Why the hell would you want to rent a middle-aged man?
October 23, 2018 5:59 AM   Subscribe

Do you need some advice about adulting? Do you need to move something heavy? Short on fans at your gigs? No problem, Japan has you covered. If you have these problems, and if no-one else can help, and if you can find one, maybe you too, can hire an ossan!

Bonus

- renting an ossan and interviewing him! [SLYT 10m16s, subtitles available]
posted by Juso No Thankyou (46 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
Finally a backup career.
posted by DigDoug at 6:07 AM on October 23, 2018 [10 favorites]


How do I know I'm middle-aged? Those guys don't actually look that old. Older than me, but more of the "my friend who is a few years older than I am" than "different generation".

Actually, I could see being a "tell me your problems so I can help you be less sad" hire.
posted by Frowner at 6:15 AM on October 23, 2018 [8 favorites]


Wow. 1000Y an hour wouldn't even break the minimum wage here. Of course, as a contractor you get paid whatever, but I would guess that most ossan are doing this as a lark rather than for rent money. Perhaps that's obvious to other folks but ... you're not going to make a living at this.

And I am so disappointed.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:15 AM on October 23, 2018


I am also a middle aged man available for rent. I am good with tools, I make a pretty good chocolate cheesecake, I always have a dad joke at the ready, and as long as I'm around you'll never be the worst dressed person in the room.

Terms negotiable. References available upon request. Drug and disease free.
posted by bondcliff at 6:18 AM on October 23, 2018 [47 favorites]


So, this is tangentially related. I also apologize if I've told this story before.

Many moons ago I was invited to have dinner with a coworker and his wife. I had gotten along well with the coworker but had social angst about being essentially a third wheel at this meal, even though I was invited. I was single at the time, so I called around to various ladyfriends in hope that one of them would join me, but no luck. What to do?

The thought occurred to me - the afternoon of the dinner! - that I could put up an ad on Craigslist for a dinner companion. The companion would need to be a good conversationalist and also skilled in the art of not giving away that we were complete strangers. In return they would get a free meal and a wacky story to tell their friends. I was explicit in the post that this was not a date and there would be zero expectation of anything other than dinner attendance.

I got a number of replies, surprisingly, and settled on the respondent who seemed the most affable. We make plans. Fast forward to the restaurant, where I have sat down with my coworker and his wife. I look up, and my companion arrives. "Hi, ______!" I said, doing my best "I totally know this person" impression. Introductions are made, she sits down, and everything is going according to plan. Then, disaster.

"So grumpybear69," my coworker asks me, "how did you two meet?"

At this point it is important to disclose that I am a truly atrocious liar. Deception is decidedly not one of my strong suits. You would think this would have factored into my decision to hatch a plan entirely dependent on the ability to sustain a ruse, right? It did not.

"Uh," I said, panic rising in my throat. I looked at ______. "Uh, well, that's kind of a funny story."

And I totally spilled the beans on the whole arrangement. Thankfully being charmingly self-effacing is one of my core competencies, and the rest of the dinner went extremely well, all of us taking delight in the audacity of the scheme and its spectacular failure. At least it seemed that way to me - there's always the chance that my coworker and his wife were excellent actors. We haven't had dinner since.

Unexpectedly, ______ and I ended up going on a couple of dates and enjoying each others' company. It also turned out we had mutual acquaintances.

This is all a long-winded way of saying that I can totally understand why someone might want a companion for rent.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:54 AM on October 23, 2018 [53 favorites]


Do you need some advice about adulting?

Middle-Aged Man. Middle-Aged Man. He has powers and knowledge that are far beyond younger men. Middle-Aged Man. Caught between forty and fifty-five, accruing more interest, yet losing his sex drive. Middle-Aged Man. (SNL Transcript; clip from Hulu via Yahoo! View, and via Middle Aged Man.me)
posted by filthy light thief at 7:02 AM on October 23, 2018 [11 favorites]


Don't life-coaches basically do this, except get paid wildly more? A friend of mine was describing some of what she does for younger colleagues at her job and we were telling her she was selling lifecoach services for free.
posted by GoblinHoney at 7:06 AM on October 23, 2018 [4 favorites]


....judging from the advice in the Guardian article, I'm uh. I would not pay for this advice.

