My Pidgin is Better Than Yours
Say it right or say nothing at all
in your “nasty-nice” way.
Weren’t we playing by the same rules?
You sitting with a cigarette in hand, oh so cool,
“I am going to the toshokan after lunch, ne?”
“Can I meet up with you after you check out your books?”
“Jyaa… ano ne… toshokan no kaado chotto kashite, ii?”
Gomen, I, uhm, hit my quota on loaned books, really sorry.”
The disappointment on your face.
Your open palm for my card snaps back towards you.
Your cigarette, mashed into the tray.
Flashes of your anger. I was going to lose.
Realization stings like egg-drop soup being spilled onto a lap.
Of course, I envy your ability to switch from Japanese to English and back again,
like a ping pong ball ricochets and zings out of a corner.
“Ano ne, moshi tango tsukawanai nara, chanto shizuka shinasai.”
Should I be mute, really?
Japanese peppers through your conversations
and it’s all good
but not for me. (Is mine so like shrapnel?)
“Honto ni, kuki o yomeru.”
You stare at me.
Yes, I know a few Japanese idioms
and I can read you well enough.
Do I like you?
Your disdain for Tagalog and Chamorro
when Honolulu is your “hometown.
Peering through your 10,000 yen banknote stuffed wallet
You, the ichi-man yen Hime
Purring out your perfect Japanese-English mix.
Our last meeting
You greet me with an uncharacteristic “Aloha”
Yours meant Hello
Mine meant “Sayonara.”
I’ll take my friendship elsewhere
*toshokan: “library” in Japanese
*Jyaa… ano ne… toshokan no kaado chotto kashite, ii?: “So, I can borrow your library card, right?” In Japanese
*Ano ne, moshi tango tsukawanai nara, chanto shizuka shinasai: “If you don’t know the words, you should shut your mouth” in Japanese
*Honto ni, kuki o yomeru: “I can read the room, really” in Japanese
*ichi-man hime: “10,000 yen princess” in Japanese