Scent of a Foreigner


One of the cute fourth graders at my Thursday school is always fascinated by my scarves. Japanese schools, generally being concrete and unheated, require one to bundle up a bit to stay warm. My favorite costume is a long sleeved shirt – like a mock turtle neck – under a flannel or wool shirt (which I usually leave unbuttoned) plus a long scarf to keep my neck (and my body a little) warm. So, this little charmer always asks if she can have my scarves.

Let me just drift aside a little and say, I think that the fourth grade students are probably the cutest. Of course the first and second graders (and, of course, the Kindergarden kids) are cute as a button and speak in funny broken sentences and such; however, by fourth grade they are able to put good sentences together, while still showing amusing childish thought processes: often simple and innocent, sometimes goofy or unaware. Also, they still have some of the babyish cuteness, but also are starting to have more adult facial features. Moreover, they are still pretty devoid of purposefully selfish mannerisms that start to pop up closer to entering junior high.

Back on topic, today the fact that I had on my broadest and thickest scarf led me to action. Normally, I just grin at her and say something about how my neck will get cold. Wrapping this spongy blue fleece scarf around her neck, I consumed the bottom half of her head. At first, she was commenting on how large it was. Perhaps she didn’t fully grasp the difference in size between an 80kg teacher and her 30kg frame; after all, the scarf looked just right on me. She drifted into comments about how very warm and comfy it was.

Her final comments took me off guard. She said, “It smells like a foreigner…” Her neighbor leaned in closer and in dialect uttered, “Foreigner scent… isn’t that great?” Actually, I got a little sheepish because I was thinking it might need a washing. I hope they aren’t going to go through life pining for a foreign boyfriend now.

Fond memories came back because I used to receive care packages from Japan in the early 90s and I always enjoyed smelling them when I opened the boxes. Indescribable hints of Japan would waft out and take me back with them. Had I continued receiving these bundles, I probably would have moved to the Land of the Rising Sun many years sooner; as in answer to the beckoning of some potion.


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2 Responses to “Scent of a Foreigner”

  1. Stefanie Says:

    How cute and how funny. I wonder what foreign smells like to them?

  2. びっくり Says:

    I sometimes use Old Spice Sport deodorant. I had at least one student before that loved that scent and associated it with me.

    Oh, gotta run to the skate rink, more later.

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