Maybe I'll start by relating an encounter I just had a few minutes ago. Right now, I'm sitting in the coffeeshop on the ground floor of my apartment complex, writing this post. A few minutes ago, this older gentleman who is also a regular at this place came in and ordered his usual poison (a medium mocha and two (yes, two!) chocolate croissants). We know each other casually, and have exchanged a few words here and there in the past. As he was standing around waiting for his order to come up, he moved over to where I was sitting. At that moment, I was doing my usual coffeeshop act: Sit as inconspicuously as possible in a corner, stare very hard (or at least pretend to stare very hard) at my computer or at some book that I may or may not be reading, and simultaneously observe the world without drawing attention to myself.
Why do I put up this act? You may ask. Well, the reason is twofold: (1) I actually go to coffeeshops to get stuff done (including blogging). In order to do this, I try to socialize as little as I can get away with. (2) While little distractions like taking a couple of minutes to observe the world can be fun, and can be a welcome break from whatever I happen to be doing, I try not to be distracted for more than a couple of minutes at a time, because if I get distracted for longer than that, I get taken away from whatever it is that I am supposed to be doing. I know, I'm weird like that.
Well, in any case, the fact that this older gentleman noticed me meant that my act was unsuccessful this time. So, as I was saying, he moved over to where I was sitting, and asked me how I was doing ("Quite good", I replied). And then he asked me if it was snowing in Japan! Heck, I thought to myself, how on earth am I supposed to know if it was snowing in Japan? Do I look like some kind of global-weather geek who has some funny Iphone app that gives a moment-by-moment update on the weather in every obscure corner of the globe? (Full disclosure: I don't even own an Iphone.)
Or maybe (probably more likely) he thought I was Japanese, and would therefore know whether it was snowing in Japan. (Which is another questionable assumption: Would every Japanese currently in this country know whether it is snowing in Japan now?)
If I have to do this to save my life, I'll bet that it's snowing in Japan right now. (But that's beside the point.)
[Image taken from here]
In any case, why does everybody think I'm Japanese? (see this post) And I'm pretty sure I've told him before that I'm not Japanese. Annoying... But I decided to be nice. So I told him very matter-of-factly, with a very straight face, that I don't know if it's snowing in Japan. Which is at least the truth, if nothing else. He seemed a little taken aback by the matter-of-factness of my delivery. Nevertheless, not being somebody who is easily daunted by such matter-of-factness, he tried to pursue the same line of conversation further. He followed up with another question: "Now, where did that tsunami happen last year?"
"Uh... Japan." I replied, still trying to maintain the matter-of-factness of my delivery.
"That was bad, wasn't it?" He pressed on.
"Yeah, it was bad." I replied. (What do you want me to say, my man? That it was the best thing since sliced bread? That it should have been a bigger tsunami, so that more Japanese would have died, so that there wouldn't be enough Japanese hanging around to pull off another Pearl Harbor? Now that would have been some conversation, no?)
In any case, seeing that he wasn't going to get much conversation out of me, he walked away.
But maybe I'm reading too much into all this. Maybe he sincerely wanted to know whether it is snowing in Japan right this very moment, and maybe I struck him as some kind of global-weather-geek who would be able to satisfy his thirst for global weather knowledge. Maybe I should be nicer to people. Ah, well, now you know...