I walk up to three Japanese girls and say ‘Kanpai’. They turn in surprise and laugh, before we all clink glasses and take a shlurp from our drinks. The girl immediately to my left then looks at me and goes ‘hana takai! sugoi eeeeeeeeeeehhhhhhhhhhh’, and of course whenever one person here goes ‘ehhhhhhhhhhhhh’ it’s as contagious as the plague and so the other two girls join in quickly, ‘eeeeeeeehhhhhhhhh’, and eventually I even join in because I don’t know what else to do.
‘Hana Takai’ sort of means tall nose, but the jist of what she said is , ‘wow his nose is really big, amazing eeeeeehhhhhhhhhhhh’. I’m in Japan, one of the (if not the) most polite countries in the world, and within 3 seconds of saying hello to someone I am being called out on my big nose. But I’m not surprised, in fact, I almost knew that this girl would do it. Was this because I sussed her out before I said hello and could see that she was the blunt and bolshy type? Was it because I was feeling that my nose was particularly big that day? Just how did this modern day Poirot know? Well like any good mystery, the answer is simple; because people fucking tell me every fucking time I talk to them.
In Japan a big nose is considered ‘bery handusome’. Upon learning that I began to understand that people were not being rude nor abrupt, but were thinking that they were giving me a great compliment whenever they all pointed at my nose and huddled round me to inspect it.
But back at home a big nose, is well, a big nose. I’m not sure if it’s particularly ugly or attractive, but it’s something you’d point at and go ‘haha, you have a big nose’, and is generally an insult reserved for the French. Hence when the Japanese point at my nose, I can’t help but be more in tune with the kind of insulting implications it carries where I was brought up, and in turn find it difficult to be in tune with the positive inferences that they are intending.
It’s a strange situation having people thinking that they are being very polite to me, that they are complimenting me greatly, and yet not realising that in actuality they are just giving me a massive insecurity that I will burden for the rest of my days back in the west until the inevitable appointment with the L.A. cosmetics team.