Thursday, September 27, 2012

Definitely. Not. Rice.

I have some serious (bug) problems. So much so that I sometimes feel like my life story would be more interesting to an entomologist than someone that wanted to live or teach in Japan. I am proud to present yet another Japanese bug story. 

               Yesterday I came home and walked into my kitchen to grab a glass of water. There was rice all over my floor.  I stopped and stared. I was confused. Since my house seems to suffer from an incurable bug problem, my cleaning habits have more or less consistently bordered on obsessive. I lie awake at night if I know that I left a dish unclean. Obviously, this was insanely out of character. 

               I stopped and asked myself questions: 

Did I drink last night?
I didn’t remember drinking. I opened the fridge and confirmed that my six pack was full, my wine bottle was unopened (yes, I do refrigerate my wine! Don’t judge me! Stop!), and my Gin was still sealed. Check, check, and check. 

Did I hit my head last night?
 I hadn’t seen any bruises that morning and no one had pointed anything strange out that day. If I use light brown eye shadow instead of skin tone my students know and excitedly tell me how cool they think that is. They would have told me. I felt my head. Nothing hurt. Check and check. 

Did I even eat rice last night?
The answer was no. I had made the equivalent of a breakfast burrito with potatoes, onions, eggs, and tomatoes. No rice. 

Did my rice spill? I checked to make sure that all my doors and windows were closed and locked. If my rice had spilled, something or someone had spilled it. I grabbed my spider slaying broom and began to search my house. I looked, timidly, under and behind each piece of furniture. Check, check, check, check, CHECK, check, check, check, and check. Then, as I shuffled my way back to my kitchen in defeat I remembered something: I didn’t even have rice in my house to begin with. I had finished my first and only bag nearly a month before and never got around to buying more. 


That particular question I yelled aloud. Now, Japanese walls are thin. If my neighbors are having an argument I can hear the entire thing. However, I take great comfort in the fact that my neighbors speak almost no English. Any phrase beyond “hello!” or “see you!” is rewarded with a blank stare. Their children speak a little more English, but as one of their teachers I can confirm that “why the fuck” isn’t in their lesson plans or their vocabulary lists. I can get away with yelling a lot. 

Miffed, I grabbed a broom to sweep. Then, I noticed something. The rice. It was MOVING.I looked closer and discovered that there was no rice on my floor. There were HUNDREDS of (fly larvae)/(other larvae)/(secret option C) making a mass exodus to the holy land: my trash can.
I dropped my broom, grabbed the vacuum and fought the urge to vomit or gag by calling “BEAM ME UP SCOTTY” and making various spaceship sounds. As I did this, I noticed a couple flies buzzing around the kitchen. I caught myself wondering whether these were their parents and what it would be like to watch one’s children get sucked into a giant vortex of doom. This made the whole process a lot less fun. I’m not that weird; right?

 Ted Bundy once explained that he chose not to enter graduate school for Psychology (I was a Psychology major) because Psychologists were some of the most messed up/weirdest/strange people he knew.* I’m going to choose to ignore that (I mean, the guy killed and tortured people, I don’t think he’s a good judge of character) and continue to tell myself that I’m normal. 

Until next time!

 *I tried to find this exact quote and could not. I had a professor that had interviewed him back in the day, and this story came up in class. If I can find proof I’ll post a link.


  1. In another "definitely not rice" story. In my previous study abroad, I was served something that I thought was rice by my host family. I ate it with relish, but at some point the host mother asked, "How's the fish?" Ehhhhh, what fish? She pointed down at something black and said, "See? The eyes." So I was actually eating a bunch of really small white fish and not rice. I was a little shocked, but I still kept eating. What can I say? It was delicious.

    Your story is particularly bizarre because I don't feel like I've seen many flies in Japan. In fact, I saw one or two for the first time today, but that was it. Perhaps it's related to the typhoon?

  2. so if i hear a Japanese person 10 years in the future saying "Why the fuck!" all the time, i now know who to attribute it to XD