“I’d like some pepper for my baked potato, please,” I said to the waitress in perfect Japanese.
Too bad I was in Frayser.
No, I was sitting in a restaurant in Tokyo.
Japanese is a hard language to learn. I mean, REAL hard!
In fact, linguists say that it’s the most difficult language for a native English speaker to learn. And I believe them. But I learned to speak Japanese because I’m an idiot.
OK, maybe “idiot” is a little too strong.
What’s a single word description for someone who isn’t afraid to look stupid in an effort to learn something?
Whatever that word is, that’s me.
I don’t really have a great gift for language. My mediocre grades in college Latin, Greek, and Hebrew will attest to my less than stellar linguistic skills. But what I lack in natural ability, I try to make up for by being stubborn and tenacious. Plus I hate hate HATE BEING stupid. Looking stupid doesn’t bother me. BEING stupid does.
I was highly motivated to learn Japanese because I was weary to death of looking AND “being” stupid. If you’ve ever traveled to a foreign country and been dependent on a translator then you know what I’m talking about.
Thing is, if you’re just a tourist for a few days it really doesn’t matter. So what, you can’t read? No big deal. You can’t speak and you have no idea what anyone is saying to you? No worries. You’re a tourist. It’s all good. You’ll be gone soon.
But when you’re NOT a tourist it IS a problem.
The stuff that’s in your mailbox is a complete mystery. You can’t really distinguish the junk mail from the important stuff. And not being able to express yourself or understand what is being said to you becomes a huge source of discouragement and frustration. And the ringing of your home phone makes you break out into a cold sweat.
And getting lost is a daily occurrence. You can’t read the street signs. I used The Force a lot to navigate around Tokyo.
If you aren’t willing to look a fool, you’ll never learn a foreign language. One of my American friends in Japan was probably much smarter than me. He had, after all, a BA from Boston College and an MA from Harvard. But even though he’d lived in Japan longer than me, and was a good deal more cultured than me, my Japanese was way better than his. He just couldn’t stomach the idea of looking foolish. I guess that’s one of the heavy burdens of being a Harvard grad. You have to be the smartest guy in the room. But when you’re from Arkansas, the intellectual expectations are fairly low.
So there I was. I’d lived in Japan for about three months and was making my first solo trip to a restaurant without a bi-lingual Japanese friend to help. And even though I was pretty nervous, I’d successfully ordered my food and the exact thing I’d ordered had actually arrived at my table. Sweet! And now I wanted some pepper for my baked potato. Typically Japanese restaurants don’t have pepper on the table. You have to ask. So … I asked.
The waitress looked at me like I’d just grown a second head. But I got that a lot anyway. “hmmm?” I thought. “I guess the Japanese don’t eat much pepper and they don’t use any on baked potatoes,” I reasoned.
She stood there with a confused look on her face, so I launched into a full explanation about how Americans love pepper and how all the restaurants in America have pepper on the tables. I was quite proud of my ability to explain all of this in my kindergarten level Japanese language skills. Despite the look of bewilderment on the waitress’s face.
She disappeared into the kitchen behind the swinging kitchen door to get my pepper. I waited patiently and proudly. But within a couple of minutes I heard uproarious laughter come from the kitchen.
That was my second clue that something might be wrong.
The kitchen door then swung open just enough to reveal the waitress and the five or so Japanese kitchen staff clustered around the small door opening … just wide enough for them to get a look at ME. The waitress pointed at me … as if that was necessary. I was the only foreigner in the place. The door closed again and another round of laughter erupted from the kitchen.
The waitress, fully composed and looking professional, came from the kitchen with the pepper. She set it down on my table, smiled, and repeated the word I’d used for “pepper” with only a slight variation. As if to say, “Here’s your PEPPER.” I said thank you and then … as soon as she was out of range, I snuck my Japanese/English dictionary from my briefcase.
There I discovered the problem. I read that the word I’d used … was NOT pepper. It was something else. And the pronunciation between the word I’d used and the word that she’d used was only slight. I mean, slight. If I said the two words to you, I don’t think you’d notice the difference.
What was the meaning of the word that I had used?
The Japanese have a word that is used for, well, basically anything that comes OUT of the body.
Yep. That’s right. Think the worst and you’d be right. (It kinda rhymes with “shift.”)
I had taken great pains to tell the waitress that we Americans love “shift” on our baked potatoes. Why, we love “shift” so much that we have “shift” on the tables of our restaurants. We’re just crazy for “shift!” We put “shift” on our eggs, and in our soups, and …
Well, shift happens. And it usually happens when we get out of our comfort zones. My Harvard buddy was only willing to get out of his comfort zone just so much. He wasn’t willing to be foolish enough to order shift for his baked potato. And consequently his Japanese was severely limited. He couldn’t speak Japanese for shift.
Out of the comfort zone and into the spotlight where you’ll more than likely look stupid is where you’ll also probably learn something too.
There are experiences to be had and a world to explore that will require you to step out of that comfort zone. No one has actually died of embarrassment, so why not go for it?
And so long as you know who you are and are comfortable in your own skin, you can plunge headlong into the river of fun and new things! Who cares if you look silly or sound ridiculous? You’re still you!
