I hope I never get sick while I'm here.
Just last night, I had the displeasure of searching for a Sudafed lookalike for a friend beset by the uncomfortable fruits of hay fever allergies. Rather than explain how difficult it is to find equivalent medicine in Japan for generic, everyday symptoms, much less define said symptoms in Japanese, I'll just outline my linguistic pharmaceutical train wreck in the following conversation:
Dagbert: "Hello, I'm looking for an anti-histamine type medicine...do you have anything like that?"But as I'm on my way out, she runs up behind me excitedly shrieking apologies, her waving hands clutching the box in the photograph at left. "Meh, close enough," I thought as I opened my wallet. How the shit was I supposed to know? But even "close enough" implies a certain degree of certainty, where in this case, I don't even have a flipping clue. Still, an oft-uttered sentiment in Japan where there's a little white box for everything but the common cold.
Cute Love Drug Clerk: "For sneezing?"
Db: "...No, more like for things like headache and congestion..."
CLDC: "I'm terribly sorry, but we don't carry crutches."
Db: "Actually, my friend says her head and her nose hurt. (emphatically points to own head and nose) Do you have anything for that?"
CLDC: (after several moments of thoughtful browsing) "This can loosen up your stools in three to six hours. When was the last time she pooped?"
Db: "No, goddammit! Allergy? Head? Pain? Hail Mary? Spanish Inquisition? Does? Not? Compute?" (I engage "survival language" and begin frantically flapping my arms, and beating my chest, all the while grunting and pointing)
CLDC: "Ohh! This is what you're looking for!"
(she hands me a box on which a pink octopus wearing a rhinestone cowboy hat is vigorously humping a centaur)
Db: "Cripes no! She's just sick! Not...well, you know...sick. You know what? Nevermind--screw this. She'll just 'ganbare' ok?"