"Save up for retirement," "minimize the time you spend sleeping," and "work your ass into the ground" are... put it this way, I could see the appeal of getting this kind of advice if you have kind of shitty parents, but mine are just as terrible at giving meaningful advice and they do it for free.
posted by sciatrix at 7:09 AM on October 23, 2018 [9 favorites]


Short on fans at your gigs?

In order to be a seatfiller you must be able to use stairs, must be willing to split from your party, and you must realize that you may have to give up your place during the show. Having said that, most seat-fillers end up with GREAT seats that they keep for the duration of the show.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:10 AM on October 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


A couple of years ago a good friend of mine had her first baby. She asked a number of her friends to write a short note about anything they wanted to her daughter; the notepaper she gave us came with numbered envelopes, and the idea is she'll open one every year on her birthday. The one I was given was for her 27th birthday, I think (late 20s, anyway), and once I was finished I realized that everything I had written, while full of what I believe were lovely sentiments delivered with the best of intentions, was definitely Middle-Aged Dad Advice, which I suppose one eventually defaults to whether or not you have kids of your own (I do not).
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:16 AM on October 23, 2018 [6 favorites]


grumpybear69, that is the most fanfiction plot I have ever heard. If there aren't 3 million fluff fics with that storyline on Ao3 right now, there soon will be.
posted by brook horse at 7:24 AM on October 23, 2018 [6 favorites]


Bonus points for Tofugu's distinctly polite pop-up asking you to subscribe to their newsletter. I'm not sure I've ever seen a treatment like this before. It's sweet.
posted by neuracnu at 7:55 AM on October 23, 2018


The video narrator says that "ossan" is "a slang, slightly impolite" term. How rude is it?

I could see the appeal of getting this kind of advice if you have kind of shitty parents, but mine are just as terrible at giving meaningful advice and they do it for free.


Yeah, I saw my dad for the first time in a few months. His most active commentary concerned the rough ride of my car, and how I should think about getting a new vehicle. Mom's first words to me were not "Hello there!" but "Your dog got SO FAT!"
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:06 AM on October 23, 2018 [9 favorites]


In case anyone wants to rent my parents, they just gave me an impassioned lecture about how I Need a Car Payment, how Everyone Has a Car Payment, how it's Part of Being an Adult, and how Ughhhh, I Need to Get a New Car.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:22 AM on October 23, 2018 [10 favorites]


> "grumpybear69, that is the most fanfiction plot I have ever heard"

It's actually a reasonably common romance novel/story plot, to the extent that it has its own subgenre name ("Fake Relationship").
posted by kyrademon at 8:28 AM on October 23, 2018 [4 favorites]


In case anyone wants to rent my parents, they just gave me an impassioned lecture about how I Need a Car Payment, how Everyone Has a Car Payment, how it's Part of Being an Adult, and how Ughhhh, I Need to Get a New Car.

I imagine most MeFites know this already, but in case you don’t, this is some of the worst financial advise one can give. Almost nothing you could buy is a worse investment than a new car. You’re paying an enormous, insane premium on the peace of mind that there’s nothing fishy being hidden from you in the car’s past, and you lose an incredible amount of value as soon as you own it. If you had to turn around and sell a brand new car a week later you’d need to sell it directly to another person to have even a chance of recouping most of your money, no dealer will give you anything close.

You’re far better buying an old car that you can afford outright, and then put away money that you would spend on the car payment into a savings or tax friendly easily extractable investment account, and saving until you need a new car, and then buying what you can afford with your savings.

I wish I’d taken this advice myself the past couple of years, but I got screwed over by a dealership twice over and have a 15000 car loan now, which I’m very unhappy about.
posted by Caduceus at 8:40 AM on October 23, 2018 [17 favorites]


Yeah, but that smell.
posted by bondcliff at 8:49 AM on October 23, 2018 [3 favorites]


*mightily tries to resist urge to link Lynyrd Skynyrd*

*fails*
posted by cgc373 at 8:55 AM on October 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


When I lived in Japan I would have happily rented a middle-aged man for any situations that required me to interact with middle-aged men. They could have sucked their teeth at each other disapprovingly and saved me the stress.