This month is bring a friend to USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP month. Your friends can try it out for a whole week for FREE! No obligations and no strings attached. They won’t even have to give me their contact info. But they’ll have to get out of their comfort zone. And I’m asking you to help them.
You’ll have to help them get over their fears too. And you can do it. Because you care about them. You give a shift!
Hoping to see you and your friends on the Quarterdeck in April!
All classes will meet as usual on Friday and Monday.
APRIL IS OUR ANNUAL “BRING A FRIEND TO BOOT CAMP MONTH”
In honor of my friend Tom Farrar, you can bring a friend to Boot Camp during April for a FREE WEEK! No strings attached and no obligation to join.
The Boot Camper who brings the most friends in April will get $100!! US Legal Tender. Not 100 Dollars in Boot Camp Bucks! Real money!!
Here are the only rules:
1. Your visiting friends must be prospects for membership, so no out of town visitors will count toward your total number of friends for the contest.
2. Repeat visitors don’t count beyond their first visit – so you can’t bring your friend Bob 15 times during April and count it as 15 friends!
3. Friends who join are counted twice!
Your friends can join USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP for only $90 in April! That’s 50% off the first month’s fee of $180! Only your friends and family can take advantage of this deal.
Use Facebook to invite your friends AND get a discount on your enlistment at the same time! (See below)
RAMPED AND AMP’ED IN APRIL!
We’ll be ramping things up in April! Here’s the schedule.
The 0530 Class will meet regularly with these changes.
On Tuesday April 6 and 13 at the 0530 class, we’ll be inside for those rockin’ workouts that some of you guys will remember. We’ll be in the “other gym” the east gym … not the blue one that we usually use. Enter the Recreation Building off the north side entrance.
On Thursday April 1, 8, and 15 we’ll have BOGA in the blue gym at 0530.
On Tuesday April 20 and 27 we’ll have BOGA in the blue gym because we’ll be returning to the U of M for our “Mt. Fuji” workouts at 0530 on Thursday April 22 and 29. We’ll be using the parking garage (Mt. Fuji) on Zach Curlin at the U of M. You’ll hear more about this later.
The Tuesday and Thursday evening classes have returned! We are running at the track at St Agnes, located at Walnut Grove and Mendenhall, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 5:45.
You’ll hear more about April as the month goes! I’m back, boys and girls! And I’m bringin’ it!
By popular demand, in addition to the 0530 class tomorrow morning, BOGA will be on tap for the 08:30 AM and the 5:30 PM classes on Friday!
All BOGA workouts are inside unless I say otherwise! hahaha
BOGA is 22 minutes of hardcore Boot Camp + 22 minutes of Power Yoga = BOGA
LOSE THE WEIGHT – “TAKE SHAPE FOR LIFE!”
You could lose 20 pounds by June! NO KIDDING!
The secret behind weight loss is more about diet than exercise.
After my own personal success with Take Shape For Life, I became a health coach for TSFL. That’s how much I believe in it!
Seriously, y’all … it’s easy, it tastes good, you’re not hungry, you don’t starve, it’s affordable, AND you get to have “normal – regular” food too!
You can go directly to my Take Shape For Life website (below) to get more information. You can also sign up there as well.
Feel free to call me if you’d like more info. 901-644-0145. I’d be happy to be your coach and help you genuinely lose the weight you’ve been wanting to lose!
Go to: www.combatchallenge.tsfl.com
BOOT CAMP DISCOUNTS AND FACEBOOK EXPERIMENT!
So far this experiment has been pretty amazing!
Here’s how it works!
Make a Facebook status update and get a discount!
For every status update that you make that references:
“USMC Fitness Boot Camp,”
“Sgt. Tony’s Boot Camp,”
“Tony’s Boot Camp,”
or something similar, you can take $2.50 off your reenlistment fee!
Up to $20 off for any given month!
Your status update has to be a specific reference to USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP or to me specifically by name.
The deal gets better …
When one of your Facebook friends, who isn’t a boot camper, goes to the website (www.usmcfitnessbootcamp.com) because of YOUR status updates and contacts me through the boot camp website, you get an additional $5 off your next enlistment for a max of $20!
Your friend has to actually contact me through the website, not through Facebook. This will help to measure traffic to the website generated from Facebook.
AND … if someone joins because they learned about us through your status update, your next monthly enlistment is FREE!
Already FOUR of you have qualified for $40 off for April and your May enlistment is FREE!
So log on and get started now!
Race Judicata is scheduled for Saturday, April 10 at 10:00 a.m. The race will take place at Jefferson Davis Park, located at 51 North Riverside Drive and there will be food and music following the race. Check-in starts at 8:30 a.m.
The race is open to the public. Runners and walkers are welcome!
Strollers welcome! Food and Music Following the Race!
Race Judicata benefits Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS). MALS provides free legal service to the elderly and low income families. For more information about MALS, visit:http://www.malsi.org/
To register or donate an
What would you do today if fear were not a factor, failure were not an option, and money were not a question?
To your continued good health and fitness,
Sergeant Major Tony Ludlow
USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP, Commanding
Mailing address: 4888 Southern Ave., Memphis, TN 38117
Cell Phone: 901-644-0145