Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hairy. Definitely hairy.

"Yabai" (やばい - yah-bye) is another one of those interesting and convenient Japanese words for which there is no real English equivalent.  If you look on my favorite Japanese-English dictionary site, it gives the adjective meaning as "risky", "hairy", and, amazingly enough, "motherf***ing".  As an interjection, however, it is defined as "oops", "dang", or "uh, oh".  That's probably as close as it gets.

So what is a good "yabai" moment?  Let me give a few recent examples:
  • You finally get a tiny bit of free time, so you hurry to get your car's oil changed for the first time in months.  When you arrive at the place you've always gone for that, however, you find poles and cables blocking the entrances and a sign saying, "Closed until further notice." 
  • You're (finally) getting your car's oil changed at a service station you've never been to before, and you suddenly hear a loud, metallic crash from the garage followed by a long, low, "Yabaaaai..."
  • You're commuting to work along a very narrow, one-and-a-half lane street, and suddenly a big, old dump truck comes at you at high speed in the other direction.
  • You've booked 60 rooms at the only real tourist hotel in your area for a youth orchestra visiting from overseas, and when you try to confirm the reservation a month before their arrival you're told only 10 rooms are available.
  • A newly-hired coworker doesn't show up for work, and then a couple of days later his name appears all over the news telling how he was arrested for doing something reallystupid...
  • It's only a few days before midterm exams, and you suddenly find out from your students that the teacher in top charge of the course never really told you just what you were supposed to be doing...especially when it means you haven't covered material that will be on the students' exam.
  • You don't worry about it too much, because you have one more lesson to use to cover for the deficiency, but then you're told that lesson period has been swapped out to another subject without your knowledge. 
  • You make a playfully sarcastic comment to your wife/SO on the phone, hoping to cheer her up, and she responds by saying, "I'll see you later," in a really gelatinous, evil-sounding voice before hanging up.
  • You see moths issuing from one of your food cabinets.
  • The field trip your son has been so excited about is now just a couple of days away.  Unfortunately, so is an unseasonably early typhoon.
What's another good example of a "yabai" moment?


  • When oil reaches a hundred and fifty dollars a barrel...

    By Anonymous Dave, at 8:46 AM  

  • When you hop out of the car to lock the gate and come back to find the door has closed and locked behind you. The boss's dogs are in the car along with your cell phone, the engine is running and you are miles away from the nearest help. So you have to get a rock from the nearby creek and smash out your window.

    By Blogger Phillipa Scratch, at 8:52 AM  

  • How timely! Yesterday, when the thought of rain was faaaaaaaaaaar away from my mind, I emerged from my window-less office to an enormous downpour, flooding the sidewalks and gutters. Ever helpful, an engineer asked me, "Do you have an umbrella?"

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:56 AM  

  • When you asked your friend if she have any interest to see the Broadway musical play together and told her that I could purchase to 70% discount tickets; then she replied you with a very haughty tone via the phone said: "My friend is helping me to buy the ticket now, but we’ll reserve the highest amount tickets, can you afford?"

    By Blogger PinkPanther, at 2:58 PM  

  • You save ducklings from the storm drain only to accidently run them over later…

    By Blogger Swinebread, at 7:10 AM  

  • When all the suitcases are packed and closed and you suddenly realise that the only clothes available are the ones you're wearing.

    By Blogger Olivia, at 10:13 AM  

  • Dave
    Just stop buying it. That'll teach 'em!

    Aw, windows are overrated anyway.

    "Why, yes! I always carry one in a surgically-implanted sheath in my left thigh! Wanna see?"

    Don't you just hate sudden gully-washers?

    Pink Panther
    Sounds like it's time to get a new friend...

    That reminds me of that seal they rescued from the Exxon Valdez oil spill. They spent all that time and money to rehabilitate it, and then they released it back into the wild with much fanfare and media attention. A few minutes later an orca ate it in full view of the spectators.


    You could always give radical naturism a try.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 11:28 AM  

  • Radical indeed, it's about 14C and driving rain! Brrrr. I wore my winter coat and boots today.

    By Blogger Olivia, at 6:21 AM  

  • When you get to work, and look in your little "under the desk" fridge, and realize you forgot to put a new 2-liter bottle of Mt. Dew in it last night, so this morning all you have to drink is some warm Dew. Yabai!!!

    By Blogger DewKid, at 2:49 AM  

  • My therapist wants me to give up the mountain dew. Something about Type II diabetes . . . Made me wonder if i'd gone to the wrong appointment, in the wrong city!

    I have a new car window now, Yeah. although I was feeling like a true American Redneck with my garbage bag and duct tape rear window. I had arrived!

    By Blogger Phillipa Scratch, at 8:36 AM  

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