What was I, Danielle Crupp, doing on a flight to Tokyo? Especially with a name like Crupp?
My name had always been unremarkable until Japanese I class my freshman year at Rock Creek U. Taking roll, Murata-sensei got to me and stopped. “Uh, Crupp is not a good name in Japanese,” she announced. “We don’t have the u sound like in up, so we say your name with an ‘a’ like in ‘Cr-Ap.’” She shook her head. “You cannot be ‘Ms. Crap.’”
But then Murata-sensei gave me a real Japanese name, Kurohara-san, a lucky pick because, now as a “K”, I was seated alphabetically next to Megan McCarthy. Within weeks, Megan and I were sweating over dialogues, testing each other on Kanji, and cursing our classmates who had the advantage of being part-Japanese. By our second year in Japanese II, Megan and I were best friends.
At decision time for junior year, I fully expected to go for Japanese III, but Megan had other plans. “I’m applying to study abroad at Kowa University in Tokyo,” she told me. “It’d be awesome if you did too…”
“Me? Go to school on the other side of the world? Not happening."
But as I followed her Facebook posts that first semester, it sounded so great I just had to go.
The Japanese businessman in the seat next to me gave a kindly smile and said, "I hope you will have a wonderful time in Japan. By the way, what do you plan to do after you graduate? Will you use your Japanese?"
"Oh yeah. I want to work for the Convention and Visitors Bureau in my hometown, marketing to Japanese tourists."
"And where is your hometown?"
"I'm from Gary, Indiana," I said and sang him a few lines of the "Gary, Indiana" song from The Music Man. By the time I finished he was laughing so hard green tea was spewing out his nose.
That's how I learned that Gary sounds like the Japanese word for diarrhea. I start Norwegian next semester.
Opening: MC.....Continuation: John