I found myself in divorce court down at 80 Centre Street this morning. An Asian woman was sitting in one of the two chairs outside the hearing room. I sat down to wait for my lawyer, introduced her to my future ex-wife, and upon hearing her accent realized that I had a chance to practice my Japanese. It was fun. She was attractive, pleasant and appropriately astonished to discover a barely competent Japanese speaker in the bowels of New York's court system. I asked her where she was from, told her where I used to live, and we talked about New York for a bit. Later I went across the room and spoke to her future ex-husband too.
Japanese people make you feel so good about speaking their language. They are sincerely surprised and delighted, like they've found a talking dog, until eventually they have to remind you that even though you can speak you're still a dog. Luckily I broke it off at the surprise and delight stage and it set the tone for a not-too-painful session with the judge.