Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sweet Cheater

Here's a story I owe you.

On Friday October 26, 1990 - to backtrack a few weeks, I decided I would visit Osaka - by myself.

Friends of my family said I should contact a Japanese girl they knew, who had visited them here in Toronto a couple of years previous.

Toshiko was her name. I had called her up and chatted with her and told her I would like to come to Osaka for a visit, and if she had time perhaps we could meet. She said she would love to see me again.

Now her English wasn't the best over the phone, but I was pretty sure I had not met any Japanese girls named Toshiko back home. It's not the kind of thing I was ever likely to misremeber. By the way, baseballer Roger Clemens got a lot of flack for using the word "misremember" - but it's a real word, so either he's a wordsmith, or he just got lucky.

I don't know how to pack for my three day trip, and my baggage is already heavy without me having bought anything. And this weather - rain, sunshine, warm, cold. I pack for all occasions.

I ride my bike to Nishinasuno-eki (train station) and ride the regular train north two stops to Nasu-Shiobara-eki. From there, I go upstairs and take a Skinkansen (bullet train). When it arrives, my first thought is an audible "wow". It looks like an airplane minus the wings.

I get on the smoking car - hack - is that my lungs I just spit out? I'm in an aisle seat so I don't see much of the country side. It's four seats to a row, divided by an aisle. It's a very smooth ride, but it doesn't seem all that fast to me. If that's 100 kilometers per hour then I have no concept of speed. We do have to make stops at Tochigi's capital city of Utsonomiya, it's southern most city - Oyama, and Omiya before the final stop of Ueno-eki in Tokyo. It takes one hour and five minutes - which is good for a 200 kilometer trip.

I ask a man there how much a ticket to the actual Tokyo train station is - and he tells me in perfect English  and take the three-stop regular subway train to Tokyo.

This place is like Grand Central Station in New York. Massive. I follow the excellent signage and board a Shinkansen headed west to Hiroshima. Oh... I bought a couple of sandwiches and Cokes at a store before getting on.

I'm nervous. Travel does that to me - especially when I'm by myself.

We stop at Nagoya, Kyoto (10 minutes from Kristine!) and finally Osaka after three hours. It's exactly on time. Always is, I hear. It's now 6:04 PM and I look around for Toshiko, but she's nowhere to be found.  I have a photo of her so that something. She said to meet her at an the exit. Which one? There's four of them! Twenty minutes later I hear over the PA system: "An-do-ryu Jo-se-fu... Tochigi-ken..." I guess I'm being paged. I head to an information booth and sure enough, there she is. She doesn't look like her photo, but is still very attractive. She seems quite pleased to see me, and kisses me full on the lips. Oh-kay.

She's about 5'-4", slight build, black hair to her shoulders - is 27 years old, and speaks enough English for it to be a struggle for us to understand each other - but I understand that she's really good-looking. She tries to take my bag - but can't quite lift it.

With the luggage in tow, we go to dinner - Japanese style on a beer garden roof and have a beer. She pays. Oh-kay. Next, we go to the top floor of a hotel and drink at the restaurant overlooking Osaka and its famous castle, Osaka-jo.

I have a White Russian and then a Strawberry Daquari - so does she! She's now bombed and is touching my body - until a male friend of hers comes and joins us. We meet some more friends of hers and have afew drinks. I'm tipsy - but these guys are lightweights and are completely hammered.

Anyhow, after they leave, she says she will take me to a hotel she arranged for me. On the way down from the restaurant she kisses me hard on the lips - which I return. She grabs my hand and swings our arms while singing: "Happy Mistake!" in English.

Y'see, the family friends mistakenly told her that the person coming to visit was named Ben, and was 19. That would be my brother. She was very happy I wasn't 19.

Anyhow, after escorting me to a Japanese-style hotel - that means a futon on tatami (grass) mats - she comes in and well, let's cut to the chase and say I added a second notch.

Japan is awesome. A guy could get used to this.

Anyhow, she says she has to go home because her boyfriend will be calling soon - apparently that was the first guy to have joined us for a drink. Oh-kay.

I have a shower and get to bed, but stay awake for awhile. Although Ashley and I had a fight a day earlier, we hadn't really broken up (in my mind), though it sure felt that way, and I was feeling quite guilty over what had happened. No, really. A man feeling guilt over sleeping with a woman.

Somewhere wondering what I'm going to do tomorrow,  
Andrew Joseph 
PS - bottom photo: This photos shows off  Japan's infatuation with white cars quite nicely.

Today's song by Ratt. I know... I have strange taste in Rock and Roll. I was going to use Lucky Man by Emerson, Lake & Palmer... but the title I chose could refer to more than one cheater.

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