Monday, August 21, 2006

Alas, Walletio, I knew him well....

Anyone who knows me knows that, like anyone, I am quirky. The usual stuff, like that I always chew 2 pieces of gum at the same time, I eat with faster than anyone I know (but I dont appear to be eating fast, just all of a sudden the food on my plate is magically gone), and I refuse to use a wallet.

Much like an iPod, when the casual onlooker asks why I refuse to use a wallet, I answer with my standard, "...Cuz someone has to..." response. That's not true though. Aside from the fact that having a big fat wallet in my back pocket makes my ass look huge, I'm not an orderly person. My life is not in order, or rather, it's not ordered in the conventional way that society would have me order it. It also seems kind've silly to have so many things of such great importance all nicely organized to a) lose or b) have someone steal. I mean, surrs'ly, do you keep your life savings in a shoebox in a closet marked "CLOSET FOR SHOEBOX CONTAINING LIFE SAVINGS." To me, this is no different than having your wallet in your back left/right pocket. Let some cretin try and pick my pocket. The only thing they'll get is a handful of lint and an anusful of shoe, especially in more high risk places/places I'm not familiar with, where I put all my shit in impossible to pick places.

Those of us fortunate enough to be liberated from the walletial (new word) constraints society has placed upon us know one thing: Not using a wallet drives women absolutely apeshit. As I'm sure all of you know, my birthday is in October, and me and the miss'z have been discussing birthday presents and whatnot. Here's a common birthday present conversation with us:

Her: I know what I'm getting you already.
Me: Oh yeah? What is it.
Her: ...
Me: Don't get me a wallet, because I won't use it.
Her: ...

Shopping for me for a birthday present is not easy, because I don't really like receiving presents. Anything I want, I buy myself. I consider my needs spartan enough and my financial situation good enough to where I have everything I want. Seriously. Because I don't want crazy shit. I don't want a fucking motorcycle or a nice car or a badass computer or a wicked stereo system. Sure, they'd be nice, but I'm not really into that shit. I'm not like a zen monk or anything like that, but I simply don't live a lavish lifestyle. Wanna make me happy? Buy me a gift certificate on That is the ultimate birthday present. When I go on my biweekly book buying splurge, I will think about you and remember your awesome gift. As for other presents, if someone gets me something that says, "I know you and what a nutjob you are, and nothing sez it like this little present right here," I'm delighted.

So last night we were discussing the wallet thing in more detail. She wanted to get it out on the table. She wanted to plead her case. She even compromised by offering one of those card holder/money clip things, which are pretty sharp, but still not my style. A debate, eh? Very well. I'll go down the list of points and counterpoints.. At the end, I'll explain to you, likely the American, why she made her points, because they might seem odd from our perspective.

Point 1:
Her: It looks bad giving someone a wrinkled bill.
Me: If my wrinkled money is offensive to them, they don't have to accept it.

Point 2:
Her: You're looking at possible jobs in Tokyo that may involve you schmoozing with folks. It'll look retarded if you're pulling out all your cards and yen like an idiot. (I gave her credit for this one)
Me: (And followed it up with a dickhead response) Yes. And if you give one to me, I'll be sure to use it.....when I'm out with people it might matter to.

Point 3:
Me: I don't want you to spend $300 on a damn card/money clip. That's retarded.
Her: It is good quality and will last a long time, so it will come out to about 10cents a day, which is nothing. (Not a bad point...And I of course didn't mention the fact that I have about $1000 worth of ink on my body and have spent Christknowshowmuch on booze in my life..)

Point 4: (And a main point throughout)
Her: Don't you want to look good?
Me: To who? A bunch of people that don't know me? A bunch of people who are judging me based on how I hold my credit cards? I don't care about them. I care about the people I know and like. Their opinion matters. Besides, I knowz I looks good.
Her: But don't you feel good when you're all snazzed up?
Me: ....
Her: Ahha!
Me: Yeah, but I don't give a shit about joe blow on the street. Who the fuck are they? Why do I care what they think about me?
Her: That's very American.
Me: Damn skippy!


