Tongue Fu Panda

By Tomoko Parry

I have developed a rather un-Japanese characteristic since I moved to the United States.

If I am offended by something I hear or read, I want to strike back with a verbal or written blow.

I call my combative alter ego Tongue Fu Panda.

However, the Japanese part of me, which prizes patience and tolerance, feels guilty that I get into these kind of fights. I feel my mom would disown me if she found out how I behave over here in the US.

Maybe it’s connected to my use of English, a language which for me seems easier to use to assert myself than Japanese. But sometimes I overcompensate. And that makes me feel I should do something which the Japanese do all the time: I feel a need to apologize.

So I want to apologize to the hotel receptionist who I got into an argument with over room charges. She assumed that because me and my colleague had limited English we wouldn’t challenge the bill. But my words were very sharp. I admit, I overcompensated. Sorry.

I also want to apologize to the police officer I clashed with when I was working as an interpretor. Technically, I was supposed to just translate what he said, but I interrupted and pointed out that he should have explained the charges in more detail. He probably didn’t think I would do that. I’m sorry. I overcompensated.

It is not always easy to decide whether or not I’m overcompensating.  Sometimes, I feel it’s good to be assertive. Yet at other times, I go into fighting mode when there’s no need. 

I’m afraid I will have to live and learn. So, I would like to take this opportunity and apologize in advance to people who may encounter Tongue Fu Panda in the future.

I’m sorry. Or am I?

(Thanks to Dreamworks and DevaiantArt on Pinterest for the images)