All the single ladies, put your cocktails down and listen…
Recently, in addition to being bombarded by Japanese Jehovah’s witnesses, huge insects, emails from www.viagra.com, an enormous tax bill, and lots of hot sexy Middle Eastern guys, I have been also swamped by co-workers and associates politely informing me of their recent nuptials and their change of addresses from Unhappy Avenue to Blissful Ever-After Boulevard. So, here I am having lunch with my little rug rats, and a male teacher was so anxious to tell me that he got married in July (2011) and he is NOW happy (I guess now he gets regular blow jobs without paying…LOLOL). Being me, I gave him the English Teacher fake smile (God bless him). Apparently that wasn’t enough, he proceeded to educate me on the recent developments in his life — he lost 4 kg, started eating vegetables, eats fish every day, stopped smoking, and is now happier than before – since he tied the chain around his neck—I mean, knot. He went on to encourage me, a single 28 years old, to find a girlfriend [I almost choked on my sautéed pork and pumpkin rice (Jamaican food)] as soon as possible [because time is running out and I have to cash in on this happiness before the Government starts taxing it] because he wants me to be happy. Again, I smiled, nodded and whispered a prayer for him. Poor guy… So OLD, so naive.
Well, silly me I thought that was it. Couple days later, my school had a festival and I graced it with my presence (of course, I did…). There I was in the midst of Nihon-jin (Japanese), and like clock-work, the details of my personal life were the elements of discussion. In this case, I was being counseled by a local police officer who noted that I have been living in Japan for three (3) years [I thought, this guy must be immigration, how does he know that?], and I am SINGLE, and 28. Yes, the emphasis was on MARITAL STATUS and AGE. He pointed out that he is 29 years old, and though not married [and I have one guess why not… hmmm mmm], he is currently dating a beautiful girl [at that point, I had to bite my lips]. The police officer went on to encourage me to ‘’FIGHT’’ [a statement frequently used in Japan which means to persevere] and FIND A GIRLFRIEND soon, so that I can get married and……wait for it… be HAPPY. Well, I thought that encouraging talk was a part of his community outreach program towards me, orrrrrrr a ploy to keep me as a taxpayer in Japan. Whichever case, though I enjoyed his company [he was cute], he is preaching to the wrong audience.
As I sat in the school’s pavilion and waved to my little rug rats and their parents (who looked like strangers between themselves), I wondered, it is just me or do people really think that single people are depressed and unhappy? Or, is it another random Japanese thing that I have not figured out yet, like why they drink so much green tea when they know it causes erectile dysfunction; why straight guys wear make-up: why the girls wear the shoes two sizes too big; why my teachers stay at work until 10 p.m.; why the hot springs are filled with old geezers; why most of the candy/treats are made of rice; and why the cost of rice is so expensive even though everybody is a rice famer? Hmmm mmm. As I sit here and sip this killer cocktail, I wonder, are relationships in Japan like driver’s licenses? – You really want one before you are 18, but then when you get it, you just have it in your purse and never think about it again? And do people really think that married people are happy while single people are not?
My three years in Japan coupled (pun intended) with my anthropological instinct [me being nosey], have led me to observe married couples. One should not judge a Hermes sweater on a manikin, a Kenneth Cole loafer via the internet, nor a book by its cover, but why would a happily married man be found at work at 10 p.m. and on weekend; would rather have dinner and drinks with his friends than to go home to his wife; would be seen ‘playing’ with their phones while having dinner with their spouses? You be the judge!
The notion that married couples are happier than singles seem to be the driving force behind the Japanese girls making it their point of duty to land themselves a ‘catch’ before they ‘expire’. And it would seem that they are not too particular what the ‘catch’ is – dead, alive, gay, straight, loser, tall, short—just a ‘catch’. This was reinforced while I was out and about, and I was ‘’approached’’ by two girls who were out ‘’hunting.’’ OMG! OK! So, if you know me, by international convention, I am the gayest thing around: HANDS DOWN! As I stood there being interviewed by these two girls (obviously one was helping the other to land the ‘catch’ of the day), I was just amazed how clueless these girls were, or maybe just didn’t care, because the mission is ‘NOT TO BE SINGLE’. Again, I will whisper a prayer for them. Poor souls!
Coming from Jamaican culture, it’s shocking to see the pressure/emphasis being placed on tying the knot as soon as possible, and how Japanese society views single people as charity chases needed to be helped and encouraged to ‘’FIGHT’’ for your ‘HAPPY’. In Jamaica, one isn’t pressured to get married, or viewed as unhappy if single. On the contrary, married men seek out single girls in order to find some ‘happy’, but I digress. I am from a culture that values individualism and other successes over marriage. As a Jamaican, a co-worker or a parent would encourage you to pursue advance degrees, purchase a house, purchase a nice car, travel, find yourself, and then get married. Sorry, but the Vera Wang dress has to wait a little longer to be worn.
Being single is precious! Our single years are when we find ourselves, figure out what we really want, test the ‘waters’, learn what personalities are compatible with ours and just build on ourselves, independently. These years shouldn’t be viewed as sad and depressing; but should be happy, interesting, eye-opening and adventurous; because once they are gone, they are indeed gone. One should embrace these years and cherish them and whenever marriage walks up to your door, you should be able to say good bye to ‘single’ with a smile on your face and memories in your heart.
This one goes out to all the single persons out there who are enjoying their single lives and are not concerned about societal expectations and norms, but endeavor to live their lives to the fullest, single first, then knotted later.