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Pet name problem

Illustration by Marie

A few weeks I got on the topic of "terms of endearment" with a student - you know, those cute little names people call each other. Well, she advised me that Japan didn't have any equivalent to "honey," "sweetie," "darling," etc. After grilling her about it for a while, she still said, "No, they don't exist." So, I just decided to ask a few other Japanese people. They all said, "No, there's nothing." When I asked one man what he called his wife, he told me "Oide." ("Come here.")

So, the problem is this: It's getting near the end of my contract and I have to decide if I am staying in Japan. I don't know. Can I live in a "no honey" country? It seems all other considerations such as my salary, friendships I have formed and culture have gone out the window, and I don't know if I can spend another year in a country where there's no "love chicken," "pumpkin pie," "pudding pop," or "shnookums." Of course, I would never stoop so low as to use any of those annoying names, but I just feel better knowing that they're around, you know? They are one of the uncomfortable comforts of home.

I guess I can't believe that you could live 20 years with someone and not once on Valentine's Day be tempted to utter a little something special. So as a service to the People of Japan, I am going to create a few terms of endearment myself. Watashi no koi: Koi is short for koibito which means lover. Of course koi by itself is a river fish sometimes found swimming in dirty water, but it's a start. Watashi no ninjin: Ninjin means carrot. No explanation, that's the only vegetable I know how to say in Japanese. Watashi no hana: Hana means flower and is a perfect name to use with your wife. However, if your wife suspects you of having an affair with a woman named Hana, then that's a whole other issue. Plus, another definition of hana is nose, so that may be a little strange.

Well, there you have it. Now, if I could only spread the use of these three little expressions, I might be able stay in this fine country after all.

Many thanks to Juniour Diva for this Rant.

Metropolis Online
381: The Crisp Linen Suit Syndrome
Unbearable heat and crisp linen suits
380: Smile
Smile when you see another foreigner
379: What sign are you?
When signs start to complicate life
378: Off with the gloves
Battle of the readers
377: Stop before you shop
Stores that scare away gaijin
376: Home sweet home
Modern housing in Japan?
375: Nihonjinron
Theories of Japaneseness and insecurity
374: Plastic bags
Do we really need them for everything?
373: Doctor knows best?
A scary visit to a Japanese hospital
372: Don't forget the finger wagger
So you've never complained about Japan?
371: A-choob tale
The Sneezing Salaryman
370: The gaijin language snob
Dare to cross his path
369: Nihongo
One man's struggle...
368: Making sense of Roppongi
Why do I keep going back?
367: Hateus Japanus Expatricus
Great bar bores of the world
366: Plants and animals
Darwin's turning in his grave
365: No more groping - for now
Women only train cars
364: Man's best friend
Pets have it rougher
363: In praise of Tokyo taxi drivers
A good ride all around
362: The Big Boot Brigade
Masters of the oversized-shoe
361: The case of the missing garbage cans
Where art thou o garbage can?
360: Ramen for the soul
Japanese chicken soup
359: Revenge of the nerds Part II
Geeky guys with hot girls
358: Little old ladies
Grandmas packing a punch
357: Starbucks sanctuary
Stop the Starbucks insanity
356: Pet name problem
My sweet little... carrot?
355: Unclean Jeans
Jeans McNasty
354: My chosen profession
Lindsay Nelson's the name, English teaching's the game
352/3: Merry Christmas... sort of
Merry and not-so-Merry Christmas in Japan
351: Last temptation of rice crackers
Breaking big bills the hard way
350: Revenge of the nerds
Gaijin girls are just jealous

ISSUES 300-349
ISSUES 250-299
ISSUES 233-249