Guilty as charged, peeps, and every time someone tells me I'm acting American or something, I silently high-5 myself. That means I'm not being assimilated. That means I'm not losing my identity and turning into something that everyone back home (wherever that is) wouldn't recognize. I'm not the gaijin running around using honorifics and dressing like an imbecile, apologizing profusely when some asshole hip-checks me on the train. I'm not correcting Japanese people's Japanese or making stupid quips based on Japanese esoteria that even most Japanese don't understand. Japanese people think that it's great and all when roundeye learn Japanese, but one thing expats in Japan must never forget is this: They want gaijin to be gaijin. It might suck, but that's how it is, silly gaijin, and you are not going to change it and you are not going to be Japanese.. Ye' caint fight the hog, ye' just gotta ride it. Bitches. Anyway, it also said a lot about why we do stuff and why the Japanese do stuff. Americans are far more individualistic and don't really give a shit about what other people think. However...During my conversation with her, I mentioned that while there are many people whose opinions don't mean shit to me, anyone who says "I DON'T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT WHAT ANYONE THINKS ABOUT ME" is either a) unemployed or b) a liar. If I honestly didn't care about what people thought about me, I would go to work in my underwear because I like hanging out in my underwear, which would make me a), unemployed. I saw people in the military who honestly "didn't give a fuck," and they are now a), unemployed. Those who said such things and still did a good job were b) liars. We just don't notice it as much in the USA, because you can still be relatively successful in the USA even if everyone pretty much hates you. In Japan, social pressure is a lot stronger, and the tiniest comment made by a boss can be a catalyst for major change. When I was working at a bar in Tokyo, a comment like, "It seems people are showing up late these days..." to someone who has been late is akin to threatening to fire them. And this is at a bar. In the USA, it would be like, "OH YEAH? AND?! YOU GOT SUMMINA SAY FUGGIN SAY IT." In the USA, broad, general comments like that are ignored by the people they're intended for. Using sweeping comments like, "ummm, yeah, we need to really work on getting here on time" to 10 people when one of them has been late is completely useless. Not so in Japan.

In any case, I'm not sure if I won the money clip/card carrier debate. I'm not sure if comments like, " into societal pressures to use a wallet is no different than Japanese civilians supporting the emperor in WWII!!!!" will really act in my favor, but whatever. No societal pressures will keep me from making such outrageous statements...Not even walletial ones.

So I'll use the above bullshit to transition into the next section:

Mmmm hmmm, I found more signs on the street! For those of you just joining us, it's a continuation of the post immediately before this one. Not that I attract new readers. Anyway, let's continue:

Sign Du Jour #1:
(that's French)
....So what do you reckon the message is on this one?

OH SHIT!! Misfire. Let's try that one again.

What do you think this sign is supposed to be???

I'm thinking...Maybe how to feed rats cigarette butts? I'm not sure. Here's the original.

I like the tone of this message. It's almost like, "I threw my cigarette into the drain, and by 'threw it in the drain' I mean 'hid it.'" That's my favorite kind of joke. Something like, "Brando is a really good friend of mine, and by 'really good friend of mine' I mean 'raging sodomite'".

Honjitsu no Sign #2:
(that's not French)

Good luck with this one. It almost looks like the guy is holding some enormous, strange, sand-filled test tube....the contents of which make people surprised and taken aback. Oh wait, here it is.

I like how they have "Neglect" thrown in there. Oh yeah, and how come the words on the picture aren't translated??? Aaah, I gotcha. Fuckers.

Oh, here's a sign that, suspiciously enough, IS NOT translated into English. I wonder why?

It's a sign next to an ATM machine warning that there have been some folks stealing money and cash cards from people. Who? Foreigners. That's what it says. More specifically, "There have been instances of people being engaged in conversation by unfamiliar foreigners, during which time their cash card and money gets jacked." I feel bad for any chatty foreigners in the vicinity of that sign. They might get hauled in for questioning. (Pssst...Don't tell the foreigners tho!! teeheehee!)

What'd I say before? Ye caint fight the hog, ye just gotta ride it. Bitches.

ps: I got in trouble for taking the picture of the redneck shirt at a store. Damn foreigners.


Blogger Hoss said...

Way to tell conventional society to take their gender-specific, social constructs and stick 'em up their ass. I'm glad somebody out there is still sticking their thumb in the eye of the norms because it sure as hell isn't me anymore. I'm far from the posterboy for polite society, but marriage, kids, mortgage, career expectations, etc., has definitely taken the edge off. Good to know you're out there represent'n.

Oh, and I don't think of the word "redneck" as a term of derision...more of an term of endearment. Does that say something about me as a person?

12:25 PM  
Blogger brando said...

I've heard that they freak out when you wear the hats and make fun of their racially insensitive signs.

It would probably be better if they just put a sign on the door that said "Foreigners stay the hell out!"

But at least they like "Brando".

Yeah, I just showed my pics on your blog. So what? Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Nick Lachey, WWE, PGA, Runescape, Homeland Security.

How ya like me now?

Just remember, You're Paully. Ain't no one can make you wear a damn wallet, if Paully don't want to.

1:32 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

why would i wear a wallet? who wears wallets? every time i walk by that bar i smile about that "sorry japanese only" on the door, and the fact that the chalkboard outside has english written on it, or the sign on the door says CLOSED, which is pretty not-japanese. kinda hard to look "international" and "hip" when there's a sign that says "Sorry Japanese Only" on the fucking door.

hoss: ill continue to fight the good fight. im sure ill get the money clip for my birthday tho. women simply wont tolerate it. even my ex in okinawa bought me a money clip too cuz she couldnt deal with it. maybe its a japanese thing. they're not good at dealing with against-the-grain behavior and are pre-programmed to quash/abolish/atrocitize all things different.

1:47 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

ps. i look like a real scumbag in that last picture.

2:00 PM  
Blogger brando said...

But you are a scumbag, so it works out perfectly.

At least you don't have a bunch of pineapple in your mouth.

3:27 PM  
Anonymous cory said...

