A couple of years ago I bought a T-Shirt from J-List that looked like this hoodie and I’ve worn it all over the place. I sorta dig the shirt for three reasons… one is that anyone that isn’t Japanese will ever have a clue as to what it says, so it’s like being part of an inside joke. Another is that if someone asks you what it means, you can make up whatever you want and tell them so – that has almost caused a few bar fights, actually, if ya tell a guy it’s about his loose girlfriend.
And then there’s the case of what happens when a Japanese woman sees it and understands it – Japanese men never see the humor in it so they can piss off. The women always do… in fact, it can sometimes make for a lil story.
I used to love wearing this shirt to Yankee Stadium. Especially when Seattle was in town, because the stadium was 1/3 Japanese for every game in the series (Matsui vs Ichiro). A number of times I would pass a pack of Japanese women, while walking around the place – just before they passed me, one of them would see the shirt and a loud KAWAIIIIIIIIIIIII would be followed by a fit of giggles. I distinctly remember two women in full kimono one game who actually bow’d to me after they burst into a fit of Japanese and laughter… I tipped my cap and proceeded to trip down a ramp, wile in a fog.
I also wore it up during a weekend in Vancouver, Canada – where a large Asian population has been settled for years – and a few guys approached me to see if I knew what it said. Since I’ve seen people get kanji for “I lick myself” tattoo’d on them instead of “truth”, and that Japanese writing is never a science, I said “you tell me”. They call came back with the same loose translation: “Looking for a Japanese girlfriend” – one guy said that it said “accepting applications for” or something, but still close enough.
The last few months I’ve seem to burn thru my laundry faster than usual, so I’ve been wearing it around work to stretch the wardrobe. A tiny risk, seeing as Dating@Work is always taboo, but it doesn’t say anything bad, so I figured, “what the hell?” The Chinese woman at the cafeteria tells me that it means the same thing in Chinese, since the writing is the same. She almost blushed, but she laughed more was embarassed. A guy at my weekly poker game tried to tell me that I was “shopping for a school girl”, but even he said his Japanese was way rusty and he was guessing.
The other day, while late to a meeting, I was chuggin’ down the hallway in said T-shirt. I was walking towards an Asian woman, but I wasn’t paying much attention: walkwalkwalkwaknotebookwalkwalkmeetingwalkwalk. She burst out laughing as I passed by her – I slowed and looked to my left with a ? on my face. She looks me in the eye and says, “That’s funny! I’m Japanese.” She turned and started to walk away before she said, “…and I’m single.”
I think laughed and tried to say something like “I’m late for a meeting, hey, we should talk, or something!” but I don’t remember if I thought it or said it. Better off just laughing and trying to focus on my Test Plan, I think.
It’s not often I’m at a loss for words, but something like that doesn’t happen often!