Did you know "hippo" in Japanese is "kaba?" While pouring our drinks, the barkeep went to great lengths to explain the clever hilarity in spelling kaba backwards to make out "baka," or "idiot" (terminology already too familiar to amongst certain pockets of baka gaijin across Japan). I'm not sure if this was his revelation, or the one of someone more brilliant before him, but I still didn't follow.
So naturally, in the interest of facilitating potential comedy, I referred back to my own English experience--a practice I've come to rely on in such moments of cultural eyebrow-raising.
In the time between lifting the tumbler of crystal gin & tonic from its rubber coaster, and raising it to my lips, the following thought process occured:
So... That'd be like saying if "oppih" really meant "idiot" in English, then that would mean... No... Still not particularily funny. Well, what if "norom" was actually how you say "hippo," then that spelled backwards would still be... Hmm...
Not at all very funny.
Cool liquid, bitter, and wooden to the tongue, but with just the right amount of citrus. Refreshing. Traded the lime for a lemon. To his pun, I smiled instead. To the Japanese, I'm sure, our biting English sarcasm, and silly memes appear just as cryptic and unfunny.
Perhaps that was the approximation I should have made in the first place.
First month of the new year has come and gone. And cripes, it was a long one.