Why I Pretend To Know Usain Bolt

      44 Comments on Why I Pretend To Know Usain Bolt

Five times out of ten, my conversations in Japan will go like this:

THEM:      You American?

ME:            Jamaican.

THEM:      Jamaica in Africa?

ME:            No. Jamaica in Jamaica.

                   (Blank stare)

                    The Caribbean.

                    (Blank stare)

                    Usain Bolt.

THEM:      Ooooooohhhhh!!!! Ahhhhh!!!! Bolto! Bolto!


Yup, Bob Marley may have placed Jamaica’s name on the map, but Bolto, as the Japanese call him, is making darn sure the world keeps chanting her name.

I realized there was a huge fascination with Bolto, the first day I arrived on Japanese soil. I cleared customs and walked into blinding lights, huge cameras, animated voices screaming my name and a mic being thrust into my face.


Well — it didn’t quite happen like that.

There were three of them. All men. All Japanese. One held a camera, one a mic and the other served as a translator. I was the only black girl who cleared customs so they didn’t need to see gaijin printed on my forehead to approach.

My interviewer’s name was Kentaro and his television show on channel 2 was called, ‘Why did you come to Japan?’ He apologized via his translator for bothering me and asked to interview me about —- yup, you guessed it — why I came to Japan.

His first question: Where are you from?  

I was like —–Seriously? Don’t you see the flag on my face?


That’s what I said in my head. My mouth gave a one word response:


I kid you not, that’s all it took for the conversation to change to Bolto. He totally forgot the name of his programme and spent the entire five or so minutes asking me about Jamaica, sports and Usain Bolt.

I again answered the ‘Where are you from?’ question when purchasing my bus ticket and almost instantly, there were chants of Bolto.

Then, the most amazing thing happened. Missy dropped my fare from 3200 ¥ and told me she would give me a foreigner’s discount of 2200 ¥.

Now, people who live in Japan know you get nothing free. I promise you, if you’re short a yen, just put back your groceries and get out! They don’t play with their money.

When she decreased my fare, I realized I was onto something.


Now, I don’t wait for people to ask where I am from. I introduce myself:

I’m Keisha from Jamaica.

And, when they ask:

You know Bolto?

I say:

Yes! Yes!

Some days we’re friends — some days he’s my late cousin by my aunty Sonya’s side — I was even his girlfriend one time.


At my job, everyone knows I live 5 minutes away from him.

Technically, this is NOT a lie!!

Ravinia is a mere 10 or 15 minutes away from Norbrook.

Plus, everyone knows in Jamaica everywhere is around the corner, as you turn the bend, beside the big Guava tree near to Ma’as Busha shop.


Now, people, before you judge me, please note that I am not at fault here.

Jamaica is a big, little country. Why ask me if I know Usain Bolt and force me to lie? I don’t go around asking them if they know Kei Nishikori.

And, I’ve tried to stop lying, but they keep giving me things when I say I know him. So far, knowing Bolt has gotten me half price on bus fare, free chocolates, half price on food, tomatoes, sweet peppers, invites to various temples/festivals, tomatoes, free lunch, cookies — did I say tomatoes?


I was having a good run too, but last week this bright eyed little boy handed me his mother’s phone and chanted:

‘Call him! Call him!’

Without batting an eyelid I told him.

‘In training. World Championships. Cannot be disturbed.’

Then I quickly walked away to shouts of:

‘When? When call? When call?’

I did not even look back and I sincerely hope I never see that lil imp again.

Listen guys, I know I need to stop, but, who on earth will tell him that some girl halfway around the world is claiming to know him just so she can get free stuff? I doubt anyone would want to jinx it for me — right?


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44 thoughts on “Why I Pretend To Know Usain Bolt

  1. Kennykenken

    Hehe good one. Now they can’t say you didn’t come clean. Confessions of a Jamaican born girl in Japan, claiming that she knows Usain Bolt. Love it hun!

  2. Celia

    Child you made me laugh! At least you’re honest with your dishonesty. If you put me in your position I can’t say I’d do differently.

  3. Paula Benda

    Love it Girl. I got a really good vulgar laugh from this one. I loved reading novels, I stopped sometime now but would you believe I am enjoying your blogs they make me feel as if I’m reading a novel/adventure and I can’t wait to turn the page to see what next. Loving it!!

  4. Melisa

    Lovely Keish! Had me cracking up. I would do the same thing. You need to get Bolt ‘ s number before that little boy tracks you down again. Dwl.

  5. mech

    Lol…Keishaaaaa!!!!! A mobay u come from!!!! Dwl….one word to describe u…..me gone!!!! Love read u stuff issi!!!!!

    1. Keisha Brissette

      Mech, a con artist you a call me? Caan believe it. Mi leave Mobay before them things deh start sistren 🙂

  6. Raymond

    Lol… I laughed so hard reading this. Di ppl dem inna mi staff room mus a wonder wah wrong wid mi! I can so relate to what your saying, worse when mi show dem pictures of me and Bolt and signatures of the world boss!

  7. Melissa

    Lmao, Bree it seems to me you no longer want free things or discounted prices. #anuheverytinmekfitalk. But thanks for the laugh. Njjoyed it

  8. Rïqǝƴ

    What a day when the Japanese dem discover this article!

    Yu betta prepare to repack ur life in dem 3 suitcases.

    PS – bring Mas Cass & I some Japan ‘matoes 😉

  9. Damia

    Heh heh heh Keisha I love this. Mi a come a Japan….Bolt is my 3rd cousin….you know in Jamaica everybody related one way or other. Plus me love tomatoes….

  10. Pingback: Jamaican In Japan - Eelasor | A Piece Of Mine

  11. Toysoja

    Lol I’m in my hotel room in Saitama dying of laughter. On Friday when I arrived a complete stranger dragged my heavy bag with me from the train station to my hotel…awesome right!? Then while checking in, I was asked where I’m from , I said Jamaica…h’es like “aaaaaah Usain Bolt”, i’m like aaahhh hai hai! and in broken English (as it seems to be what he could understand) I said “you like Usain Bolt” (gesturing running) and he said with a huuuge grin “hai hai! love Usain Bolt!” I just stood there beaming with pride, if only we back home would understand the rich legacy our ambassadors have showcased to the world and truly appreciate it.

  12. Clayton Hall

    Keisha my darling I was placed in a similar situation and unlike you I could not claim to be his girlfriend but just the claim of knowing him got me special treatment. I did not even have to say it I just made the universal yes sign by shaking my head up and down. I took the train from Berlin to Szczecin in Poland and yes I can’t pronounce the name either. When I got to the train station to commence my tour I tried to get a map in English without much success and was approached by two police officers who asked for my ID when I handed over my passport they simultaneously shouted “Jamaica Bolt” and from then I got my photograph taken with the police and not a mug shot. So from now I will say I am Jamaican do you know Bolt or Bob. It may even be uncle Bob if I am in the mood.


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