Now, I would love to hire a middle-aged man to go to Belle and Sebastian concerts with me. Main duties would involve agreeing with me that the opening act sucks and fighting through the crowd to get drinks right before the show. He would have to bring his own uniform, 90s concert t-shirt and awkward jeans.
posted by betweenthebars at 9:05 AM on October 23, 2018 [16 favorites]


I think Justin McCurry, the Japan-based journo who wrote this story, was to a certain extent trying to parody the rash of "rent-a-Japanese-person" stories that reliably show up in the English-language press. The final paragraph of the article had me laughing out loud, that's for sure.

As I speak Japanese and try to a reasonable extent to behave like an adult and follow societal norms, I've not recently had a middle-aged man suck his teeth at me disapprovingly.

I like ossans because we can talk about booze, baseball and local gossip.
posted by JamesBay at 9:08 AM on October 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


I am a middle-aged man, and am already quite rent
posted by JohnFromGR at 9:10 AM on October 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


In case anyone wants to rent my parents, they just gave me an impassioned lecture about how I Need a Car Payment, how Everyone Has a Car Payment, how it's Part of Being an Adult, and how Ughhhh, I Need to Get a New Car.

True facts: my dad gave me this lecture when my car was unexpectedly totaled and I actually did need to purchase a car on short notice. I let him talk me into buying a newer-model car than I'd initially planned on--mine had been six years old when it died, so I was pretty pissed and had initially figured I'd buy one the same approximate age--but balked when he insisted that I ought to buy a new, never-returned car instead of the sensible two-year-old lease return I budgeted for myself because it was $2,000 or so cheaper.

He apparently felt strongly enough to offer to pay the difference if I went with his opinion and bought an actual brand new car, which... fair enough. And that's how my dad paid me $2,000 to let him make dumb fiscal choices on my behalf.

Listening to someone lecture me about how I should run my finances is acceptable only if they're willing to pay me for it, not the other way around. Think I could rent myself out as a clueless millennial to let middle-aged men lecture at, or are we still supposed to pony those services up for free?
posted by sciatrix at 9:16 AM on October 23, 2018 [17 favorites]


Yeah, but that smell.

I've considered getting some New Car Smell air fresheners for my bicycle. (Even better financial decision than buying a used car! The bike, I mean, not the air fresheners, those would be kind of a stupid if small purchase.)
posted by asperity at 9:16 AM on October 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


Good for you, JamesBay. In my next life, I'll try to come back as a white dude so I can have experiences like yours.
posted by betweenthebars at 9:21 AM on October 23, 2018 [4 favorites]


I had a similar idea to this, based on two things:

1) the influx of young people away from the countryside into (mostly) Tokyo, as well as some other large cities who have, honestly, never really lived away from home or had to take care of themselves.

2) the growing number of elderly people who are still active and looking for sown thing to do

With 1), you've got a large group of young people who've moved away from their support network, and who might not have any family close by. A perfect recipe for homesickness, and all sorts of other problems. So, set up a network or app, recruit elderly people with time on their hands at community centers and such, and connect older people who want to help out with younger people in need of a small moment of care from a grandmother or grandfather figure. Not feeling well? Use the app, get a nice Ba-chan (the familiar Japanese for grandma) to come over and make you some okayu, maybe take care of that mess in your apartment a bit, and all in all give you that pep you need to get back into things, and maybe make you a bento to take to work with you.

Honestly, I think it could work, given the number of elderly, and the large number of younger people without any nearby family. It'd be called 借り祖母 (rent-a-granny).
posted by Ghidorah at 9:23 AM on October 23, 2018 [9 favorites]


Now, I would love to hire a middle-aged man to go to Belle and Sebastian concerts with me.

Okay, I’m not middle aged yet, but anyone who lives in Portland, I’ll be your concert buddy to pretty much any show you want for the price of a ticket as long as I don’t end up having to call into work the next day and you give me a couple weeks to familiarize myself with the music.
posted by Caduceus at 10:18 AM on October 23, 2018 [4 favorites]


One ossan was rented to attend a girl's party as a sarcastic guest.

Wait, what?


I love both of these:

One girl rented an ossan to get an honest opinion: she wanted to become a TV talent and needed an outsider's perspective.
One woman, who loved spicy foods but didn't have friends that did, hired an ossan to eat spicy foods with her.

posted by Omnomnom at 10:20 AM on October 23, 2018 [7 favorites]


Don't worry, y'all, there is no way in hell I'm buying a new car. These are the same parents who wondered why I didn't just stop renting and buy a house or condo -- in 2015, in Austin. They've done well for themselves but are completely bonkers at giving me advice. I'm planning to pay mostly cash and get a tiny loan from my credit union that I can pay off in a year or so.
posted by fiercecupcake at 10:22 AM on October 23, 2018 [7 favorites]


Man, this is hilarious.

