Wednesday, January 14, 2009
“How come your penis is so big?”
This was asked by my school friend, Tetsuya, in Japan, when we were bathing together at his house. We were both nine years old.
I had become pretty fluent in Japanese by the fourth grade, but I still didn’t know enough to explain circumcision in America. I gave it my best shot.
“Well, they cut it when you’re first born, so it’s just more ‘out there,’ you know, than yours. They do it in America, anyway, to newborn baby boys.”
Tetsuya was horrified. “They do not! You’re lying!” He even went to ask his mom (tattle on me, was more like it). She confirmed what I had said, with kind of an embarrassed smile on her face.
He was still horrified.
Now that I’m older, I realize male circumcision would sound just as horrifying to the Japanese as female circumcision sounds to us as Americans.
If you ever have the occasion to use the term ‘big penis’ in Japanese, say okii chin-chin (oh-kee cheen cheen) and see how impressed your listening audience will be!