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Saturday, April 7, 2012
WHEN EAST MARRIES WEST
Texting in the proper context
What's wrong with this picture?
You're standing on a street corner and right at you strolls a Japanese beauty. Mahogany hair, walnut eyes, ruby lips, milky skin and a figure so lithe that Venus herself might sigh with envy. A figure outlined by an airy creation from some Parisian boutique and then accented by a swank Italian handbag.
The word "chic" follows her down the street like the trails to an expensive perfume. As do the eyes of every man along the way.
And the picture isn't fiction. Visit the Ginza, Omotesando or Roppongi Hills, and such beauties float by at ¥8.2 a dozen. (Uh, that would be about a dime.)
What's wrong is what I left out. Which is . . .
The smart phone pressed against her ear. And those ruby lips open to show a red tongue flapping like a windsock.
Now . . . is this view cynical? Sexist? Or just mistaken?
For the truth is half the time the beauty wouldn't be speaking at all.
Instead she'd be texting. Like mad. With her eyes lasered upon her smart phone screen.
Recently, I sat beside one such texting bombshell while on the train.
Sorry. Wrong choice of word. Texting machine gun. She tapped away at her phone with a soft rat-tat-tat-tat that took no prisoners.
Funny, but across the way sat another young girl doing the exact same thing. And it hit me.
What if they were texting each other? I mean, they aren't supposed to call each other on the train, right? And talking face-to-face is so passé. Besides, it's a waste of a good touch screen not to text.
Texting what? Well, I can only imagine. Man, can I imagine.
Kei: This 4eign guy bside me is so hot!
Tai: I no. I can c him sweatn frm here!
Kei: Yeah, he's like a puddl with eyes!
Tai: I no. N guess what? I think he's peakn at my panties!
Kei: O I dout that.
Tai: How do u no? U can't c what I c.
Kei: 4 1 thing, ur wearn jeans.
Tai: But he's a 4reigner. Mayb they have xray eyes!
Kei: He's just fasin8ed by the size of ur nose!
Tai: My nose! Hah! He's fasin8ed by my b-u-t!
Kei: Actualy, I'm not sure he's breathn. He might b dead.
Tai: Gr8. What do we do with a dead 4eigner? Leave him here?
Kei: No, let's drag him with us. 2 the hospitl. 2 meet cool yung doctrs!
Tai: N if he's realy dead? Then what?
Kei: We'll drag him to anothr hospitl. N get a second opinion. N meet more cool yung doctrs!
Tai: W8! He's movn. Drats!
Kei: He's reachn n his bag. 4 a gun? 4 a nife? Help!
Tai: No. . . . It's a book.
Kei: N it's not even manga! How boring!
Tai: What's it say?
Kei: How wud I no? The only 4reign word I can read is AKB48.
Tai: Y don't u speak 2 him?
Kei: R u nuts?
Tai: No. Tel him, "haro". That's Englsh, right?
Kei: But what if he's frm sum othr contry? Like Canada?
Tai: 4get it. I've a bettr idea. I dare u to put ur head on his sholdr.
Kei: U r supr nuts.
Tai: Preten u r aslep n put ur head on his sholdr.
Kei: But what if his sweat soaks thru my hair n n2 my brain?
Tai: I'll pay u ¥1,000.
Kei: Nuts is not the word 4 u. U r nsane.
Kei: . . . How's this?
Tai: Fool! How can u preten to b aslep if u r still usn ur fon!?
Kei: Oops. Do u think he noticd?
Tai: He smild. Eithr that or he swalowd his tong. It's hard to tel.
Kei: What if he speaks to me!? O m gosh! He's movn!
Tai: He's . . . getn off.
Kei: Shud we folow him?
Tai: Y not? I'm sure he'd nevr notice 2 girls with fons.
Kei: Yeh. No 1 evr notices. Peopl bump in2 me all the time. They must b blind.
Tai: Yeh, me 2. It's like they can't c me walkn when I'm lookn at my fon.
Kei: 2 L8! He's gone. But now the seats open. Com ovr.
Tai: No, it's mor fun 2 text you frm here.
Kei: I 1ndr who wil sit here nex. Mayb a cool yung doctr!
Tai: We can hope! Let's play dead.
Kei: Look! I alredy brok a nail! I'm halfwy ther!
Now, yes, I understand . . .
Somewhere along the line these girls changed from Ginza fashion models to teenage vaporheads. And somehow, someway they also had their Japanese chatspeak translated into rather botched English text message shorthand. Which, believe me, is as hard to type as it is to read.
But despite these slights of hand, I still hope the message communicated.
Which is . . .
Such fon use takes the b-u-t frm the eye of the bholdr.
The picture just looks so much better without it.