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Embarrassment Abroad: Nightmare in Japan

Embarrassment Level: 2 + 1 bonus point = 3


Embarrassing yourself in public is bad enough. Embarrassing yourself in public in a different nation is a whole new scale of bad, because not only have you ruined your own reputation (sort of), you have tarnished the (arguably) good name of the nation from where you come.

Take for instance, me, in Japan. I’ll even let you know the grand denouement of the story: an elderly Japanese couple stood and pointed at me and laughed. Yup. No kidding. Two friends can corroborate this but for the sake of my own protection and theirs, I’m leaving all of us anonymous.

So let’s set the premise: I hate scary movies/horror movies. I watched one in Spanish class because we had to, and I was so scared that my biology teacher (in the next period) asked me if I needed to go to the nurse/if I was feeling okay. Now we’re in Japan, and we’re trying to watch Finding Dory. The English version isn’t available, so instead we somehow decide unanimously to watch The Conjuring 2.

I, being a sheep, was roped into groupthink, and somehow agreed to watch. I was so scared the whole time, that I watched the movie through the bars of my fingers over my eyes.



In fact, it’s so scary that one of us leaves in the middle–but said person was not me. So finally, the movie ends, yay! Trembling, I walk up the stairs, still feeling so freaked out. (Actually, I was close to running away.)



But I tried to remain like the calm, serene person that I never am, and suddenly, I feel it. Ice cold claws, jabbing right into my sides. The hands of the demonic nun, gripping me right below the kidneys, snatching at my precious organs–my soul leapt thirty feet into the air, and my physical body leapt about half a foot before crumpling into a sad little heap on the ground.

Somebody screamed–a horrible, shrill scream. A scream like there’s no tomorrow, or even the next moment. A scream that reverberated off the walls of the movie theater. A scream that chilled me to the marrow. And yes, I was the person who screamed and fell at the door of a Japanese movie theater.

About five seconds later, my soul had reentered my body, and I heard laughing. Laughing from the friend who jabbed me in the sides, laughing from my other friend, the guilty beyond reasonable doubt bystander, and laughing coming from an elderly Japanese couple. That’s right–they were probably in their seventies, had finished the movie unscathed, and were endlessly entertained by my public meltdown.

I laughed with them, cheeks still flaming from my public disturbance, and proceeded to slink away like a defeated squirrel. I can still hear their mocking laughter, to this day…


harvard contributor
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