Note: First referenced a long time ago in the post about going to play in Nagoya and seeing a fist fight.

The strange American girl was petite and called herself “Bernice”. I think she was trying to size me up and compare herself to me, which is behavior you sometimes see in gaijin, especially ones who are studying Japanese. Until we both played our open mic sets, everything she said felt mildly condescending. “I’m from near Philly. Probably closer than you really are to D.C.” That’s a funny thing to guess.

We had a dialogue like this:

Bernice: “So how many songs have you prepared?”
Greg: “Prepared? Just however many they let me play.”
Bernice: “…Oh. So you write your own songs then?”
Greg: “Well sure, who else would?”
Bernice: “…Oh. So I guess you’re a teacher?”
Greg: “Yeah, at a cram school.”
Bernice: (Makes inexplicable yuck face) …Oh. A ‘juku’, eh?”
Greg: “Yeah. Actually it’s a much nicer gig than my old gig–working at Nova.”
Bernice: “…Oh. How long have you been in Japan?”
Greg: “Two years.”
Bernice: “…Oh.”

Well, maybe it’s lost in the text, but every question she had seemed laced with this sort of competitive prejudice, and every answer I gave elicited a caught-off-guard reaction, only to be followed by another calculated question.

Then after we played, it was like I had proven myself, and her attitude was completely different. Her questions didn’t cease, but became more of the advice-asking variety, and she also kept resting her hand on me, which I actually didn’t notice until she pointed out that she was doing it and then explained that it wasn’t flirting, but how if it had been flirting, her boyfriend, who she had just performed with, would “kill” her. Thinking this a rather grave situation, I waved to her boyfriend, Shinji, who had prior been doing a terrible job of making himself look aloof in the corner. He came over. He was mild-mannered enough. Stoic, even. He also didn’t seem to like the girl, per se, just possess her. He didn’t seem to care for me much either, and he certainly didn’t possess me, although he did stand and listen to us.

She asked if I was studying Japanese, and I said yes, it was my college major and everything.

“And then you came to Japan and realized all that studying wasn’t worth jack,” she replied.

“Actually, I think I have all that studying to thank for just about everything good that’s happened to me here.”

“…Oh.”

P.S. Her singing was pretty dreadful.
P.P.S. Did I mention I don’t like when people make assumptions about the kind of guy I am?