Something about that rat with the little 'surprised' halo in that second sign really engages me. Why is that rat paying attention to the cigarette? Is he going to mutate into a huge rat? Is he going to call his rat brethren and swarm the smokers apartment? I'd like to see more of that rat, as in, where does his story go from here?

10:27 PM  
Anonymous Tony said...

Way to go Paul. I also refuse to carry a wallet. My main reason is because I don't like sitting down with one ass cheek 6 inches higher than the other but also I like to defy convention in any little way I can. My wife has pretty much accepted this but the person who bitches about it the most is my dad. He just can't accept it. Whenever I spend more than 10 seconds looking for where I put all of my cards he gets this "I told you so look on his face". Then I say,"how would that be any different than if I just couldn't find my wallet?" He never has an answer but he's convinced that at any moment I'm going to lose a credit card or my driver's license. I haven't carried a wallet since the sixth grade and haven't lost anything that would go in a wallet for 16 years, but if I ever do my dad will be right there to tell me that he told me so.

I'd also like to challenge you to a fast eating contest sometime.

Those smoking signs are so freaking cool. I can't decide which one I want to make into a Tshirt. I think I have to go with either the burning kids eyes one or the hiding butts with sewer rats one.

10:55 PM  
Blogger Hammer said...

Years ago when I worked in London, I had a French girlfriend who would frequently toss her arms up in the air in total exasperation at something I did or wore and would say, "Uh!!! You are SO American!"

To which I would always say, "It's a package deal sweetheart. You order the Big Mac meal, it comes with the fries."

Which of course would tick her off mightily, because she could never fully reconcile the fact that McDonalds was, hands down, her favorite place to eat. (I swear, you couldn't keep that girl away from the Freedom Fries with a pitchfork. Fortunately, it seemed like all the weight went straight to her boobs.)

11:17 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

i dunno tony, i eat pretty durned fast. one rule is that you cant appear to be eating fast. the food must seem to magically disappear from your plate. or rather the person across from me looks up and demands to know what happened to my hamburger. brando, back me up here. as for the signs, im gonna keep an eye out for more of them. im sure there are more than the ones i found. if/when i get tired of taking pictures of them, lemme know which one you like the best and ill take a pic of it with my real camera (not my phone camera).

hammer-- that sounds like your freedom girlfriend had a cool genetic trait. travelling/living abroad is cool tht that reason, cuz no one in the USA is gonna be like, "gawd, you're so american." theyre just gonna tell you you're brainwashed if they disagree with u.

cory-- i encourage you to write a segment on the rat in charge of hidden ciggie butts.

9:17 AM  
Blogger brando said...

Yeah Paul eats fast, which just means that he has to sit there and watch me eat my meal at human speed. Or he can just get more drinks from the drink viking.

I've never had anyone tell me that I am Soooo American, but I can imagine what my response would be.

I'd put my hand up to my mouth like I was telling them a secret, then I'd wisper "No shit."

12:23 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

people kinda get freaked out by my eating speed. they think they have to keep up or something, or that they're somehow inferior because they can't hang, which is true.

12:56 PM  
Blogger Jinxy said...

How did you get in trouble for taking a picture at a French store of them making fun of our rednecks?!

Nobody makes fun of our rednecks! Only WE can make fun of our rednecks.


4:12 PM  
Blogger bucket said...

[i]Mmmm hmmm, I found more signs on the street! For those of you just joining us, it's a continuation of the post immediately before this one. Not that I attract new readers. Anyway, let's continue[/i]

I am a new reader, I found your North Korea story really thanks for sharing it. I also have been checking back to see if you added any new signs. I had no idea rats were so startled by our cigarette butts intruding into their little sewer world.

4:19 PM  
Anonymous Tony said...

The eating speed thing is funny Paul. It definitely freaks people out. I've been making an effort over the years to slow down. But I have a funny story about it that I'm going to share whether you like it or not.

When I was a junior in highschool I had two summer jobs, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I used to run home and shower between and try to eat lunch before I went to job number 2. This usually left me about 5 minutes to eat lunch and considering that I had just spent the last 5 to 6 hours on a hot roof laying shingles I was pretty hungry. I learned to eat a lot in a short time. Actually, I learned so well that I ended up eating like that all the time.

It was about that time that I started dating my wife. She had this strange notion that when we went out to eat she had to stop eating when I did because if she was eating and I wasn't that somehow made her seem fat. I didn't realize this at first and whenever we'd go out to eat I'd always think,"If she doesn't like this food why doesn't she just say something about it and we can get something else for her to eat". I'd ask her if everything was alright and she say "No it's fine, I'm just done eating". After a little while I started thinking that it was kind of ridiculous that she would waste so much food so I just started eating hers when I was done with mine.

I think she finally realized that she had to say something or starve to death. She explained the feeling fat bit to me and then said that not everyone can eat in 10 minutes. I asked her if she was just sitting there starving all of the other times that we went out and she said "basically yes". I thought that was hilarious. Actually, I still think that's hilarious.

People don't know what to do when your plate is gone and they've just started.

7:02 AM  

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