I’ve mentioned before that whatever you can say about Japanese culture, you can also say the opposite. Sometimes opposites even come in pairs. A case in point: how Japanese can be both direct and indirect at the same time. Directly indirect? Indirectly direct? Not sure which description fits best, but here’s the story…
Yesterday morning at breakfast, Japanese mom randomly said to my wife (in front of me), “Tim was really handsome when he married you.”
Being the pain-in-the-ass American that I am, I couldn’t help but put mom on the spot: “So you’re saying that I WAS handsome, past tense? That I’m not handsome anymore?”
Mom looked me in the eye, cocked her head, and said…nothing, lololol!
And with that, my wife and I burst out laughing.
In mom’s defense, it is absolutely true that I am not handsome. Where she’s wrong is that I never was. (She used to think that all gaijin were handsome until my aging face changed her mind. ;))