Today was Shinjuku
Strangers often come up to me wherever I may be and offer little nuggets of advice. Hearty suggestions like, "Where are your pants?" or "Please stop touching me there!" But today was different. Today I was the normal, the standard for appropriate behavior. On a walking tour recommended by my tour book, I set out to unleash myself upon Nishi-Shinjuku. Since the place where I pay my monthly rent was also located in West Shinjuku, I figured this would make a decent day trip. (Well, half-day, since I still can't be asked at 25 to get up before 12.) So, I'm standing at the crowded intersection to a busy street close to Shinjuku Station and this Japanese man, accompanied by an elderly woman, approach me. In what sounded to me as rather good Japanese and rather mangled English, the Japanese man asked me, "Where you from?" I was impressed, I must admit. Most beginning students I get don't really have a grasp on the "from" bit. I've gotten rather used to hearing "Where you?" and just sort of responding, "I'm from the United States." Anyway, he got across that he wanted to know whence I came. The woman next to him looked at me plaintively, then back at him, and to me again. I looked at the red streetlight and saw that there was no way out of this. "I'm from the United States," I said. Without missing a beat, he replied, "Los Angeles?" I was shocked. Do all people wearing motorcycle jackets and sunglasses look like la-la land demon-spawn? "Dear god man, NO!" I said. "Los Angeles is Hell on Earth, a warmed-over water-sucking cultural vacuum that drains your life-force and encourages thumb-sucking. It is exactly the kind of place you should avoid at all costs. Even Detroit is better." At which point he said, "Dee-trot?" and I said, "No, I'm from San Francisco." He had a brief conversation with the old woman and said, "Ohhhh, San Francisco." Kind of the same way that Cartman from South Park says, "Ohhhh, rainbows. I like those." The Japanese man continued, "Nice city." "Yes, it is," I said, and the light turned green.