Colds, Birthdays, Weddings, Divorces
Okay, I don't have a cold so much as some congestion and the sniffles, but its still annoying. I guess that is Mother Nature's birthday present to me. Oh yeah, I turn 27 tomorrow. woohoo. We are not talking about it, lets just say I would rather ignore it altogether.
So my brother's wedding is in June and I will be flying over a vastness of water called the, Pacific to get there. I have been telling my kids that I am going back to the US for the wedding and I was not expecting the responses I got, mostly from the girls.
This is the English translation of how most of the conversations go:
Me: Yep, in June I am going to America for my little brother's wedding.
Me: Yes, really.
Girls: So, your little brother is getting married before you?!
Girls: How embarrassing, you need to get married. (Also substitute shameful for embarrassing on a couple different occassions.)
Me: Hey, I was married, I am divorced.
Girls: Really, what was her name? Why did you get a divorce? etc. etc.
Girls: Well, I guess its okay that your brother is getting married then.
Me: Gee...thanks...you're all mean.
In Japan, as in other Asian countries, familial hierarchy is very important, especially between brothers and sisters. If I ask a kid if he or she has a brother or sister, they then ask, older or younger. Older siblings usually have more significance than younger ones and everyone in the family knows their place.
In the event of weddings, if a younger sibling is married off before an older one, people start to question what is wrong with the older sibling. I have heard of some Asian families having rules in which the younger kids cannot get married until their older brothers and sisters get hitched. This isn't so much a Japanese custom as it is a Chinese and SouthEast Asian one. But, if a younger sibling gets married first, it can sometimes be a great shame for the family and the older sibling. People wonder if the older sibling is a too ugly, too old, not very bright, not good with people, etc. The topic of weddings within families can be a very nasty one.
Times are changing though and Japanese women especially are waiting until they are in their late-20s and early-30s before tying the knot or even looking for a serious relationship. The latter is a downside for me, every woman I am interested in is either in a relationship or not even remotely looking for one....
Fortunately for me, I am divorced. Being divorced means you are good enough to get married but for one reason or another, things didn't work out. The key is that you were indeed married, if only for five and a half minutes. Therefore, I am not to be shamed by my brother's wedding and people will not be speaking ill of me any more than usual, what a relief.