Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I, Me, Mine

To say that my ego was getting swelled would be an understatement.
I'd just got lucky with a Japanese teacher, and was about to do the same with Christine once she arrived at my apartment later that night from Saitma-ken (Province of Saitama) thereby giving myself the name Ohtawara Stud.
Ego.
But first, let me tell you how that Friday started. I forgot I had an office day today and need not have gotten up so early. Since I'm up, I check out my goldfish - only to discover that my heater overheated and fried my fish. Well, that was depressing.
At the OBOE, I present Hanazaki-san with a large wooden mask I had purchased previously. It was supposed to be for Ashley's birthday a couple of weeks ago - but she broke up with me. What's up with that?
Ashley collected masks. At this point in time, I wasn't collecting anything except fish corpses. Three years later I was heavily into ukiyo-e (120-year-old plus Japanese woodblock art prints), Japanese baseball and soccer cards, coins, stamps... the list goes on. 
Anyhow, the office loves the present--I'm now the official office superstar--and  I'm told it will hang on the wall in the Superintendent's office. I sit down and begin writing reports on my time at the schools - eight weeks worth. I guess I'm a little behind.
I tell my office about my goldfish, my broken vacuum cleaner and my ex-girlfriend, but deign not to tell them about the Japanese teacher and the other woman coming over tonight. I also tell them of my cold apartment. Hanazaki-san asks if I'd like to change apartments... is he kidding, me? No way! In an informal survey of the other 53 (or so) AETs living in Tochigi-ken, I have by far the largest place! I can put up with a little cold if it means living large in luxury.
Hanazaki-san takes me next door to a political assembly meeting where I'm acknowledged by Mayor Sembo and the OBOE for what I assume is my hard work.
After work, I clean up my apartment in preparation of Christine. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but Friday night came and went. We both got what we wanted, but there was no emotional attachment, and that felt crappy - especially because this time I was sober. As opposed to last night.
I feel empty. Drained but empty.
On Saturday morning, I was up and early and often and performed my duties again and again  - after all, Christine did travel over three hours to visit me.
While I showered, Christine answered the doorbell. This time it wasn't Kanemaru-san or any of my students - nope, it was the Jehovah's Wittnesses. Swear to kami (God). Her Japanese language skills were superb (she was on her third year on the JET Programme--she was also eight years my senior, but you'd never know it from looking at her--and she managed to get rid of them without having to take a Watchtower. At least I hope they were J.W.'s - that girl had a dirty sense of humour.
There was also a package outside the door from my family. There was no letter, but plenty of important items like: tinned corned beef, cookies, pate, jam, gloves, sweaters (I had thought Japan was a sub-tropical clime... and parts of it are, but Ohtawara is just like Toronto but with less snow!), some ear muffs (which I gave to Christine  - bye, thanks for coming). It was nice, but I would have traded it all for a letter.
I ride the JR (Japanese Rail) bus to the Nishinasuno train station with Christine. Yes, it was just a one-night/morning stand, because I had places to go and people to see.
Like go on a homestay at Kanemaru-san's house! 
Before he comes over to pick me up, Matthew drops by. I brag to him about the past two nights - and he calls me a bastard... as I think I beat him to the punch with the Japanese women. Of course, he's married to a Japanese woman now - the lovely Takako - so I think he's finally okay about my luck now.
Matthew leaves, Kanemaru-san arrives and I drag my keyboards along with me.
Along the way, we two stop off at a Pachinko Parlour - I blow 3,500 yen in about 30 minutes, while Kanemaru-san does the same in only 20 minutes.
As soon as I arrive, I am jumped upon by Tomahiro, the youngest Kanemaru son who begs me to play the Chibi Maruko Chan song. he has the music, and ever since I fist watched the show a few months ago, I've been unable to get it out of my head. I'm tapping my toes right now as I write this 20 years later.
I have to transpose the music from Katakana Do-Re-Mi into Romaji's Do-Re-Mi, and then convert it to musical notes. I guessed it was a C-Major tune, and after successfully playing it again and again and again, Tomahiro was convinced I was the best thing since Japanese rice (aka the West's sliced bread).
After dinner, Mrs. Kanemaru - having heard of my back pain - gives me a great massage and applies a mustard plaster to my aching back (made worse by all of the action the past few days). (It's tough kid, but it's rife).
After guzzling a half bottle of sake (rice wine) and a half bottle of white wine, I pass out at around 11PM. By the way, dinner was a really yummy-wicked beef stew... I'm guessing they made that especially for my gaijin (outsider/foreigner) tastebuds - I don't tell them I've been designated an official Nihonjin (Japanese person) because of my new found ability to eat natto.
My bed consists of two futons piled atop each other (the norm in Winter), three blankets and two quilts. As well, my bed was pre-warmed by a heater - not mention all of the alcohol in my body.
Tomorrow, I think we're going to the city of Utsonomiya or the city of Ashikaga.
I have no idea, and at this time, I don't care.
More importantly, why didn't anyone tell me about the two futon thing? My back would hurt less and I might be warmer!

Somewhere thinking that the streak has ended at two,
Andrew Joseph
PS - Today's song is by The Beatles - EGO
PPS - I'm not sure why I'm not showing you a photo of Christine and why I am instead showing you a photo of myself at the Ohtawra Board of Education. For the record, this photo is taken during my third year, and I am making a face on purpose because I know Hanazaki-san is trying to take my picture. When you are known as a joker, you have to keep up appearances at all times and at all costs. Ugh. But what a cost. That's one ugly picture! Let's call it a karmic even up - considering today's blog content.
PPPS: By the way, the chili con carne I cooked up for Christine was too hot for her, though the 1988 Beaujolais was fine. She hated the episode of the Simpsons we watched - hated the show, actually and didn't care for the Star Trek: TNG episode that I had previously watched with Ashley that had made her cry. I noticed Christine and I didn't have a lot going on except the horizontal (sometimes vertical) mambo.

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