Monday, May 29, 2006

Pointless Q & A

On this Japan trip with my family, I discovered a trait about my dad: he can answer any question. The answer may not be right, but it'll be self-consistent and sound highly reasonable. For example, waiting for our tour shuttle outside the airport:

Me: I read in my tourbook that there are now over 10,000 Japanese people over age 100. Why do you suppose they live for so long in this country?

Dad: It's cold in the northern parts of Japan.

Me: So?

Dad: It's like food. If you freeze it, it doesn't go bad as easily.

I also discovered a trait about myself: I really like getting answers to questions, even if the answer and/or the question is entirely pointless. I love it so much that sometimes I end up angering other people who don't share this trait. The most memorable backfiring occurred 4 years ago, when I still worked at Microsoft:

Adam (coworker on Flight Simulator): [eating sandwich] Oh, this is better than the pizza I had last night.

Me: How come the pizza was bad?

Adam: It was cold.

Me: Why didn't you microwave it?

Adam: I did. The edges were warm, but the middle was still cold.

Me: Why didn't you take it out, eat the edges, and then put the middle back into the microwave?

Adam: I -- Because -- Where the fuck do you get these questions from?????


Tonight I discovered that a member of our tour group, a tall Chinese man in his mid to late 30s, also shares the trait. Tonight was "free time" for the group, so our guide showed us a few restaurants and shops and then set us loose. I went to a nearby department store and purchased 3 sets of false eyelashes, one with crystals, one with metallic glitter, and one with red and orange lashes.

Japan has far and away the best selection of false eyelashes I've ever seen. This is because Japanese girls are obsessed with making their eyes appear bigger. Walking down the street has been an eye-opening (ha ha) experience of witnessing all sorts of eyeliner tricks, gobby mascara, and insanely curled eyelashes.

Afterwards we went to the ramen shop voted the best out of the hundred in Tokyo. We ran into the tall Chinese man outside it.

Tall guy: Hey, look, it's you guys.

Me: Yeah, we're going in for ramen.

TG: I was here a couple hours ago with Cindy (tour guide) and a few others, and I ate two separate dishes of ramen!

Me: Ah, I see. ... [moments later, as pointless-question-trait overcame social inhibitions] So did you eat at the same speed as everyone else so that they had to wait for you during the second round, or did you eat twice as fast so that you finished at the same time?

TG: I could tell after the first bite whether the ramen was good. I ordered the second dish when I was halfway through the first dish, so it already arrived by the time I was done with the first one.

Me: Ahhh. [pause] So why did you wait to order it halfway through if you already knew after the first bite?

TG: [earnestly] They cook the ramen quickly, so if I ordered it after the first bite, it would get cold while I was eating the first bowl. So I timed it for when I was two-thirds of the way through the first bowl, so that the second bowl would arrive hot just as I finished the first.

Me: [extremely satisfied] That's excellent strategizing.