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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Do You Wanna Dance?

I actually had a headline in my diary of: Dancing, drinking, dining and ? So, I'm going to use it in my opening line.

It's Sunday, September 15, 1991 here in lovely Ohtawara City, Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture), Japan. It's a pity I'm not going to be here much today.

I get up at 9:29AM - exactly one minute before Ashley phones to wake me up. I would have killed her if she had. You know what I mean... you are always ticked off when someone else wakes you up.

Matthew comes over 20 minutes later, and we ride over to Nishinasuno-eki (Nishinasuno train station) and the ride the rails down to the Tochigi capital city of Utsunomiya.

We are supposed to participate in some cultural even with other assistant English teachers (AETs) on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme - international dancing.

I'm pretty sure Matthew is like me - what the hell? Dancing? But, when asked, we have always done our duty while here in Japan. Always. We might occasionally whine about it to each other, but we are always there front and center whenever cultural barriers need to be fortified or broken down.

We don't ride down with Ashley - she must have got on the train before us. Matthew and I take an Express Train to the city, as we missed an earlier one by four minutes. Arriving, we are early and go to the local Robinson's department store and play some video games at their arcade.

I can't remember the name of the game, but the object is to shoot at any alien that moves. Is there a game called Area 51 where you use a hand held gun? When we finish, we both feel like we need to kill someone or something. It was that intense. So, with that in mind, we head over to the dance-thing and proceed to kill the afternoon.

At a Prefectural board room, we practice dancing some of the usual cultural dances that everybody does back in Canada and the United States: The Hawaiian Hula; France's Can-Can; and some redneck line dance which is supposed to represent Canada. Geez... I have watched all of these dances before... but does anybody really want to watch a guy with hairy legs kick up his heels and do the Can-Can? I'm not wearing underwear today! Watch out first row! You know I'm going to be front and center on the stage! Ego? Maybe... But, I also know that is where they will put me.

Fellow AET Alan Broomhead wonders aloud why we are doing this dance stuff when we should be trying to break down the cultural stereotypes. Man... when you are right, Alan, you are right. I need a beer.

During the dances, I am indeed front and center in the show. I think I need to stop answering my phone so I don't get roped into these things. Dancing. Yeesh.

When it's all over (man, I can't dance for beans), Matthew and I, as the more mature people, lead the other AETs to a Japanese fast food place. Okay, Matthew and I aren't really leaders or all that mature... we are just the ones who have been here the longest - though Ashley, who has also been here nearly 14 months, was merely a dance spectator and didn't seem to mind that others - Matthew & I  - were in the spotlight. To be honest, I think Ashley always hates being in the spotlight... and being with me as my boyfriend in Japan was always putting her in some sort of spotlight - probably another reason not to be my boyfriend. I mean... who wants a boyfriend that breaks into a closed pottery museum or gets drunk and wakes up within a previously-locked taxidermy exhibit of a forest scene? Apparently a lot of women, according to the notches on my bedpost... just not the girl I wanted.

More on the spotlight... I wasn't famous... or infamous... I was just the guy with the big mouth and the great big grin that made the Japanese feel at ease. Matthew was like that too - just not as loud or brash as myself. I think he made the more upper-crust and middle-class people at ease, while I handled the lower to middle-class with my bold and daring manner. Matthew, of course, could be every bit the goofball I was, but just chose to show it in small doses. Does that sound right... or even fair, Matthew?

At the restaurant area of Utsunomiya... Matthew and I lead a bunch of people to a Japanese fast food place, while others opt for the next-door pizza place - as they may have been homesick from some gaijin (foreigner) junk food cooking. Personally, I can tolerate it, but Japanese pizzerias aren't the same as the fare back home in Toronto... just like a Chicago pizza is miles apart from a New York-style, etcetera.

We have some great food - and get the gang with us to try Japanese food they have not yet had. We chat with the friendly chef - in English... though Matthew was equally happy to speak to him in Japanese!

Finished, we meet up with the pizza people and lead them over to the Robinson's department store - where some western-style products could be purchased for a premium.

I have Ashley stick close to me because I want her to purchase some make-up for me to cover-up these dark rings around my eyes... but 9000 yen ($90)? Forget it! I'll try and get more sleep.

We then go for a drink or two at the Mexi Restaurant, where one or two drinks actually means seven beers. Ashley has five Tequila Sunrises!

I'm my usual demure self - wild and unruly, and hopefully funny. It's always been my opinion that when I get drunk, I just get louder and not more obnoxious.

When it becomes obvious that my unruliness outweighs any possible charm I possess, Ashley takes me by the hand says good night for me and leads me home.

On the way, I tell her I love her - as a friend... which makes her cry.

We ride our bicycles back from Nishinasuo-eki holding hands all the way to her place., where I breakdown and cry and blather on about how it feels like everybody wants me for something and how I need to go home.

I then tell her my grandfather died recently. That was an attempt to get pity. Grandpa had died back in February and I didn't tell anyone about that.

She leaves me alone in a room to be sad by myself as it's obvious she doesn't know how to act around my act - though she didn't know I was acting. Now that's acting!

So, I put on my shoes and start to leave. She comes after me running and cries as she doesn't know how to act, as I have always been the strong one when it comes to toughing it out here in Japan... and if I feel like I want to go home, how can anyone survive here?

Geez... put some more pressure on me. Fortunately, I'm too drunk to think about that.

We go back into her apartment and make love. Not sex. Love. And then sleep... it's 3AM and the floor is spinning. How the hell can I make love when I'm so drunk the room is spinning? Or is it merely my life spinning out of control?

Somewhere the planet is spinning on the wrong axis,
Andrew Joseph
Today's blog title is by The Beach Boys: DANCE! Though I suppose I could have done David Bowie's LET'S DANCE. Two for the price of one! Who says you can't get value with your blog reading?!
PS: I said my grandfather had died to get pity and sex. That's so frigging low. I am so sorry Ashley. It's funny... I can think of three times now in the first 14 months of Japan where I have been so hammered drunk where I started to cry like a little baby. Clearly the pressure of being popular in Japan and doing everything everyone has asked of me is getting to me... of course... it's usually because of woman problems when I feel at my lowest.
PPS: There's probably a reason why I have only been toasted maybe three times in the past 11 years.
PPPS: Pretty bizarre that despite the plethora of alcohol, I still remembered darn near everything to write it down in my diary. A diary I had never thought of writing before Japan, and never did afterwards. I always knew I would do something with it one day. Even if it means making myself look like an immature jackass. Hey. That's who I was sometimes.
PPPPS: Believe it or not... things start to get better, as once I get over the self-pity crap, I actually feel good about myself - and Japan had better watch-out!

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