Monday, September 25, 2006

Muslims, Pork, and Rednecks

Caution: I lost control of this post about 3/4 of the way down.

Sometimes it seems like I'm always the last to know.

So I had this interview thing on Satuday at 8am, which took over 4 and a half hours. Not bad for an interview. Jeepers. Either way, no hanging out in Tokyo on Friday night for me, so I came right home after jiujitsu, watched a little Conan, and passed the fahggout.

Anyway, the li'l lady wanted to go driving on Saturday, so I said "roger that" and she cruised down to my locale at about 2 or 3pm. Since most Japanese people don't have cars, and driving in the city is such a pain in the ass, it's sometimes nice to go for a little "country drive" from time to time, so it was a nice break from the grind. Anyway, south-south-west we cruised -- where we were going, I did not know, but apparently she somehow did, even though she kind've pretended like there was no plan. She saw a sign and said, "Wanna go there?" and I was like "yeah sure whatever," and we turned off.

The place was called "Yamanakako", which means something like "Inner-Mountain-Lake" or "Mountain-Inner-Lake" or "A lake that is in the mountains" or something like that. Usually I ignore names in Japan because they're not literal, kinda like in the USA. For instance, if I say "I'm going to Cedar Rapids," people generally don't think that I'm going white water rafting amid some trees. So we're driving along, doop-de-doo, we turn a corner after driving through winding mountain roads, and BLAMMO, there's a giant fucking lake right at the base of Mount Fuji.

Here's what it looks like.

Unfortunately, it was really cloudy, so it looked a little bit more like this:

I was pretty surprised, and demanded to know why I was unaware of this little piece of heaven, a mere 2 hour drive from my house.

She shrugged and looked at me like I'm dumb, 'cuz I am.

So we cruised around to some other places, checked out an outlet mall, and headed back.

"I SHALL RETURN," I shouted in my best MacArthur voice, and drove back to Tokyo. All and all, a very fun trip.

We made it back and decided to hit up this all-you-can-eat/drink Yakiniku place, which usually ends in disaster for me. For 2500yen, which is like $21.50, there is an all-you-can-eat/drink course which lasts for two hours. Most Japanese approach these deals with a level head, and figure, "Yay, we can enjoy ourselves without worrying about the price!" As you can probably imagine, though, Americans see "all you can eat/drink" deals as more of a "I have two hours to force as much beer and meat into my gizzard as I possibly can, let's whoop it on!" I am no different. Alas, I'm a slave to my cultural upbringing.

.....aaaaaaaaaaaaaand scene!

Imagine a world where the fois gras goose and the farmer are one in the same. And instead of figs, its meat and beer. And instead of harvesting the liver, the goose/farmer combo nearly pass out at the table.

That was me.

Anyway, every time I eat pork, I think about Muslims, cuz Muslims don't dig on swine. That's fine. No swine is fine. Everytime I think about Muslims not diggin' on swine, I think of how Afghans don't dig on swine either. Every time I think about how Afghans don't dig on swine, I think about how some of the rednecks in our program thought it was really fun to feed the Afghans pork-products without the Afghans knowing it.

"Haiy Main, didjoo see thay-yut? I may'd thayut po-leece chief eat a poh-wurk saw-sidge! a-hyu-hyu-hyu-hyu."

I'm sure a lot of people probably get a chuckle out of that, but not me. That makes me so mad, that I have difficulty typing about it even now. And it's not a religion thing. It's not a "har har, git them muslims" thing. The thing that pisses me off about it is the breach of trust. Those Afghans were receiving training to become policemen in various parts of Afghanistan, and their instructors were giving them pork. This was almost as offensive as the time I heard someone bragging about "having a turban painted on the side of his truck." "Har har har," he said, "I have a confirmed kill." "Wow," I replied, "I didn't realize any of our guys had taken fire or anything like that." "Oh, it t'wurn't nuthin laaaik thay-yut," he grinned. "I hit a kid with muh truck and he died."

Yeah. This guy hits a kid with an F250, the kid dies, and he's talking about painting a fucking turban on the side of his vehicle. This incident resulted in me having my first of about 30 tantrums/freak-the-fuck-out sessions in Afghanistan.

At the job interview on Saturday, the interviewer asked me why I took a nearly 66% pay-cut to come to Japan. I answered something like, "Well, it was my goal to come back here, blahblahblah, money's not important, blahblahblah," which isn't false. But what I wanted to say was this:

While the company I worked for in Afghanistan was stellar and grade-A, the people we supported were filth. I lost at least a dozen IQ points and most of my faith in humanity during the 7 months or so I was there, and not because of the Afghans. I realized who some of the people were that we were sending over there to help bring the Afghans back on their feet, and I was thunderstruck by their cultural destructiveness and tried to distance myself from them as best I could. Coming to Japan was a means to not only fulfill my personal goals, but to get away from a level of violence and stupidity I formerly thought somewhat more unlikely to exist among my fellow countrymen.

