Friday, February 26, 2010


Thursday, November 8, 1990.

Today, I am 26. Aaaaaargh!

Well, it's my birthday. It's 7AM and I'm wondering when my parents will phone. It's a good feeling of security to realize that it's never an instance of wondering IF they will phone. Will they realize that Japan has no day-light saving's time? My worries are quickly squashed as they call a mere 15 minutes later after I get out of bed.

We chat only for 10 minutes. I talk to Grandpa for the first time since I left Toronto. I wonder how many more times I'll get to do that. Damn, that's morbid, but I suppose that is what happens when you start to get old enough to rue another birthday.

My folks ask about the girlfriend and my trip to Osaka and if I miss writing for the Toronto Star newspaper. Mom says there's a big package winging its way over to me and that my brother Ben will call on the weekend. I hope so.

School is boring. I do very little as Ken Sasanuma-sensei of Chikasono Junior High School explains everything in Japanese, as apparently the first-year class is unable to grasp the concept of Simon Sez. Hell, who does?

Tochigi AET leader Mary Mueller calls me at school and sings Happy Birthday to me. Wow. If only - naw! How the heck does she have the guts to not only call me at school, but figure out the phone number and talk enough Japanese to inform my school that she wants to talk to me?! Awesome!

My class of second-years and I talk about Canada for 30 minutes. It was a nice surprise. And while I wasn't prepared for it, it was about Canada - so how could it go wrong?

I visit the English club after school - they are great! I explain all of the underground slang words, gestures and sayings, like: How's it going, man (dude)? Cool. Ciao. See you. Take care. Eat my shorts (big laugh there!).
Chicken. Scaredy cat. I then mentioned to them the English disparity regarding Japanese-English slogans for "Speak Lark" and "I feel Coke" and bad English on clothing. Click HEAR (sic) for a previous blog on Japlish.

The club is totally fun. I then showed them the bad hand gestures like F.U., and... Well, that's pretty much it. Turns out they already knew that one. Still, wow! What a birthday present.

After class, one girl came up and wished me a happy birthday. She's really short ­ 4-foot-something, but really cute! Three other girls ask me for my home address to write to my brother Ben. How could I refuse my little
brother? I hope they write to him. I'd love to see his expression when he tries to read their letters. Ha-ha!

I head home at 5:10PM. Ashley is already there. Hands on her hips, she says in a Southern accent more Southern than usual: "What the heck are ya'll doing home so soon?" I guess she was going to fix the place up a little for my birthday. She's in a great mood, which raises my already good mood higher.

I had received a postcard from one of the students from Nozaki Chu Gakko, named Reiko, who wished me a happy birthday and asked a lot of friendly personal questions. It was beautiful. It's stuff like that that makes me glad I came to Japan. Other stuff like Ashley and Matthew, well, that goes without saying.

Matthew arrives at 6PM and Tim Mould (Kuroiso AET) comes at 6:10PM. Ashley gives me lots of kisses, flowers, a bottle of Kaluha and a set of dark crystal glasses and ice bucket. It's really beautiful. I'm so glad I
didn't go out on Monday or Tuesday and buy a replacement bottle of Kaluha. Matthew¹s present will come from Tokyo next week. Tim gives me a Lego F-1 race car. Neat!

Tim was given a real car by his employers ­ for travel purposes ­ lucky bugger. I'm not envious. I've seen the way people drive over here and I'm sure I don't want to be a part of it. His car is a Honda C ty  - the 'i' is missing. He drives all of us over the 3 Knights restaurant. Ashley orders a Shell au gratin appetizer and is shocked when it comes as a scallop. She thought it was going to be a pasta shell. Ha. My veal is wine-soaked and
tastes great as is my escargot. I have a tasty dark Guinness and a Labatt's Blue. Canada, eh?! It's a nice, quiet dinner. The waiters/owners attempt to talk Japanese to me ­ not the other three. Not even Matthew who in my mind can speak Japanese fairly well.

We don't understand a word we say to each other. I'm sure he laughed about it later, just as I did.

After the wonderful meal, we head back to my place and pop in a couple of Star Trek videos - the Borg episodes - and make some popcorn, drink a lot of beer and get a phone call from Kanemaru-san's little boy, Tomohiro. He says "Happy birthday, An-do-ryu". Damn. That's sweet. I nearly start to cry. I can't believe how great that is. I wonder if I ever will.

After the shows, everyone leaves and I escort Ashley home on our bicycles. It's the first time in a month I've been over. Too long, but then she's always over at my larger, warmer and place that contains Western-style furniture.

Talk, kiss and sleep. Together. Warm. Cozy. Secure. Happy. At least that's how I feel at this moment.

Somewhere looking for a birthday cake,
Andrew Joseph

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