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Ah, Kichijoji, what a town...
Ah, Kichijoji, what a town...
(In the style of Mickey Spillane)
It was starting to get cold again in Tokyo the night I met Sachiko, from my English company, for coffee. Sachiko’s English is top-notch. She knows “circumspect.” She knows “lineage.” But tonight we were in Kichijoji, where every dark alley leads to another dark alley, where women are as cheap as cigarettes - the solid-gold kind - and where showing your emotions can be as sticky and expensive as the overpriced cinnamon rolls in Starbucks.
This time she'd let her hair down. It flowed over her shoulders nicely. I liked that. I liked the slim shape of her as she got out of my car. “What's the strangest thing you ever did,” I asked her on an impulse, as we walked past the blue-uniformed Japanese meanies that keep you from parking anywhere in Kichijoji for more than 3 seconds.
“I put on my brother's underwear once,” she said cautiously. “I had to. Couldn't wear my own.”
“Why not?” I wondered, but I didn't probe -- this was already turning out better than I'd expected. At Starbucks, I paid for everything - BOTH coffees - and casually let drop that I was carrying literally thousands of yen in my wallet. Then we focused on the "reason" for our rendezvous, which was her translating my sax brochure into Japanese.
She was good, real good, her little fingers tip-tapping lightly over the keys of my Macintosh. Then we talked. She said she hadn't had a boyfriend for 6 months. She said she was a little worried because she didn't feel like looking for another. At some point, she asked me what, in my long life, I had learned about love. I said I'd learned that what you see in the other person's eyes is really important (actually not seeing much in hers at that moment, but then, these things take time).
Instantly, she winced, her right hand flew up to cradle her left eye and she jumped up and ran to the bathroom. She came back after a long while. Something painful had gotten in there. She apologized and said she should have just stayed there and cried in pain rather than interrupt me. She said it tongue-in-cheek, but still, it was very Japanese somehow. As far as that goes, she'd make a good Jewish mother. You know, like the one whose son calls up and says mom, I've fallen in love with a Japanese girl, we're going to get married, and mom says, that's wonderful boobie, I want you two to come over and see me. I'll be in the living room. In my coffin.
But it didn't matter: it was a sign from God. She got it, I got it, you get it. Me and Sachiko get any closer, she's gonna get hurt. Hurt bad.
That was about it. I could have been more aggressive, but I was due back home to eat leftover turkey at eight. Every once in a while, my neck jerked sideways, and when Sachiko asked, I explained I was on a short leash. I don't see a leash, she says. There's a lot you don't see, I murmured, reaching down to massage the place where my testicles used to be.
We said goodbye under the big “DOG-WIZ” store sign. These Japanese, such comedians. She tried to take a picture of me standing below it but I declined. On the way home I sucked on a can of Sting, the new chu-hai from Suntory. I wanted to call her and tell her I missed her already, but I controlled myself. Everything would fall into place soon enough.
When I got home I sent her an email. I said if she wanted, she could take me out, wine me and dine me, my tastes weren't that expensive. Mos Burger would do fine. And gas. We were going to need lots of gas for the car. And, oh yeah -- a new job for me. A guy needs a little pocket money, you know? I don't have to tell you, Rocky. You been around.