Owing to some recent displeasure, I find myself dating again.

I've had decent success at it. I'm enjoying it. Even the bad dates are pleasant enough. But one thing that keeps happening is... We'll go out, and we don't hit it off - but, she'll message me a day or two later and offer dinner and some cash if I could do this or that around the house.

I'm currently on a lunch break working in an art studio doing repairs and such to get it ready for their showing in a couple weeks for a woman I dated twice a couple weeks ago.

Reader, I get more referral dates this way than I do off Match/OKC/Tinder/Bumble combined. It's amazing.

I'm sorta wondering if I could make a living as a handyman/gigolo to divorcees.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:29 AM on October 23, 2018 [35 favorites]


I'm a middle-aged man who was liberally used to listen to people stressing out about shit at work—a reorg everyone hated, a catastrophic executive hire who only told two people in their group what the reporting structure even was, one manager who had the habit of explaining to peoples' teammates why he wasn't promoting them but never explained that to the people themselves.

I got really, really good at sitting and listening. I made it a goal to see how little I could say in an hour. My personal record was 27 words in 55 minutes. Some days that was all I did from getting in at 8 a.m. to catch the people in Europe through lunch and on to around 6. Some days I'd get home and not be able to talk to my family.

I'd say to my boss—located at a satellite office—"are we sure I should be doing this? Feels like we're just shoring up bad managers," and he'd say "yeah, yeah, you're the one on the floor. We need this."

So I did that for well over a year, until my boss got a new boss who told him, "mph is so good at the soft skills that they're hurting him," by which he meant, "not making him a suitable candidate for promotion," not "exhausting him." A few other executives in the company offered me roles, so I picked the one on the team that had the least drama and moved to where I felt I was wanted, not merely tolerated as some sort of mutant empath who followed shitty managers around with a mop and bucket.

I did better than ¥1,000/hour, and through "listening myself hoarse," as I described it to my wife one night, I've gained an education in the ways we devalue and take emotional labor for granted.
posted by mph at 11:51 AM on October 23, 2018 [21 favorites]


I make a pretty good chocolate cheesecake

hello i would like to inquire about your hourly rate please
posted by palomar at 11:58 AM on October 23, 2018 [7 favorites]


hello i would like to inquire about your hourly rate please

I don't come cheap but I make a raspberry sauce and everything*.

*pie made by my wife, who is a middle aged lady who can make tomatoes out of dirt, sing soprano, play piano, and strip the bark from a bunch of tree branches and make a chair out of them. I suspect her hourly rate is higher than mine.
posted by bondcliff at 12:14 PM on October 23, 2018 [7 favorites]


If I had disposable income I'd hire a vetted middle-aged man! Especially if he looked like Brewster from Animal Crossing, like that one dude in the Tofugu article. No lecturing or life advice allowed, but inoffensive jokes are A-OK.
posted by Stonkle at 12:47 PM on October 23, 2018


I, a middle aged man, am available for rent by the hour or daily in the Portland metro area. My specialties include drinking, cussing, and awkward silences. References available upon request.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 1:23 PM on October 23, 2018 [5 favorites]


we don't hit it off - but, she'll message me a day or two later and offer dinner and some cash if I could do this or that around the house.

Aw, I like this! See, as a woman who takes her cues from other women, this tells me that not one but several women went out with you and vetted you and found you a trustworthy person who they enjoy being around and feel safe with. It‘s like...a super endorsement.

(And it makes me want to meet you and have a beer or something if we ever end up in the same corner of the world!)
posted by Omnomnom at 1:33 PM on October 23, 2018 [7 favorites]


I'm sorta wondering if I could make a living as a handyman/gigolo to divorcees.

i mean probably? for like all women on earth, a Safe Reliable Guy Who Can Do Stuff is invaluable, and they already know you're safe because you didn't try to murder them when the dating situation didn't pan out.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:33 PM on October 23, 2018 [14 favorites]


So, one question I have is: How prone to mansplaining are Japanese middle aged men?

