Thursday, July 12, 2007

I don't knit lace on the train

Not since I had to frog the beginnings of my Orangina. Don't ask me why, but suddenly, about two years after the Orangina craze, I suddenly, out of the blue, decided to knit it the other day, bought the pattern, and found some Japanese yarn. I don't know what fiber it is exactly--it says 70% something, 30% something else, and neither things are the characters for cotton or wool... It says SoftRamie on the front of the ball band, and I'm fairly sure the 70% is the katakana for acrylic. But it feels nice enough and it was on sale, so I went with it.

So, my dad taught me to use chopsticks when I was a little girl. I promptly forgot and devised my own way. He has since told me I do it wrong, but I'm so good at doing it my way that I didn't have patience for learning to do it all over again the right way. Well, the other day I went out for soba with some friends. It's pretty cool, actually--you order using a vending machine outside on the sidewalk and it gives you a ticket with your order on it, and then you go inside and hand the guy behind the counter your ticket and tell him what kind of noodles you want (soba or udon), and in a few minutes you've got yourself bowl o' noodles. It's a standing restaurant, too--no chairs. So anyway, I'm standing there trying to eat noodles with chopsticks, which involves slurping, which is totally polite in Japan but which I still cannot force myself to do, and which is actually really difficult to do anyway, without making the noodles fly all around and fling sauce on your shirt, when these three late-middle-aged businessmen come in and stand next to us and start... observing how I eat my noodles. They found it very amusing. I wasn't terribly embarrassed or anything but it made it that much harder to eat with grace, knowing that I was being watched. So then one of them tapped my shoulder and said "wrong," while pointing to my chopsticks. Disconcerted, I said, "...oh?" (Brilliant international communication! We will reach understanding!) He grabbed a pair of chopsticks and said, "sample, sample," showing me by example how to hold it so that the lower chopstick stays still and the upper chopstick moves (just like my very American dad does it). Well, it's hard to overcome twenty years of chopsticking, so I made some mistakes and got some more sauce (which is clear, but also oily, so it still leaves a stain) on my shirt. But at least I provided them with some amusement. I'm sure they have traveled for business to the U.S. or had to interact with foreigners for business, or they wouldn't have remembered (from their school days) enough English to talk to me, therefore they must've been the embarrassed party at some point, so I didn't mind so much, but sometimes it's hard to tell when people are laughing with you and when they're laughing at you, so it wasn't exactly fun.

My friends suggested that next time I should just shake my head and claim, "Korean style!"

6 comments:

Beverly said...

Funny story!

Auntie Maim said...

"Korean style" is awesome. Or else learn the Japanese for, "My [upper-chopstick-holding finger] was injured in a boating accident and can no longer manipulate the chopstick properly. This is my way of compensating for the disability. Thank you for your concern, however!"

Noelle said...

Yes! Tell them it's Korean style and they'll go "aaaaah" and nod their heads vigorously

Ramona said...

I love that story! Maybe we need to send you some of the Tide stain remover travel pens.

Javajem said...

Love it! Next time offer to show them how you hold YOUR chopsticks :)

Jocelyn said...

Ooh -- I think you may revive the Orangina craze with that link -- I've been in the market for a good summer knit.

Next time go for extra laughs and use training chopsticks!