The other night I went out for a drink with some friends and met up with a guy who I had met recently. Yeah, that’s right, Amanda got a casual drink ¿date? (?). Yes! I thought, rather pleased with myself. I sure am meeting dudes lately. Maybe April really would be the spring of my content! And gosh, dimly lit smokey bars are the perfect place to be meeting guys who are serious and looking for relationships. But anyway, I do tend to ruin things by thinking too much, so I figured I’d meet this guy again and see how it goes.
As we were conversing and having a pretty good time, he turns to one of his friends and says, “She’s so cute, with her broken Japanese and everything.”
I blinked. “Excuse me?”
“I said, you’re cute,” he smiled.
“Yeah, but what did you mean by broken Japanese? What the hell?”
“I didn’t mean anything by it,” he said, and turned back to his friend. I sat back and crossed my arms. Broken Japanese. Katakoto. That’s a word some people use to belittle foreigners who can “barely” speak the language. It’s a description for people who are just starting out, who maybe fumble a bit along in their daily lives, and it’s almost always used in a sense of – it’s cute, oh so cute, in the way a dog would be cute if it was trying to play the piano. I sure was a cute little retard, basically.
Now, because my entire identity is based on the fact that I can kind of sort of speak Japanese, I just had to sit there agape. Like, imagine an indignant white girl with no problems getting ridiculously offended. That was me – a parody of Jezebel.com in real life.
“I think I’m going to go soon,” I huffed after I had collected myself. “But I mean, I guess you couldn’t understand the conversation anyway, what with my broken Japanese.”
“What are you getting so angry for? It’s good that it’s broken. It makes you cuter.”
I know it’s silly to get upset over something so minor. In the long run of things, who cares if some rando at a bar insults my Japanese? Plus, it’s good to hear something other than “Nihongo ojouzu!! (Your Japanese is so good!!! – the standard phrase for both fluent residents to tourists who can say Good morning)”. I mean, I’m not a native speaker; I never will be, and I know it. I know I have an accent, and that I use strange turns of phrase, and that sometimes I’ll go off on a tangent and eventually words just start becoming odd noises in the hope that someone will get the gist of what I’m saying. It’s not pretty, but it works. But beggars can’t be choosers here! I’m the one responsible for the communication during 99% of the conversations I have. I know I’m not horrible, but even if I was, it’s not like fluent English speakers are waiting at every corner. Plus, learning Japanese is a struggle – it just is. It took me seven years to get to this point! I was a speaker of broken Japanese at a certain point of the game here – everybody is! There’s no shame in it; I just would like to think that my time and effort meant something. But ugh, whatever dude. I certainly refrained from judging your English.
But like yeah. You were just negging me (which, cool, I didn’t realize Japanese guys knew how to do that!). I gotcha, bb. And now I gotta lose your number – it’s the Japanese Way!
Edit: I wrote this up when I was still feeling the sting a bit, and as a result it came across as really defensive and prickish. I rewrote some stuff after reviewing it with a clear head and realizing that even tho the guy was a bit of a jerk, I’ve got myself a bit of a big head too, sometimes.