Because if I were wanting a good listener or a fun wingman for my endeavors, the last person I‘d hire would be a white middle aged man.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:37 PM on October 23, 2018 [7 favorites]


The video narrator says that "ossan" is "a slang, slightly impolite" term. How rude is it?

I think 95% of the times I've heard it it's been prefaced by 'oi'.
posted by womb of things to be and tomb of things that were at 6:21 PM on October 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


See, if I weren't mostly paranoid about one-on-ones with strangers, I would actually make use of this service. I just want someone to take me fishing.

The video narrator says that "ossan" is "a slang, slightly impolite" term. How rude is it?

I hear it used/translated a lot as "old man" in the self-deprecating and/or jokey sense (and sometimes train-platform fighty sense), so not really something you'd use to get a random older man's attention.
posted by lesser weasel at 9:43 PM on October 23, 2018 [3 favorites]


Lesser weasel, ever thought of going to the fishing spot along the Chuo line by the imperial palace? Lots of ossans there. Also, fishing. Always seemed like a pleasantly relaxing way to spend a day.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:21 AM on October 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


I would take ossan as sort of an in-group familiar version of ojisan. ojiisan - grandfather-ish old man; ojiichan - (fam) gramps;
ojisan - middle aged man; ojichan - (fam) middle aged man/uncle;
ossan - (fam) middle aged man but not quite family uncle. When you're not being rude/overly-familiar ossan is those ojisan you know from the bar and get drunk with and hang enough for ojisan to be a bit too standoff-ish and formal/polite, but ossan becomes "almost but not quite an uncle/father type of familiarity/politeness" where it's almost rude to keep just referring to them as plain ojisan.

But calling out ossan to random middle aged men instead of the normal ojisan is rude/derrogatory. I think the warning is more like don't use this word for this thing until you know it's an appropriate choice for the situation.

This pretty much follows the bulk of politeness levels in Japanese at a glance. More formal = more morphemes(syllables). Less formal and more inside-group = less morphemes.

おっさん /(n) (1) (abbr) (derog) (fam) middle-aged man/(2) (abbr) (fam) Buddhist priest/(P)/

Abbreviation, Familiar, Derogatory. It plays on the border between in-group and out-group.
posted by zengargoyle at 2:09 PM on October 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


Along the lines of using bozu to refer to little boys:
坊主 [ぼうず] /(n) (1) Buddhist priest/bonze/(2) close-cropped hair/crew cut/person with a shorn head/(3) (fam) (derog) boy/sonny/lad/(4) not catching anything (in fishing)/(P)/
posted by zengargoyle at 2:13 PM on October 24, 2018


Of course, the more formal ojisan is just that much more painful the first time you realize people are using it to address you, or to talk about you when they think you don't understand. There you are, happy, carefree, feeling vaguely not old, and one day, you do something nice for a random stranger (I don't recall, honestly, maybe I picked up and returned something a kid had dropped), and you hear the sound of your youth dying as a parent tells their child "say thank you to that nice ojisan."

It's that moment when a total stranger addresses you as "that middle aged man" that marks the horrible soul crushing moment when you understand that you are no longer young, and never will be again, no matter how much people you know try to tell you "you're not *that* old."
posted by Ghidorah at 2:26 PM on October 24, 2018 [7 favorites]


How do I know I'm middle-aged? Those guys don't actually look that old. Older than me, but more of the "my friend who is a few years older than I am" than "different generation".

I recently infuriated my mother by referring to myself as middle aged, because "you're not middle aged! Middle aged is for people like [my coworker she vaguely knows]."

Reader, that coworker and I are the same age.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 3:59 PM on October 24, 2018 [6 favorites]


marks the horrible soul crushing moment when you understand that you are no longer young, and never will be again

The American feminine cognate of this is when people start calling you "ma'am".
posted by Daily Alice at 5:50 PM on October 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


The American feminine cognate of this is when people start calling you "ma'am".

And then you realize you're aging out of middle age when people—like medical professionals—start calling you "young lady" in a jocular and patronizing way. Like, the doctor will call in the nurse and say, "Let's get this young lady her flu shot."
posted by Orlop at 9:56 AM on October 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


« Older Little Britain (and the rest of the planet)   |   Baking "Turbo" No-Knead Bread Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments