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Saturday, July 26, 2003

WHEN EAST MARRIES WEST

A hundred columns of words on the wall


This is it: the one-hundredth edition of "When East Marries West." At least by my count, and, as my wife says, "You should know -- you're the only one who reads it."

To prove how wrong a woman can be, I now offer but a small "sampling" of the mail I have received through the years, plus my responses. "A small sampling is all you have," says my wife. My response: "Go away."

Dear Mr. Dillon:

I have read your column several times now and have come to notice there is never a photograph. Is this because you are ugly or what?

Curious in Hokkaido

Dear Curious:

Go away. No . . . let me explain. The truth is I have never been photographed. Not even I know what I look like. Especially since -- as we are all aware -- mirrors lie. Therefore, even if The Japan Times ran a photo, I couldn't guarantee it was me. My wife and kids back this reasoning, as can be seen in this supportive quote: "We have no idea who this man is."

Dear Thomas:

You've been here a long time. What's the best way to learn Japanese?

I'll Do Anything to Improve

Dear Do Anything:

Be born Japanese.

Dear Mr. Dillon:

We in Germany find your column to be corny. Is that intentional?

High Standards in Koln

Dear High:

Do you mean "Kolny"? Ha, ha. Sorry, but that was punintentional. In reality, my columns are always subtle and droll. However, on occasion the Japan Times editors have been known to insert bad jokes as an evil prank. Rule of thumb: the funny lines are mine, the clunky ones theirs. Which means, depending on your point of view, they could have written this response.

Dear Know-it-all:

How come you never use the names of your family members in your column? Are you ashamed of them?

Keiko in Tokyo

Dear Keiko:

OK, this is MY memory of how it went. I first planned to write under a pen name. Yet a certain woman I live with said: "Nooo! If you write it, you should use your real name." So I relented, but also determined to salvage a wee bit of privacy by not revealing so much about my family. Then this woman said: "That's rather dumb. Everyone's gonna know anyway. What's between your ears? Rock? Or the last frontier?" However, I kept my word and have never used family names. So there. By the way, what's for supper?

Dear Mr. Thomas Dillon:

In your column, I find your wife is sometimes portrayed as a bit flighty and other times as exceptionally wise. You, however, almost always come off as a dunderhead. What's the truth?

Intrigued in Houston

P.S.: I am majoring in abnormal psychology.

Dear Intrigued:

The truth is we are both suave and intelligent, especially me. Perhaps your major has twisted you into one of those out-of-touch-with-reality readers with whom I seem to be cursed. I bet you also think the moon landing was rigged, Elvis never died and George W. Bush is the best president ever.

P.S.: Are you paranoid as well? Because I'm having you followed. Go ahead; check behind you. But be forewarned; my agents are really, really quick.

Dear Mr. Dillon:

I am sometimes astounded by your observations. I find it hard to take you seriously.

I Do 5,000 Pushups a Day

Dear Push:

Um, mine is mostly a humor column. That means -- and perhaps you should read this slowly -- there are moments when I am joking. The question you must now decide is whether or not this is one of those moments.

Dear Mr. Dillon, sir!

Your column rocks!! . . . There. I've said it. Now will you please pay my tuition?

An Abused Child

Dear Child:

Did you scream it out your dorm window? While waving copies of the paper? Send me a photo and I'll think about it.

Dear Mr. Dillon:

Gosh, I bet your impressions of Japan have turned topsy-turvy through the years.

Mr. Duh in Sendai

Dear Duh:

No, when I first arrived, I felt Japan was a mountainous nation surrounded by water, and I have yet to reverse that view. By the way, do you do pushups?

Dear Mr. D:

Don't you and your wife ever fight?

Wondering in Florida

Dear Wondering:

Sure. Don't ask if I ever win.

Dear Thomas:

Your writing sucks. How come?

A Friend

Dear Friend:

I dunno. Maybe I need a new word processor. As well as, it seems, a new friend processor.

Dear Tom:

How much of what you write is real and how much is fabricated?

Gotta Know

Dear Gotta:

Like, for example, this column now? Well, if you must know, When East Marries West is the only part of the entire paper that is 100 percent true. Everything else is made up, even the weather. Yes, this means -- in reality -- the Japanese economy is doing super, our world is completely at peace, crime and divorce are not on the rise and Dilbert is enthralled with his job. However, feel free to see life the other way, if you wish. In which case you might consider that I sometimes "fluff the pillow." Yet which world view do you prefer? As for me, my choice is clear.

Thanks for an even century of columns. The next 100 will surely be funnier. Says my wife, "They'd better be."

To contact Thomas Dillon, send e-mail to marriedtojapan@yahoo.com


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