Friday, December 24, 2010

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

It's was around this time in 1990 when I felt pretty darn low.

This was my first Christmas away from my Canadian family and friends, as I was now living in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan

Because of major blow-ups with Ashley (my on-again, off-again girlfriend for the first two years of Japan rife), whatever plans we had made to go traveling together to Thailand were in pieces.

To further complicate matters, after she broke... I mean, after I broke up with her, she made arrangements to go to Thailand with three other female AETs. I had tried to do the same, but those girls didn't want me around. Just kidding. Hmmm... probably not kidding. 

Instead of Thailand, I tried to make arrangements to fly out of Japan with Tim Mould - a late arrival in Japan and thus also late in planning a vacation - I wanted to go anywhere. I was desperate. Anywhere but here!

I tried and I tried to get a flight out but they wouldn't let me change my travel locale of Thailand... to be honest, the last thing I wanted to do was to be in Thailand the same time as Ashley - even if we were back together this week. uhhh... hang on... nope... we just broke up again.

Just before Ashley was to leave, we got back together again. Feeling stupid with a lack of blood flow to my brain, I gave her my Donald Duck watch to wear. It was a treasured keepsake that I had bought several months previous in Canada - and is treasured because I love Donald Duck - did you know he doesn't wear any pants? Also... he can't fly... but Daffy Duck can. Just like in real life - white ducks can't fly... eerie, huh?

I used to wear two watches at a time - one on the left arm (the watch I still have on in 2010), and one on the right (Donald). It was a style of fashion in those days - at least it was one I was trying to start. For the records, I also used to roll up one leg of a pair of shorts and keep the other one long. Sadly, the rest of the world wasn't interested in following my lead, but it did make me stand out.

"Hey! There's that idiot Andrew wearing the lopsided shorts and two watches!"
"Yes, but at least he has the legs to pull it off!"

It's true. I still have the legs to pull off wearing two watches.

Anyhow... back to the story. I was sad. Sad for myself that Ashley was going away without me and I wasn't going to get laid for awhile. Sad because I wasn't going away on vacation. Sad because I was away from my Canadian contingent. And sad because I had to stay in boring old Japan.

It's sounds stupid, but that was what I was thinking. I'm thousands of kilometres from Toronto and living in Japan (It's actually 8500 kilometres and about 6500 miles). I'm a stranger in a strange land having the time of my life. I even got laid by three different women in the five months I've been here... those are pretty damn fine numbers considering the previous 25 years had nada!

Realizing how lucky I was, I got off my ass and marched outside and walked the 100 meters or so into the downtown core of Ohtawara-shi. It was starting to snow. And though it was cool, it wasn't Arctic cold. I was home and I might as well act like it. I caught snowflakes on my tongue and got rosy red cheeks. It's Christmas time and home is where the heart is.

I went out and bought a small live coniferous tree from the local Iseya department/grocery store. I brought it back home and decorated it with all sorts of knick-knacks that I had already picked up. That's what the photo is of up above! And by gum, I had a great Christmas. 

Of course the alcohol helped a bit too. Kalula and Rum & Coke and egg nog with... to be honest I ran out of booze when it was egg nog time, but it was still pretty tasty even though it upset the heck outta my weak stomach. I think it's the nut meg. Ugh.

And Matthew. That bugger didn't go anywhere, either. In fact - despite him being my best friend in Japan, he and I never really traveled together outside the city. At least not very far. I think he was busy trying to pick up women. Since he eventually married local babe Takako, it seems like he stuck to his plan until she stopped trying to run away and gave in to his charm.

I spent Christmas in Japan - and after talking to a lot of the other AETs in other towns, it seems like most of them had traveled outside the country and only returned after the new year. Matthew and I - we were in Japan, and we got the whole Japanese experience over most other gaijin who wanted to see other countries. We had a damn fine time on our own and together.

There's nothing wrong with traveling, but when in Japan, you should at least take part in the social customs and holidays. Thanks to a shockingly bad break-up with Ashley for a couple of weeks, I was able to do just that.

Somewhere enjoying Christmas in Japan,
Andrew Joseph
Today's title is performed by Bruce Springsteen: CLARENCE
Thanks Matthew! And Merry Christmas to all! Happy Hannukah! Have a Kwazy Kwanza! And... if I've left anyone out - have a Happy Holiday season!
PS: I'll be back tomorrow!
PPS: And why did he mention that stupid watch?
PPPS: And why does he keep mixing up its grammar?
PPPPS: And where did Matthew and Andrew hang out when they weren't drinking and trying to pick up women?
PPPPPS: I've dug up some whimsical writing of Matthew's that I am going to reprint tomorrow - it's witty and funny and emphasizes the Japanese view on Christmas. I know! I can't wait.

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