One thing foreigners in Japan hear over and over again upon sitting down to a meal with a new acquaintance is the supposed compliment, "Oh, my! You use chopsticks so well!"
Japanese people who say this may have the best of intentions, but nevertheless, it comes off as demeaning. I mean, using chopsticks does not exactly require a lot of skill or talent. Little kids can do it. So praising me for being able to pick up food and put it in my mouth reminds me of Chris Rock's line about white people impressed that Colin Powell "speaks so well":
"Speaks so well" isn't a compliment. "Speaks so well" is some s**t you say about retarded people that can talk.So, over time, I've developed a standard response I use whenever someone comments favorably about my ability to use chopsticks:
Why, thank you for noticing my chopstick technique! It didn't come easy, let me tell you. I studied under a chopstick sensei every day for five years. My father took a second job to pay for the lessons. I even withdrew from school at one point to devote myself full-time to chopstick mastery. Long into the night, I would practice picking up dried peas until my fingers ached...I carry on in that vein until the other person realizes I'm being sarcastic. It usually takes longer than you'd think.