Just recently, while wandering along one of the main shopping thoroughfares in Tokyo's Ginza, an older Japanese lady asked if I had time to complete a short survey on tourist signage in the area.
Barely a minute into the survey and the inevitable question was asked: "Are you single?".
"Yes," I replied, causing a token amount of shock and disbelief, quickly followed by a ripple of excitement through the lady and her mature colleagues.
"I have a beautiful daughter," the lady replied with an knowing smile.
I wasn't quite sure how my relationship status related to the positioning of Ginza street signage, but I was reading this lady's message loud and clear.
|This could have been me (the one standing)|
Suddenly I wondered if this survey was legitimate at all. Perhaps this was all just a well-orchestrated ruse by these desperate mothers to trap potential bachelors.
Surely an E-harmony account or Gumtree ad would be simpler than standing on a windy street corner screening candidates?
Now, I don't think for a minute it was my phenomenal looks and gentlemanly charm which attracted the attention of this lady. I pretty much think punch-happy Chris Brown could have run them over in his porsche and still be considered a worthy candidate for the role of "son-in-law".
From the Meekong Delta across to the markets of Beijing, I've had similar approaches. I think desperate mothers think being single, tall and alive are particularly desirable characteristics for a husband. (And they may have a point.)
Once identified as single, you're then subjected to additional screening in an attempt to isolate if there is an obvious defect.
"Why??" they plead with their head titled. Placed on the spot with such impromptu, presumptuous and direct questioning I find it hard to cough up a response they would find suitable. Foot odour? Gingivitis?
I wonder what their daughters would think if they knew their mothers were out soliciting potential husbands for them?
Replace the time and place and it feels almost like scene from a Jane Austen novel.
After all this time, is a mother's work not done until the daughter is packed off to a husband? Would this magically guarantee a life of health, happiness and prosperity for all?
Hurriedly, I complete this Japanese lady's survey and make my excuses for a speedy exit.
She looks slightly dejected. Looks like today isn't going to be the day she finds a suitable candidate for her daughter.
But then I turn back and see she has she spotted another single gent to approach with her survey.
Hopefully he has all the right answers she's looking for.