Now when people first told me that body language was different over here and that the Japanese interacted with each other in TOTALLY different ways I shrugged and assumed that yes it makes sense and I can see that they do a bit.
Generally speaking I thought I’d got used to it. When The Jellicle came to stay he made much over the body language cues being different and I was a little one the proud side over having stopped noticing so much, well I’ve been here five monthes!
So I innocently walk into school today thinking yeah I have it sorted. I was amused by the guys in the restaurant tickling each other last night (mmm sooo homoerotic) in a way that they never would in England. But, and heres the key difference (or so I thought), in a way that certain girls in England would be perfectly comfortable with.
The big thing that you get told over here is that all the straight girls seem like they’re coming onto you and other women…yeah thats true enough the body language is very different in that respect but you learn to ignore it. And the other thing you get told is that you can’t automatically assume that a man is gay, because ALL the men give out gay guy cues. To be honest my gaydar is so shit that I never paid no nevermind to it and went by my rules of assuming everyone is bi more or less and not giving a shit about other peoples sex lives.
Now the Japanese have wierd relationships with their arses, especially the boys. Men who are good friends will (I have on good authority) rub their mate’s arse instead of what in England would be a hearty slap on the back, and conceivably in California could be a manly hug. Male ALTs in Elementary Schools are standardly warned that if the younger ones like you they will joyfully put two fingers together (in the ‘gun’ position) and try to shove them up your arse…yes this is a standard warning. In anycase, it’s got a totally different position in Japanese body language than in English. I had got used to it (I’m a girl and wear trousers…as far as I can tell I’m safe!), I was internationalised, what was likely to phase me?
I was blase.
I walked into a second year classroom today, after passing on the hall the Brainbox being pinned to a wall and forcibly kissed by his friend (also a boy), the kiss was a peck and on the lips but I wasn’t surprised after watching them feeling each others legs throughout English classes last term. Now that could be said to be a reasonably adolescent/pre-pubescent thing. I’ve seen English kids behave similarly, I have to admit I’ve never seen a teacher walk past a pair like that and say ‘Good Morning Brainbox-kun, Good Morning Noisy-kun’ and not bat an eyelid…but she did, so I did and then was faced with more bizarreness.
Certain people should not read the next paragraph because they’ll only put sick and twisted spins on it…but in anycase. I walked into 2-4 and around the front desk was gathered a group of giggling squealing girls. There were about eight of them in all, clearly having a wonderful time from the giggling and random Japanese encouragements that were being shouted out. The reason for the squealing was this: they were gathered around one of there number who was bending over a desk and taking it in turns to lightly swat her arse, and then all swapping places…
All of them were giggling hysterically, the swatted ones were squealing in fun rather than anything else, and all of them were calling out random Japanese in tones of high merriment.
Had I come across this situation in England I have absolutely no idea what I’d have done. There would probably have been questions about appropriate behaviour in classrooms. The second year teacher? Strode into the classroom, put her books on the teachers desk, turned to look at the gaggle of girls…and then waded in giggling herself. I have no idea if she actually joined in,it certainly looked as if she might, but she was swallowed into the crowd of girls and my perplexed brain was trying to figure out what exactly was going on.
I still haven’t. I don’t think I’m ever going to get used to Japan!