Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Life Is A Carnival

Saturday, November 3, 1990

I’m up at 7:30AM and I already feel exhausted thanks to the drinks and the panic. I dress in jeans and a t-shirt and head over to the festival located at the Nihon Tobacco Company Grounds, find the stage set up for my big radio interview that will apparently be done live on-stage for the town to see. I see the happy Mayor Sembo who comes over to shake my hand. The radio crew see him talking to me and figure I must be the guy they are going to interview. They are correct.
My first question by the CRT Tochigi radio network is in Japanese. I answer them with a flat “No.” They all look horrified. So, I smile like I’m joking and say I don’t speak Japanese.
The lady disc jockey asking the questions smiles and asks me her question in English – thank goodness it’s the real basic stuff, which she can easily translate back into Japanese for her audience.
"What do you think of Ohtawara?"
"How are the students?"
"Do you like Japanese girls?" She said this and squeezed my left leg just above my knee.
There were a few other questions, but after she squeezed my leg, I don't remember specifics... I'm sure I supplied candid rote answers. When it was over (after five minutes), she squeezed my leg again. She’s cute, but seems kind of old – maybe 40. (I see the irony of writing this out in the blog at the age of 45).
I wander around the festival and meet three girls from New Zealand – 14 and under, named Fiona, Rebecca and Melissa (see photo) who are in Japan because their dad is working for a Japanese company on a six month exchange. The youngest, Fiona, catches a goldfish for me in a game of chance, as I mentioned I have an aquarium.
These young kids like me because I don’t treat them like kids… I treat them like people. Everybody’s happy. And then I run into Ashley. She seems distant and bitchy and is looking for the Ohtawara Friendship Association. I accidentally steer her the wrong way before realizing it’s only about 15 feet from where I’m chatting with the Kiwi’s.
After she tracks them down, Ashley comes back to inform me that they want me to come and play the clarinet. I tell them I forgot mine at home in the rush this morning. She tells me they have one waiting for me. Zoinks!
While trying to tell them my ribs were still hurting from the car-bicycle accidents and it’s difficult to blow, they pretend they don’t understand English. Which they don't, so I'm screwed.
I play something for them – St. Louis Blues – a Dixieland piece (the clickable version is kindda how I played it, but with the clarinet doing the lead) to raucous applause, do some bowing, grab a Coke and leave to go purchase a table with short legs made of some very dark wood. The table sits maybe four inches high. I don’t know what to do with it, but it looks cool.
When I return, I see Ashley. Apparently she’s mad at me and gives me the whole Spanish Inquisition routine as she tortures me about my lack of religious conviction... and nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. I’m not sure where that came from. But I can’t defend myself to someone who knows they are right and that you are wrong.
Why am I even in this relationship? Oh yeah, the convenience of sex.
She heads over to my place later that evening, we have a spaghetti dinner and watch Quantum Leap, Letterman and Saturday Night Live.
She’s probably asking herself why she’s in the relationship. Oh yeah, food and television.
We go to bed and she hits me with the religion stuff again. I walk out into my living room and have half a bottle of Kaluha - the real hard stuff. Ten minutes later she comes out, apologizes, and we go back to my bedroom.
Angry make-up sex is good, or at least I assume it’s good for her. Half a bottle of Kaluha makes things impossible me.
I don't even know what the festival was for.
Somewhere looking for a happy ending,
Andrew Joseph

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