Wednesday, November 26, 2008   2:30 PM

Dear old dude at Matsuya

My apologies if I was a little curt and abrupt to you earlier this evening.

You see, I dropped by your Japanese fast food chain store place in search of a nice hot nourishing dish of dead cow on rice, as I have done many times before, and was about to tuck in to the bowl the young dude on duty had just placed in front of me when you very confusingly asked "スプーンをさしてあげましょうか?"[*] and making a gesture moving both hands horizontally sideways indicating, as far as I can tell, that you were trying to tell me something about a short plank of wood.

Did it look like I was about to tuck into a plate of curry?

Nope. Possibly you observed me poking at the deceased bovine bits on top of the rice with my chopsticks in a slightly disjointed manner? Well that was a) because I was f*cking whacked after 11 hours in front of a computer, meaning my hand-eye coordination was not at its best; and b) experience shows that if I don't do a little preparatory work on your signature dish I get a tangled sinewy mess which is somewhat hard to ingest.

If I wanted a f*cking spoon I would f*cking ask you for one.

And anyway, if you were assuming I was a just-off-the-boat gaijin unfamiliar with the strange wooden implements the civilised locals use to consume nourishment, how the fugu do you think I managed to order the darn item in the first place, seeing as the buttons on your ordering machine[**] are in Japanese only and all that? And how the hell would you expect me to understand something like "さしてあげましょうか" (a colloquial semi-formal construction probably not found in volume 1 of "Japanese for Foreigners Just Off the Boat") in the context of a short plank of wood?

Oh yes, I hope you counted the number of grains of rice left after I finished the apparently challenging task of consuming a meal using only two round sticks. I believe there was one which somehow attached itself to the side of the bowl.

[*] "Would you like a spoon with that, sir?"
[**] a labour-saving device which has the additional advantage that the people handling the food don't have to handle money as well

Posted in Life in Japan
Excellent swearing, asterisks or no asterisks. *applauds*

Must say, I do find eating rice with chopsticks a bit tricky, but then I do have the excuse of being a pasty old Northern European who's never set foot on hallowed Japanese soil.
Posted by: BiB | 2008-11-26 16:32
I was once punched outside of a Matsuya by a drunk salaryman. Rather than asking me to move out of the way of the door he just pushed me, so I pushed him back. He then punched me in the face. The one and only time, and it was in the 'safest' country in the world.
Posted by: Peter | 2008-11-26 18:40
Hey, at least you got the courtesy of it being stated in actual question form. I've gotten all kinds of crazy hand gestures apparently meant to approximate "Would you like a bag?" and its ilk.
Posted by: john turningpin | 2008-11-27 00:21
@BiB: normally I am a much more mellow type, but when you've had a long, intense day and just want something to eat without my utensil abilities being doubted, a well-timed f*ck comes in handy. Umm, if you see what you mean. Chopsticks, by the way, are also used in other countries - I hear they're quite popular in China ;).

@Peter: I hope you bear no ill-feelings or indeed neuroses against Matsuya for the actions of an individual drunk? Personally I find the presence of drunks makes any country much more dangerous, and cowardly person that I am prefer to let them have their own way, especially as it could turn out that they're the local Yakuza wannabe.

@JT: This kind of thing happens pretty rarely to me, which is why I thought it worthy of comment. Maybe it's being in the centre of Tokyo where people are used to foreigners who can perform these kind of amazing tricks? Anyway, it's nice to know there are still some people around keeping up the old traditions.
Posted by: ThePenguin | 2008-11-27 00:40
"How the fugu"

Can I steal that? I will give you a pair of chopsticks for it, or better yet, a spoon :-)
Posted by: Tokyo Cowgirl | 2008-11-27 05:41
Sure. I'm probably not the first person to have come up with that particular turn of phrase, but as far as it is in my power to do so, I grant you royalty-free usage of it in all perpetuity, at least until my accountant bitch-slaps me into realising what a revenue opportunity I have just wasted.
Posted by: ThePenguin | 2008-11-27 15:14
He probably thinks that only Japan uses chopsticks .

You should have asked him if he could use a knife and fork. Then again you might have been a little tired to do so...
Posted by: Contamination | 2008-11-29 12:26
they use chopsticks in China too! Gasps! Who would've thought. :D
Posted by: lina | 2008-11-29 16:47