Disconcertingly, my internal voice has started talking to me in the accent of Zelda the Destroyer, Ruth’s wrestling character in Glow. I have no idea why this might be, but it is particularly startling because I’m not having a lot of actual conversations at the moment, so much of what I do is narrated in this strange accent. I speak no Japanese–I haven’t even been able to work out ‘thank you’ yet. So there aren’t many opportunities for conversation, not even the small talk or the little jokes between people that we use to smooth out awkward interactions. Well, there was the man outside the 7-11 where I stopped to buy myself a sparkling water today (it’s hot and humid and I needed the sparkle) … there was a small bench outside the 7-11 and a few people were sitting on it so I sat down thinking it was probably more polite to drink my sparkling water there than as I wandered along the street.
I sat, and as I gingerly opened the bottle, trying to make sure it didn’t fizz on me, the man next to me laughed. It seemed like one of those things you might do when you’re sitting next to someone in the shade of a 7-11, and so I laughed with him. But then he started talking so I shook my head and said, ‘Sorry, English.’ ‘Ah, English,’ he said and I thought he was going to be one of those people who then starts a conversation in perfect English and makes a person feel embarrassed about their own lack of being able to talk to people outside their own language … anyway, he didn’t start talking in English, he kept talking in Japanese. It was about then that I realised as well as sparkling water it was possible to buy sparkling ale and I think he’d enjoyed a few out in the sun. I made my excuses as politely as I could given the circumstances and left.
And that’s about the extent of my conversations, my language barrier compounded by the fact that there aren’t really a lot of tourists here, or at least if there are they are lost in the Tokyo population. It’s not like visiting Paris where a person can hardly breathe for tourists and you get to the end of the day and wonder if you’ve even crossed paths with a Parisien. And while I’m not staying in fancy accommodation by any means, nor is it a hostel where people might go to the dining room to gather at the end of the day…mind you, even if I were at a hostel I’d probably be older than most of the other people and unlikely to get into any conversations there either.
So, having Zelda’s accent in my head is straight up weird. I will say that because it’s only in my head, it’s an excellent imitation of Ruth doing a poor imitation of a Russian accent. However excellent my imitation might be, I’m very much hoping that when I wake up tomorrow it will be gone.