Every time I start thinking I can cope with simple conversations, I get rumbled. Sometimes I can`t even cope with simple greetings in Japanese. The other morning, my mouth would not move properly to make a ohayo gozaimasu. I only got it together for the last syllable, leaving a noise something like gkzwjzusssssssssu.
Later in the week, my brain couldn`t cope with greetings, blurting out konban wa at 11am.
The middle parts of conversation are so much easier than the frills at the start and the end. Could we just agree to abandon them?
I took my washing to a tumble dryer around the corner this afternoon. When I arrived, an old lady was sat inside reading the paper, sandwiched between a washer and a dryer. We exchanged smiles and konnichi was.
When returning later to collect my laundry, we had a good chat. After easing in with some bland remarks about the weather, she boldly moved onto new ground by commenting on my laundry. When I dropped a grey cotton sock with a red heel onto the floor, she called it kawaii (cute). Then she asked if the red bits got hoka hoka (hot).
I felt proud, a potential house-husband, when she praised me for folding my laundry before putting it in a bag.
“Some women just chuck it in a bag and it all gets creased.”
Sensing her watching, I carefully hid all the socks with spuds in them. Her interest was welcome, so rare is it to speak to a neighbour.
When I left, she called out “Gomen kudasai,” which literally translates as sorry please. I think it means something like excuse my rudeness. But I did not think she did anything rude (although I haven`t counted my socks yet). I couldn`t think of an appropriate response, so I just used the default smile and bow.
Perhaps I am worrying about this too much. In Okinawa I was with a friend from England for 4 days and was constantly fumbling for the right words. At least a friend is more forgiving if the frills are missing.
I can`t remember why I started this post. I think it had something to do with an old lady`s interest in my red hot heels.
I`ll leave now.