Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bless Me

Life abroad isn't easy to adjust too. But that's what makes it fun. With each encounter, you not only pickup something new but you're able to re-evaluate your native culture. Though forget language, food and holidays, the major differences between cultures rest within simple everyday things. For example, adjusting from the western handshake to bowing in Japan. While, I've obeyed the "When in Rome" creed, there is one stateside custom I refuse to abandon.

In America, when family, friends, or even the perverted crossing guard sneezes, we bestow upon them good faith by saying "Bless You," "God Bless You" (guilt-ridden sinners), or "Gesundheit" (morons). But if you dare to neglect performing this selfless public gesture, then prepare to meet your doom. According to a study I made up, 21.8% of all divorce cases can be traced to a spouse refusing to properly "bless" the other.

Though, it pains me, like a bag of full of black jelly beans, to inform you that the Japanese have no equivalent. Like most native wildlife, blessings are no where to be found in Japan. Sure, they'll take off their shoes, ask permission to begin eating, and will even bring you strange little tarts from EVERY PLACE they visit, but don't expect a gram of sympathy when your antibodies ready for war.

Instead of moral support following a sneeze, the Japanese instead adorn a medical mask and sneer at you until you act like a monkey and copy them. Sure it makes sense to prevent the spreading of germs, but it lacks love. And I am one mountain of a lovely man!

But don't be afraid, 'Bless You Man' is here to make a crappy attempt to save the day!

In the hallway, when a student ejects the boogers... "Bless you!"

In the office when a co-worker eight desks down nasally vomits... "Bless you!"

In the adjacent bathroom stall a guy sneezes... "BLESS YOU!"

According to fantasy stats, I'm shooting 96% accuracy within a 1km range. Metrically speaking, that ain't too shabby! Though sadly, my determination is often met with light chuckling, and not one Japanese person has stepped forward with a bless you of their own. And believe me, I blow into those tissues like a Nazi blowing up a kosher deli. While my comrads may view me as stubbornly wasting my time, they are simply blind to the potential of a fully integrated blessing system.

But today reality came sloshing down like boogers from a sick child. An hour before lunch my stomach was growling to be fed. Hearing the gastric cries my supervisor turned to me and said, "Bless you."

Exactly... "bless me!"


Dana said...

love it. I too insist on saying "bless you". Japanese might not appreciate it, but American expats will practically bless you back with gratitude for your observance of the custom.

craveVSworld said...

Thanks Dana. Together we can change this world, one sneeze at a time.

Lisa said...

Great play on words to express a very simple gesture of kindness, that I too feel is lacking. Nicely written.

craveVSworld said...

Thank you Lisa, I greatly appreciate it. We should re-wire that public PA system and have it repeatedly say 'Bless You' during flu season.

Rachel said...

As a child I always thought it was "Blesh You." Has anyone ever said that instead of "Bless You?" Just curious.

Jimmy said...

Steve, Japanese people don't understand the concept of the "blessing".

During the times of the black plague in Europe, the disease was deadly. If a person sneezed in front of you, it might be onset of the plague and they might be dead within hours. "God bless you" was literally a wish for God's blessing upon them in the face of their imminent death.

Now remember, Japanese people are not Christians, they are Shintoists, Buddhists, some are even Taoists. Japanese, or even Chinese people wouldn't say "God Bless You" because they do not believe in God, so they would not understand the concept of blessing somebody.

craveVSworld said...

It's still a nice thing to say, and as quoted above, it's one spec of American culture I refuse to let go of.

Thanks for the history behind it though, that's the cool!