It’s hard to imagine exactly what could make you so riled up that you would feel the need to flip your wife off and shout profanities across Ebisu Garden Place, but I – and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this – would really appreciate it if you could keep your negativity to yourself. Not only did the verbal abuse of your wife raise concerns about your anger-management skills and potential for violence, it also makes all of us foreigners look bad.
Like a lot of other non-Japanese living here, I try hard to play by the rules and, whenever possible, work to dispel the stereotype that all us gaikokujin, or gaijin if you insist, are just loud, obnoxious barbarians. But in the span of a few seconds, your thoughtless, immature and petty behavior pretty much negated all that.
I can imagine that in rough-and-tumble Springfield, Ohio, or Scunthorpe, UK, or wherever it is you called home before coming here, cursing at your girlfriend/wife/grandmother is simply a way of proving your manliness and gaining street cred. Fair enough (well, not really, but we won’t get into that here), but in case you’ve failed to notice, things are different here.
You appear to be married to a Japanese woman, so this leads me to believe that you haven’t just stepped off the plane. That means you’ve had ample time to observe Japanese society and discover that angry confrontation, voice-raising and expletives are not considered acceptable negotiation techniques. “So what?” you may say, “I’m not from here and I don’t need to follow the rules.” That argument might work if you didn’t already have a kid, but marrying someone and creating a family in this country means that you’ve agreed to abide by societal rules – at least the major ones.
Hey, if you don’t want to hand over your monthly earnings to your wife and receive a weekly allowance, that’s fine. Perhaps you don’t need or want a daily bento to be lovingly made for you – it’s up to you. But the nice thing about those kinds of choices is that they’re made in the privacy of your home and have basically no impact on innocent bystanders. The verbal assault in public, though, is something I’m quite sure your wife did not agree to when she accepted your proposal.
Oh, also, I know the baby you were pushing in the stroller was still pretty young, but do you really want his first English word to be a four-letter one? Just something to think about.
Thanks for refraining from making inappropriate gestures, shouting insulting expletives, and parading your jerky behavior in broad daylight in the future.
Melissa Feineman is a freelance writer based in Tokyo.
This commentary originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp).© Japan Today