But since my theme is stories I never get tired of telling, I'll pick a silly story today. This happened to me in Japan. I often felt that Japan was booby-trapped for foreigners, there were that many occasions for me to make a complete idiot out of myself in the two-and-a-half years that I lived there.
One of these occasions happened on an evening when I was taking out my garbage. We had lots of different garbage pick-ups per month, with different types of garbage collected each time. This was probably plastic pick up day, because I had stuffed my junk into a plastic shopping bag. I dutifully took it to the "corner" (well, the little alley ways were hardly in a grid pattern, so it was no corner, but it was the neighborhood trash spot at least). The spot was just near a pachinko parlor. Pachinko, if you are not familiar, is the Japanese equivalent of a combination between a loud, obnoxious computer game with the social factor (sort of) of bingo. Oh, wait. A picture is worth a thousand words:
Except you really need the audio. These places loudly blare animated-type pinball sounds and music constantly.
Ok, so there I am with my garbage, stacking it at the corner of the pachinko parlor. Suddenly I realize the bag has come untied. I bend down to tie up the bag. All fine and dandy. Until I glance up just a bit and see a surprised man's eyes meet mine, as he slams a window shut. It seems that I had been tying my bag just outside the window of pachinko parlor's men's restroom. And I had been bending over at the perfect level to peep in the window and watch this man pee. Except, I wasn't! of course. I was tying my freaking garbage bag. Can I help it if Japan is simply built too compactly?
Lacking the culturally appropriate phrase to use for this kind of misunderstanding (do you really suppose there is one?) I simply slinked back to my apartment, cringing just a bit more than usual and feeling like the stereotypical water buffalo in a tutu.