Since Erika is working and I am not, I try to take care of the apartment by shopping for food, cleaning and cooking as much as possible. I wrote out a list of everything that was needed and headed to Hallow’s to do the week’s shopping.
While I was picking out some tofu for mabodofu, two little 7 or 8-year-old girls ran up to me and started talking excitedly. I felt a little weird; a grown man talking to little girls at the super market might be considered a little creepy in the US. They asked me if I would be their friend and I thought “what the heck, sure, we’re friends” thinking that would be the end of it. They ran off excitedly and I resumed my shopping.
As I was looking at chahan (fried rice) mixes they ran up again. I think they were playing tag but became distracted by my foreign-ness. They asked what my terribly scribbled shopping list was, and I told them it was just a list. They were excited to see something so exotic, and ran off to play some more tag.
Then, when I was looking at soy sauce, they ran up with another little girl to introduce us. This girl was more shy. They told her, “watch! he’s SOOO good”, and then turned to me and said “say it!”. “Say what?” “English.” “What English?” She was a little frustrated that I didn’t know what she was talking about, and she stuck her finger into my shopping list. “This English!” “Oh, oh, uh, sure. Ahem. Sour cream. Olive oil. Chicken Thighs…” This elicited impressed squeals from the girls. “Wow! He’s so good!” They than ran off again.
They came back again later to ask me how to say “hide and seek”, which they could not pronounce, so I gave it to them again in katakana-English (haido ando shiiku). They knew cat and dog, though. They came back one final time when I was looking at onions to asked me the darndest question. “Hey, um, sensei [they assumed that because I was a foreigner that I was an English teacher], how did you get SOOO good at English?” This caused me to laugh heartily. I explained to them that I spoke English as a child, as did my family, and I didn’t learn Japanese until I was 20. This elicited only puzzled looks from them. English is so hard; why wouldn’t you just speak Japanese? They obviously learned English without learning about other countries in school. They then ran off again to continue their game of かくれんぼう (kakurenbou).