There’s this tendency to play at being a puppy when you’re a white foriegner in Japan.

“Look at you saying hello in Japanese, aren’t you so cute?”

“What a good girl, you used the chopsticks!”

And then you, the white foreigner, jump up and down and wag your tail because you’re being praised, and despite your understanding that you’re being praised for everyday things that a MONKEY could do, you’re just so caught up in the moment that you can’t help that stupid goofy smile on your face.

I hate that Kirsten. Being puppy Kirsten is okay for like two seconds, but remember, when you’re a puppy, people get tired of your bouncing and put you outside in the backyard.

I think that’s one of the major reasons I couldn’t live in Japan for years on end; you can’t escape the fact that as soon as you go outside your normal neighborhood, your stores where everyone knows you, the schools where they already know the “gaijin” mom speaks Japanese so it’s rude to talk about her right in front of her face because she understands, then people will start treating you like a puppy again.

I’ve been human for the past year and a half. I’ve had a few instances of “Your Japanese is so good,” but I’ve mostly been able to wave those off and ignore the temptation to become a puppy. It is my country, after all.

Last friday morning I was at a garage sale at a Japanese person’s house in Beaverton. I got there right when it opened because the Japanese community literally descends en masse on any garage sale offered by Japanese returning overseas to Japan and grabs up all the good stuff in the first half hour.

Two of the helpers were trying to figure out the price of a water sprinkler that I couldn’t find a sticker for and I answered them in Japanese.

And they both cooed and clapped their hands and remarked in high, suprised voices on my ability to speak Japanese.

All of a sudden I found myself smiling and wanting to bounce on my heels and wag my tail.

Yikes. It never goes away, does it? I’m not that Kirsten anymore, and I felt very strange having a puppy moment here in Beaverton.

I guess that’s what I get for purposefully surrounding myself with the Japanese/International marriage community here.

Woof.

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