Unpleasant Happenings

Quite often when I ask an adult Japanese student how their week has been there’ll answer,
“No happenings”.
Well I had a couple of ‘happenings this’ week.
One an interesting thought provoking, happy ‘happening’,
( later) and the other, unfortunately probably going to be recorded in my now, thick book of supremely humiliating moments in public.
You could put me anywhere in the world, anywhere at all and I can pretty much make a show of myself. I’m somewhat lacking in the grace and elegance department.
I trip, I fall, I’m clumsy, I’m forgetful, I say the wrong thing and end up choking on my own foot, add to all of that the need many people in this country have, to draw attention to my difference, my foreigness, my gaijinity, I do pretty much anticipate some degree of humiliation anywhere I go, avid readers will know, the post office is a particularly fertile ground for such experiences.
But nothing really could have prepared me for the ‘happening’ of last week, where I did not trip or fall, or break anything or even open my mouth. I simply wandered into it, without warning, unprepared, unarmed, unguarded.

I was shopping. Shopping quietly, minding my own business, lost in my own complex and stunningly interesting thoughts.
I was in the food department of the local department store, a place I rarely shop on account of the exhorbitant prices.
On this occasion though I was planning a spag bol and I wanted to make it with minced lamb, lamb is hard to come by here and this shop is the only place I can buy it.
So I got my lamb and was sashaying along the aisles, resisting 5 quid bottles of Lea and Perrins and as I turned a corner to the pasta aisle, someone called out my name loudly.

I looked over and a woman I sort of know was working on the register. We have kids around the same age but our paths haven’t crossed for a couple of years.
She shouted my name across the shop, waved and said,
Everyone loves to hear that right? Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, it’s right up there in my top faves, along with “ Jeez you lool like shit”, “ who the Hell cut your hair?” and “ is that a clingon on the back of your cardy?”
But across a crowded shop? Really made my day.

So, having been here long enough to know the drill, I sort of smiled and sort of half waved back and dodged into the pasta aisle, like a galloping rhino, taking care not to knock all the Paul Newman’s altruistic pasta sauce off the shelves with my enormous hips, I took a deep breath and sucked it up.
I continued lumbering around the shop until I had all my vitals.
Selections made I went to pay, but the universe was not friending me that cold, dark day, and she, her, The Woman was the only line open.
She saw me, she waved me over, and there was no escape.
So I crawled over to her and she started up again.

‘Haven’t seen you for ages, you’ve really gained weight haven’t you, ooh look at the size of your boobs’.
I was mortified, nay petrified, calcified, and standing before her like a solid, massive lump.
A line was forming behind me.
People were listening. Then my arms, which up until this moment in my life I hadn’t had a problem with, suddenly appear to hang down like great sides of beef. She reached out and grabbed them, trying to gain traction with her tiny little hamster paws and said ‘oh you just eat whatever you want don’t you.’

Then I said, actually it may not have been me, by this point I had completely lost touch with myself and my own reality, I may have been channeling by now,
“Don’t you think you’re being a bit rude?’
And she laughed,

And I said, “are you just informing me, do you think I’m unaware of this weight gain, is this a public service?”
And she said, “Ooh you sound angry, and she laughed again.”
The woman on the next register was listening in by now.
Then she started picking items out of my basket telling what I should and shouldn’t eat. There was packet of cheesy snack things which were actually for the chicklets and she pulled it out and said,
“You should put these back, you shouldn’t be eating these”
You know that saying about how you wish the floor would open up and swallow you, I get that now, I really get it.

She was still laughing when she gave me my change.

I managed to slink to the packing area; I was trying to figure out how I could get back up two floors and into the car park invisibly.
By the time I got outside my hands were shaking so much I could barely get the wrapper of my Cadbury’s fruit and nut.

17 thoughts on “Unpleasant Happenings

  1. OMG. That is shocking.

    I mean Japanese people in general seem to make light of weight gain or loss in the most inappropriate way but that was going too far and bad even for a Japanese. I would of slapped her.

    I am so used to been told I am fat in this country or people commenting on weight gain or weight loss (followed by oh you lost weight, you should lose more kind of comments)

    You should of told her she looked old.

  2. Oh my god that really takes the cake! I’m also somewhat used to the fact that Japanese will comment on your weight, but that really goes too far, surely even for this country. She sounds like a deeply wounded person who just LIVES for these moments when she can get her vicarious revenge on the universe by taking advantage of gaps in the strict Japanese social control of behavoiur that allow her to vent her frustrations and hate. However fat you may be (and you’re probably not at all, we just all feel like elephants in this country) at least you are not her and don’t have to live with her inner torment and self-loathing.

  3. What an utter bitch. Utter, utter, utter bitch. Best comeback I ever heard to a situation like this was when a neighbour accused my best friend’s mum of being on the large side. Without batting an eyelid she turned round and spat: “Yeah? Well I can still stand up in your mouth…” There ain’t no comeback to that.

    • Steve and Sag thank you for the vehement and multiple ‘ utter bitch’ made me feel your outrage on my behalf and it is much appreciated. xx and what an awesome comeback, I’ll file that away for later use. Thanks.

  4. good grief, utter, utter, utter, utter, TOTAL bitch! none of it her business, I am afraid I’m not cut out for situations like that gracefully – I would have used the ‘f’word loudly! Maybe you should write a letter of complaint to the store manager.

  5. Sherry, thanks, I’ll get you that address, right now my fingers are too fat to turn the pages of my book.
    but we know Ditoh always has our backs.

    @ everyone, thanks for the supportive comments.
    This woman is actually Chinese ( yeah get that, Kintetsu employ a non- J person??) but it’s neither here nor there, as we all know, we get asked a lot of very inappropriate questions all the time or have to hear rude remarks about ourselves or our kids etc. I ( think I )could suck up the questions if it was just part of the general culture but we all know, they never ask each other these questions. Thanks though for validating my outrage/humiliation. xx

    • OMG Doulamama makes it to blogsphere. welcome sista.
      I tell you when I was writing the part about how she said my boobs are so big, I was thinking if Doulamama reads this she’ll pee herself laffing.

  6. Horrid, horrid woman. I agree there is always someone who loves to use those gaps in foreign etiquette to their own bitchy ends.

  7. My poor love ! That is sooo rude, how old was she ? ..I fear that things like that may happen to us more and more as we get older..in one week alone i was asked if i would like my neighbours spare mobility scooter and someone bought me some ‘Large’ pants that came up to my armpits. You are gorgeous gal..don’t you forget it ! x

  8. How hilarious was that? I mean, awful at the time, but so bad I hope that you have just pissed yourself laughing about it afterwards. What a total freak person that woman is. I think you should, however, prepare some kind of retort in case anything relating to your personal appearance crops up again, something like, “Yes, I have put on weight, I am selling my body fat for implants, so just growing a bit extra to pay for next year’s trip to las Vegas…”

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