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Ah, Roppongi, what a town.
Ah, Roppongi, what a town.
Last night, seated directly in front of my saxophone stage, a customer was harassing his hostess, just some "playful" shoves and a few jabs in the tummy, a forefinger poised in front of her nose. I have no idea why. Totally adolescent bullshit from a well-to-do man in his thirties. Uncommon, but it happens. What is agonizing is watching the woman's response. She's maybe 22 years old, pretty as a picture, and forced internally (general culture) and externally (club culture) to smile and put up with it. I'm getting more and more angry, missing notes, trying to catch the eye of the guy or his friend, a cooler type who maybe wouldn't do this himself, but who in this culture of go-along, get-along just laughs in sick ignorance of the emotional reality of the girl.
I'm staring at my music, trying not to watch. It's not precisely sexual harassment, but it's stupid and mean, and the women's impotence is so sad. When I look up again, she is in tears. She manages to get up and walk away. The men hide their embarrassment and begin joking, surely at her expense. ("Not goodo sporto, ne? Ando she showingu emotionu. We canto do zato, can we!)
Now I'm TRYING to play wrong notes, play loud, trying just to catch his eye, and finally the friend looks up. I keep playing, staring at him, shaking my head slowly. When I've got both their attention, I take the horn out of my mouth, look down (let's not be confrontational with the customers!) and keep shaking my head in obvious disgust. It sinks in. They were seen. What he did is NOT all right. Duh.
She comes back five minutes later, embarrassed. He jokes some more and then executes a stylized, totally meaningless bow of apology, and soon everyone's laughing gaily again. He manages to keep his hands pretty much to himself. Later she passes me and I touch her arm in sympathy. All I know how to say is, “Gambate, ne?” which is exactly what she does NOT need to do. But she sees what’s in my eyes, so it was worth saying.
Out on the street, the young salaryman who was slumped on the sidewalk an hour earlier has thrown up big-time 12 inches from his own ass and gone back to sleep. Across the way, a bunch of my African friends are shouting at five cops. Apparently an African and his wife were fighting and the police want to arrest the guy. “It’s his wife!” they shout. “What do you want to do, divorce them here?” The cops give up and trundle back to the koban. Shouted down by Africans. hazukashi, ne? In the U.S., the Africans woulda wound up at Gitmo. Then rendition to Nigeria, forced to admit smuggling WMDs into Yankee Stadium.
Japan's not so bad.