Saturday, December 31, 2011

Helmet Club

Language is funny.

Asao, my Japanese tutor, asked me the other day, "がおもちです?"

And I replied in my robotic Japanese, "Yes, I. have. a. pet. It. is. a. dog."

And she said いいな~~ with a pleased look upon her face.

I asked in robotic Japanese, "And you, Asao-san, do. you. have. a. pet?"

And she relayed to me that at the present moment she did not. However, as a child she did. She used a word I didn't know and cannot recall now. "わかります?" she asked, and I indicated that no, I did not know what that word meant.

"Like a small parrot," she said.

"Aah," I said いいな~~with a pleased expression upon my face.

Then she started talking about something else, but I thought we were still talking about small parrots. "Helmet Club," she said. "Do you know?"

"Helmet Club?" I asked. "No, わかりませ."

She gestured with her fingers, miming as if she were placing a strawberry atop a cheesecake, or, more appropriately, putting a small helmet on a small parrot.

"Helmet Club?" I asked.

"Yes, Helmet Club," she assured me.

WTF, Asao? I had visions of her belonging to a club with other Japanese children who also had small parrots, onto which they would place small helmets. Was this a school-sanctioned club? Were they bicycle helmets? Helmets of Trojan warriors? And what did they do once the helmets were on the small parrots? Take pictures? Make the small parrots battle? I was so confused and at such a loss that I simply couldn't let the matter go. I had to understand.

"Helmet Club?" I asked again for the 3rd or 4th time.

"Yes, you don't know?"

No, absolutely not. "I don't understand Helmet Club," I said.

"Sea shore, along." Asao explained. "Look for empty shell..."


Hermit Crab!