March 18, 2008

Now you're a ramen man!

There are sociology and cultural lessons everywhere if one looks (and has the time to make stuff up). Case in point: ramen!

The third-years are gone, and a lot of teachers are eating lunch in the teachers room with us regulars today. The odd thing I've noticed is that almost all the rough, male teachers (ones that are less likely to wear business clothes and opt for things like track suits--no administration teachers) are all eating cup ramen with their meals. I have a couple theories why this could be happening (no proof at all here):
First, eating something beyond the main meal proves you are a virile male able to consume great quantities. Secondly, they are expressing their freedom, which kinda also ties into the maleness. Next, they gotta show up the other guys when they see ramen being consumed. A culinary pulling out of the rulers if you will. Plus, often in Japan, people follow rituals to be a part of the group and establish their identity. Even ramen eating can be a ritual in this society.

They can't do things like eat ramen in the classroom (students would feel shafted). Maybe they even get nagged for eating ramen at home due to it's junk food rep. So these special occasions are when the ramen comes out and the ritual of noodle-manhood begins with a manly "su-su-su" slurp.

I was just discussing my reasoning with a non-ramen teacher. He kinda followed me on the manliness, but he doesn't think being free has much to do with manliness (this could be due to my misunderstanding of what 自由 really means). I made the case that wild-men (kind of a set phrase here) are free. But it could be the opposite. They might not be free; they are locked into the ritual and group-mind. To do any less would be... unmanly. Free or not, I feel like it ties into the male essence.

I just thank heaven I decided to wear jeans today* so I can keep up. Not that they consider me part of the group anyways.
*I came knowing I would have no classes today. I wear business casual usually.