When I was a lad I would often watch an American children’s cartoon called Hey Arnold. It was an odd cartoon, I don’t really recall anything of any note actually happening to the characters. I think maybe once they had a remote control boat race but that’s about it. The show did however introduce me to the concept of the stoop. The stoop is the staircase outside houses that leads up to the front door. In one episode of Hey Arnold they kept on going on about a ‘stoop kid’ who would just sit on a stoop all day and never leave it.
Well there isn’t a stoop outside my flat here in Japan but there is a small step and a local character who often sits there smoking. I have named him Stoop Ojii-san (old man) and I wonder why he chose this particular place to sit, maybe it is for this magnificent view:
Yes, he just sits there and basks in the warm glow of a vending machine, a strange pass time.
Like many old men in this country he can’t speak any English but he seems to like engaging me in conversation as I walk past him. Usually it’s just a quick konbanwa (good evening) greeting but occasionally he goes for something different. His favourite question is asking if the person I’m with is my girlfriend, even if it’s a man.
Yes, he has quite the developed sense of humour. Last night as I left home he tried his girlfriend line again, to which my friend replied with “Wakarimasen” (I don’t understand) and as we walked down the road she called back to him “I hope you have a good night tonight”. Instantly he retorted by saying…