There is a lovely couple that bowl in my league Tuesday night. They are both 80. The husband (Art) is American and the wife (Toshi) Japanese, and they’ve been here since Art was stationed here 50 years ago. When I got out of my car this evening, Toshi came over with a little gift: stuffed cabbage rolls and rice. Toshi has brought me food before and it is always a treat. While I was bowling, Art came over to my lanes.
Art: Toshi told me what she gave you. I asked her why she gave away my favorite food. She said it was okay because she gave you her portion.
Me: She is spoiling me!
Art: As soon as I met her, I knew she would take care of me like my mother did. You know, my mother used to clip my toenails. Even when I was in the military, whenever I went home she’d still clip my toenails.
Honestly, I was a bit taken aback, and thankful that it was my turn to bowl so I didn’t really have to comment. I know that Art is a different generation, but is it ok to say you got married so you’d have another mother? (Ok, not his exact words.).
I was chatting with my teammate about this. She is a Japanese woman married to an American man, although they are closer to my age. She said, “Most men want either a maid or a mother.” Now, this could refer to most American men (or men, in general) who marry Japanese women. I immediately pointed out that I am good at neither – being a mother nor being a maid. We discussed this idea of American men marrying Japanese women a bit. Obviously, we see quite a bit of that here. Something is not going well, though, because the divorce rate of Americans who marry Japanese is 70%.
This brought me back to a conversation that I had Sunday with a 25 yr old American male (Brian) and an 30 year old Japanese male (Kudoh). Kudoh is looking for a new job and Brian asked him if he or his girlfriend made more money. Kudoh replied that his girlfriend made more. Brian asked if he was embarrassed by this. Kudoh said no, he’s not. Brian, who is recently married to a young Korean woman, said that he would be. I was shocked again. This seems like a very old fashioned philosophy to me, and I was shocked to hear it coming from a young American.
I know these are individuals and do not represent all men, but there are patterns that it is difficult to overlook. I wonder if these patterns are specific to my current community and culture, or if I have spent my life misunderstanding men.