Don't get me wrong -- a majority of guys over there were good guys, so I guess the stuff I talked about with them (the good guys) doesn't stick out as much in my mind, because it was normal human-to-human interaction. But when I sit back after drinking beers and consuming enough meat for 3 Afghan families, I get a little reflective and can't help but feel a little mudded. I feel guilty for not raising a stink. I feel dirty for being a part of that organization, however loose the association, and being on the same pay role as those 4 or 5 people who were party to some of that shit.

So there I was, all meat drunk and buzzed from beer, thinking about Muslims, Pork, and Rednecks. My last thought before crashing like a coke-fiend at Jesus camp was...........them Afghans, they're good peeps...I wish they only knew that the swine they were putting their trust and confidence into were much more inferior than the swine they were being tricked into eating...


Blogger brando said...

Jeez Louise. I had pretty much the exact opposite experience. The people I worked with were professional and careful as hell.

Actually the few contractors I worked with were sort of douche bags. Mostly just lazy with a healthy dose of posturing.

The only pork issue I saw was one of our terps opened up our squad fridge and grabbed a pepperoni calzone without asking. We have lots, so it's not really a big deal, it was just a bit rude. He warms it up in our microwave, eats about half, then demands to know if there's pork in it. We say something like "It might." The guy shrugs and continues eating. Calzones are good.

2:35 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

plausible deniablity? "well, it might have pork it in....then again it might not."

the stomach is a powerful thing. ramadan in afghanistan lasts for about 5 hours a day. then all bets are off.

2:56 PM  
Blogger brando said...

Ramadan in Iraq lasts zero hours. They just run around tisking each other, and stuffing their faces.

3:24 PM  
Blogger Hoss said...

Jesus Christ, thanks for that uplifting story... was worried you might have a .45 handy and some plastic over the carpet to help contain the mess you were going to make. Don't feel too bad, there are prime examples of human pieces-of-shit found everywhere.

I thought you were going to go the route I always go when thinking about Muslims(or Jews) not eating pork: Good, more for me!

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Tony said...

Pork is delicious. So are Muslims. Rednecks... not so much.

The story about the guy with the truck was pretty much the most disturbing thing I'd ever heard.

Making Muslims into eating pork and thinking it's really funny is such a douchebag move. If you're going to be a dick just be a dick don't do it secretly. I think the thing that would annoy me most about it is that the guys doing it have no idea why it's wrong to do. "I eat pork all the time he might as well eat it too. It ain't gonna kill him". People who don't respect other people's culture piss me off, unless it's part of their culture to disrespect culture... then I have to respect that.

3:30 AM  
Blogger Paul said...



i think we should move to an island and democratically draft up a constitution that says anything written in the constitution may or may not be followed, depending upon the whim of the individual. then we could democratically decide that voting is a criminal act and that our culture has a "long, proud history of disrespecting culture and diversity". then we would have a democratic revolution in which all things democratic would become cultural taboo and wouldnt be discussed.

i bet that'd confuse some folks.

in the meantime, i think we should respect jihadis' right to carry out jihad -- if not, we're being culturally insensitive. in an attempt to be more understanding, we're going to open up our borders and let each muslim male murder an american as a new part of the hadj. once completed, the saudi government has agreed to fly them back to wherever they came from, and provide the family of the deceased with a clock radio and a plastic scimitar (for the kids).

and yes. "douchebag move" is about the best way to describe what these guys were all about. if you could do a "douchebag move" on the dance floor, these guys would be travolta. it's like me sneezing in a random stranger's food for no reason and acting sneaky when they eat it non-the-wiser.

i would like to punctuate this comment by saying that i'm being 100% not serious about the new island culture or opening up our borders to crazy muslims. if you think i'm being serious, shame on you.

8:04 AM  
Anonymous Tony said...

I'm with you on the island thing Paul. Could we call our new form of government democratic fascism? We could democratically elect a supreme dictator and our parliment could pass laws that compel the dictator to dissolve democracy and oppress our people. I'm right there man.

2:35 AM  
Blogger Jinxy said...

Ah. The truth comes out at last.

It was the pork products that drove you over the edge.

11:01 AM  
Blogger Travis said...

Good post Paul. It amazes me that people are out there that think like the guy who hit the kid with his truck. The most impressive part of this post for me though, was that you recognized and voiced that there were a lot of good people there, but that those interactions just don't stick out. I guess sometimes I see on the blogs/news only the extreme shit, (myself guilty too), and people ignore the other. Now, maybe the dipshits were the the majority where you were at, but a lot of the time the extremists are the minority.

I guess I am an idealist at times, and I hope my idealism is close to realism in that thinking most people are good people who just want to live their day to day life and be happy.

Also- "No swine is fine", made me laugh.

3:50 AM  

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