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Blonde in Asia

Today, a Japanese girl told me that she was jealous of my blonde hair.
I asked her why.
"Because you don't have to shave your arms", she answered.
This is true, but it wasn't the answer I expected.
"Do you shave your arms?" I asked.
She held one arm up to me. "Yes." It was, indeed, hairless.
"I have many hairs on my arms", she continued. 
"Too many even to count".

The phrase 'too many even to count' is one that has many practical applications in Asia.
It's the number of people in China, for example.
Or the amount of bills you get back, when you change $100 US into Vietnamese dong.
This was the first time, however, that I'd heard it in reference to arm hair.

Glenns' Wonderings

Still, I shouldn't have been surprised.
In Asia, my blonde hair has led me into many interesting situations and conversations.
Too many even to count.

I've had flight attendants on Japan Airlines bring me extra drinks in return for the answer to a mid-flight bet. Two of them bet I was Swedish, one bet Dutch, and another bet German. They were surprised to learn that Americans often have blonde hair.

I've had a homeless woman sit by me in a park and stroke my hair for an hour. Unconcerned that I spoke no Japanese, she studied my head and happily told me all about the upcoming Imperial wedding.

I've even had hair stolen right off my back.
I was returning from a customer visit, wearing my best black suit, when my co-workers and I boarded a train full of schoolgirls.
As we talked about the meeting, we noticed that a pack of schoolgirls was edging closer to me.
Yuji whispered, "They're talking about your hair. They want one".
I told him that I would give them one.
"No", he shook his head. "Make them ask for it."
We waited, then Shin nodded, "There's a loose hair on your shoulder. She's going to try to steal it".

I could see the hand, out of the corner of my eye, but I let her take the hair. She turned around and showed her friends. They held it up to the light and studied it noisily.
At this point, I leaned up behind her and said, "Hey! That's my hair"
There was much shrieking and jumping, followed by apologies. Bowing slightly, she held out the hair like a business card, to return it to me.
Now, I broke into laughter.
"Keep it", I said. "It's a present".

Shin turned back to me and said, "I'm jealous. That blonde hair is a great way to meet girls".
"I'm jealous", countered Yuji, "because you can go home with a blonde hair on your jacket, and your wife will say nothing. If I go home with one, my wife will know I was at a hostess bar".
"Oh yeah. Only foreign hostesses will have blonde hair in Japan".
I lifted another hair off of my shoulder, placed it on his jacket, and we all laughed.
"Wow", I said. "I could bring down this whole country in a month."
He removed the hair and secretly placed it on the shoulder of a 50-year-old businessman next to us.
"Yeah, you could".

It's fun to be blonde in Asia.

GH 09/00
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