Aren't you a cute little lizard? Would you like to come home with me?"

A little boy, watching me, says to his mom, "What's that lady doing? Does she think lizards can speak English?"

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