Today, in the YMCA locker room, a man tried to strike up conversation with me with the universal male subject of sports. Our city’s football team had won and he happily wanted to share this saying “We won!” I asked, “Who won what?” And the man looked at me like I had a third head.
I remember one night 30 years ago in Japan when I met a similar surprised face. It was late at night and I stopped in a pub-restaurant and ordered my favorite combo of Skiokara (squid guts) and Karaguchi Onigoroshi (demon-killer dry sake) and Natto (fermented soybeans). These are bitter, strong foods usually prefered by old Japanese men or yakuza (Mafia) types.
My Japanese was very good and I was talking to the cook and the other late night diners sitting at the counter around me. We talked about several topics for a half-an-hour when the pub’s TV started showing Sumo review clips for the day. One of the customers asked me what I thought about a certain Sumo player but when I said I didn’t know who he was, he looked at me with shocked and asked why I don’t know.
Geez, fluent in food, culture, language and more was not enough — I had to know their sports? Men are often like this when it comes to sports (and heck, women can be too). In Pakistan, I met astonished faces when I did not know cricket player’s names. I guess that I will always remain an idiot! Smile.