I once told some Japanese women that I ate penis soup.
Their giggles told me that of course, I was completely mistaken. I hadn’t eaten penis soup at all. What I ate was just a mere vowel away from wang slang, but I had only been in Japan for a few weeks and didn’t know my Godzilla from my Mothra. In fact, I knew hardly any Japanese at all, except for what I had picked up in Toyota commercials and The Karate Kid (“Toyota” and “Karate”). The first words I learned when I arrived in Japan were “strawberry, “beer,” and “bar”; food, drink, and a place to get food and drink. So clever!
One of the things I love about learning a new language is the mistakes. All the really spectacular, hilarious, amazingly embarrassing mistakes. But you know what? At a certain point, you're like "Who cares? I'll never see these people again! Don't tell me how to live my life! I'm going to keep making mistakes and have fun with it!"
Of course, then you realize that when you call someone at work a pear-dog, the odds that you will see that person again AND that you will henceforth be known as "Peardog" are quite high.
And then you shrug, realize mistakes are expected and necessary and bond with your co-workers by inventing fruit-animal nicknames for everyone. Because seriously, when you accept the fact that you will make mistakes, you’ll be a lot more willing to try something new.
Don’t believe me? To recap: I told two lovely, middle-aged ladies that I ate penis soup. And wanted to eat it again.
Laugh it off. You really can’t punish yourself too much. After all, it’s just soup.
Note to self:
“Chanko Nabe” is a delicious, one-pot soup famously eaten by sumo wrestlers in training and can be found in almost any nabe restuaurant. “Chinko Nabe” is not. But it’s really, really funny when you tell people you ate it.