Freshmen must pick this up about me instanty. All the teenagers be-bopping along in there UA sweatshirts and brand new backpacks glance over at me and instantly know I'm the one to ask whenever someone needs something. Maybe it's due to the fact that I'm half a decade older, stubbly, wearing faded hats, frayed jeans, and an old beat-up backpack from last decade. I just don't care anymore, and that makes me the grizzled vet in their eyes.
It's not as frustrating as it might seem. But it's not quite like those cheezy Skin-a-max porno flicks either, ya hentai. ::chuckles:: I just really like helping people, and as long as I don't get stuck talking to an ungrateful moron that demands I sit there and explain something to them multiple times while I'm about to be late for claa, then I gots no problem with it a'tall.
Living with Yuki's been kind of like that so far. He seems to be happy here, and really enjoying his stay here so far. He still doesn't speak Engrish well enough though, and has to ask me to re-explain things that the RA said in different words and more slowly so he'll catch it all. In a way, it gives me a chance to repay the kindness that all the Japanese showed me when I was a confused gaijin wandering about the J.R. Nishi-Chiba station lost as a duck. Since I'm used to listning to Japanese accents (as well as Japanese itself), I know a small bit of the language myself, and I have a pretty good idea of the customs, it's really helping out.
Like the little things - Yuki says "Hello again!" or some other salutation every. single. time. he walks in the door. That would get real annoying real quick to most people, but I remember my trip and understand what's going on. In Japan, my host family explained to me that there is a particular saying that you were supposed to greet the house with every time you returned home, before you actually even entered the house (still standing in the recess where you take off your shoes, if I remember corectly). Don't know the exact translation, but I can see that's the reason why he always tells me "hello again" whenever he re-enters the dorm. Other things, like how he walks into the room nekkid, with only a small washcloth covering his frontside, would likely even worry/upset/offend/freak out other roommates, but I know about the whole "public bath" thing in Japan. Since this is a bath for all these different people to use, and there's no changing area between the rest of the house and the bathroom, he probably assumed that the public bath rules were applicable. ::chuckles::
My American-ness, while bland and ordinary to all us, is tending to help out quite a bit as well. One of his classes was trying to teach informal, conversational English to them all today. He came back all wide-eyed, asking me to teach him slang. I was instantly reminded of Robin William's performance in Good Morning, Vietnam when he said this, but my inner jackass kept quiet just long enough for me and him to sit there and talk for a good while about various things. His other class was studying about Louisiana today, and he asked if I heard about Mardi Gras. Being a Mobile native, of course I know about it. We started the damn thing over here, long before New Orleans ever celebrated it's first Fat Tuesday. I told him about the floats and the parades and the history and such. When he didn't know about Moon Pies, I made sure to grab some for him while I was at the store so that he could experience them for himself.
He's also helping me out a lot. The obvious thing is that I'm as extremely interested in his culture as he is mine, and we often swap stories. Like today, he was telling me about White Day in Japan, and was a little surprised to discover that I've actually heard of it over here (whoohoo, useless Anime knowledge). In exchange, I was telling him how we celebrate Valentine's Day over here.
Plus, since I want him to have good memories of America, I keep catching myself cleaning up more than I usually do. Things that normally don't bother me I'm starting to notice. Like the folded up towel I'm using as a makeshift mat in the bathroom. I lived like that for years, but now I caught myself thinking about replacing it with an actual mat so that it looks better. I feel guilty about all my stuff still being in a cardboard box - as soon as I can grab my dresser back from RJ, I'm going to throw the box in the closet and make things look a little better. ::shrugs:: Better than leaving our telephone sitting on the floor beside the jack, I suppose.
Is this the end of the beer swilling, flag waving, hell raising, nut scratching, fun loving, wild, crazy, long haired Alabama redneck that we all know and love? ...prolly not, but at least I'm learning a little something from all this. ^_^;