12 - Talking to Girls in Japanese

The first time I ever kissed a girl was a total disaster.

Honestly, I'm pretty sure the phrase "total disaster" doesn't even do it justice.

I was 5.

And I was in love.

Or that's what I told my mom, at least.

There was this girl in my class, and I was absolutely determined to be with her.

So what do you do when you like a girl?

"Kiss her, duh." - 5-Year-Old Niko

Dumb kid.

You see, my first love betrayed me.

I walked up to her at story time--right after they turned the lights off. And I kissed her right on the lips.

It was AWESOME.

Well… until she told on me. Ratted me out to the teacher like a backstabbing bit---bitter-feeling girl.

And the teacher made me take a nap!

It was humiliating.

Upon reassessing my situation, I did what any self-respecting 5-year-old would do: I never spoke to to that cold-hearted tattle-tale again.

Long story short, I'm not exactly the best when it comes to girls. One little mistake, and it's all over. And you never speak again. So imagine my nervousness going on my first few dates with Rei (now my wife).

I would have been nervous to begin with, you know?

Like, what do you talk about on dates? What should I ask her, tell her? Should I try to pay for everything? Should I insist if she offers to pay?

Take all of that stressful stuff, then do it in a language you suck at, in a culture you don't really understand all that well.


↑ (Our 3rd date was cherry blossoms at night in Nakameguro. For the first hour or so, I was really nervous, because I didn't know how to make small talk in Japanese all that well. The right side of the lantern says 目黒川桜まつり [megurogawa sakura matsuri], "Meguro River Cherry Blossom Festival.")↑

Recipe for disaster.

Actually, the first time I went out with Rei, we split the bill, because someone had told me you're supposed to split the bill with a Japanese girl.

Then like two days later, I was talking to a student--this lecherous middle-aged man named Norimitsu--and he was like, You didn't pay for her?!

"I thought I wasn't supposed to, Norimitsu!!"

So now I'm like, okay, Date #2. I have to pay.

And I texted Rei, and I said:

ごちそうするよ。
gochisou suru yo.
I'll treat you (to food).

One of the first phrases you may have learned in Japanese is ごちそうさまでした (gochisousamadeshita), yeah? It's that thing you say after having a nice big meal (that someone made for you), and it pretty much has no good equivalent in English other than, "Thank you for the meal," or "That was delicious," or something like that.

Well, we can just take first half of that ごちそう (gochisou), which means something like "a feast," if I'm not mistaken. And then we can shimasu it!

In other words, we can add the verb する (suru) to it, meaning "to feast someone." That is, "to treat someone:" ごちそうする (gochisou suru).

Oh, by the way, my Japanese was still pretty atrocious at this point. So I doubt I said anything as accurate or natural as this. I probably blurted the roundabout equivalent of "I'm a lame gaijin," or something like that.

I digress.

とにかく (tonikaku / "anyways")…

ごちそうするよ。
gochisou suru yo.
I'll treat you, yo!

And then she came back with:

いいの?ありがとう ^_^
ii no? arigatou
Really? Thanks!
(Literally, that's, "Good?! Thanks!" Which is ridiculous.)

To tell the absolute truth, that is what Rei thinks that she said.

But I'm almost positive that she said this:

割り勘でもいいけど。
warikan demo ii kedo.
We can just split it.

This is such an awesome phrase, I think.

The most common word for "the check" or "the bill" at a restaurant is お会計 (okaikei), but another word for this, which is used a bit differently, is 勘定 (kanjou). I almost never hear this word, which also means "calculation" or "the check," but every once in a long while it does seem to pop up at eating establishments.

Then we have the verb 割る (waru), which means "to divide" or "to split up."

So to 割る (waru) a 勘定 (kanjou) is to split up a check!

And 割り勘 (warikan) is a noun meaning "a split bill; going halves."

Rei claims that she didn't say this, because the nuance would have been that she didn't want to go on a date.

Makes sense, yeah?

Dude: I'll pay for your dinner.
Beautiful, Aloof Princess: That's okay. I'll pay for myself.

But I'm pretty sure that's what Rei said. And then I probably responded with something like this:

連れて行ってあげたいんだ。
tsurete itte agetai n da.
I wanna take you out.

There's a lot going into this last sentence.

So much, in fact, that I'm going to save it for tomorrow.


Bonus Phrases:

目黒川桜まつり だって。
めぐろがわ さくら まつり だって。
This says it's the Meguro River Cherry Blossom Festival.
Literally: Meguro River + cherry blossom + festival + is + tte

ごちそうさまでした。
ごちそうさまでした。
Thank you for the meal.
Literally: feast + was

とにかく早く行こう。
とにかく はやく いこう。
Anyways, let's get going. // Anyways, let's go soon.
Literally: anyways + early + let's go

お会計お願いします。
おかいけい おねがい します。
Could I get the check, please?
Literally: check + please

お勘定お願いします。
おかんじょう おねがい します。
Could I get the check, please?
Literally: check + please
Note: お会計 (おかいけい) is more common.