It's Friday, September 6, 1991. I'm an assistant English teacher (AET) on the Japan Exchange & Teaching (JET) Programme living in the smallish city of Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture), Japan.
I've been here for a little over 13 months and while I've been a happy camper towards the Japanese, women troubles have irked my brain causing me some pretty decent lows. Like today.
It's an office day, meaning I go into the Ohtawara Board of Education (OBOE) offices. Generally speaking, I don't do anything when I'm here. I write letters home and write short stories that no one will ever read except a chosen few, and also put together a newsletter for the Tochigi-ken JET AET's called the Tatami Times.
It's my pride and joy here, as I have full editorial control over what goes in and what stays out. Pretty much everything I get from other AETs goes in. And, when it's not enough to my satisfaction, I add in stuff of my own. Since I hardly ever get enough stuff, I usually add about four or five "articles" a month from the depths of my mind. Don't ask me how I am able to create comedy when I'm in a bad mood, but I do.
Do you know what's really cool about my so-called writing style? I never have a clue as to what I am going to write when I sit down at a keyboard or pick up a pen and paper. I just start writing like I'm on automatic pilot. I have no rhyme or reason... it just flows out. As such, I am always pleasantly surprised when I'm finished at what I wrote. I'm not saying everything I write is golden (as evidenced by this blog these past two years), but it's not exactly completely terrible, is it?
Hanazaki-san, one of my two bosses as the OBOE who is responsible for my state of well-being in Japan, he knows I am upset about something. Probably because I was so pissed off yesterday evening that I left my kyudo (Japanese archery) practice with my other boss, Kanemaru-san, in a huff. Since they sit beside each other, I assume they talk.
I was unable to verbalize to Kanemaru-san what was wrong due to the language barrier, but Hanazaki-san posses sublime English skills... or at least his are better than Kanemaru-san's. Both are my boss, but both are my friend.
I feel like crap, and it shows. I explain to Hanazaki-san why I am in a bad mood... offering a one-word answer to his query: Ashley.
Ashley is a young woman from Augusta, Georgia. She is the Ohtawara Boys High School AET, and from the second day of arriving in Japan last July, she was my girlfriend. She is kind, pretty, generous--she helped me with a great problem: losing my virginity at the almost-age of 26--and she is moody, sleepy, and doesn't always keep me in the loop as far as her life goes. Now call me crazy (You're crazy!) (Thank-you), but I think that when you are a couple, suddenly disappearing for a couple of days and not telling anyone where you are going, might actually worry your significant other (that would be me).
That happened too often for my liking. I mean for American Thanksgiving last November, I actually found a restaurant that would cook a turkey for us with all the fixings. It took me two weeks of planning and a hell of a lot of money, plus a lot of help from my OBOE office, as the restaurant wasn't even in my home city. In case you were wondering, getting a turkey here in Japan is a very difficult endeavor. I wanted to surprise her.
It was a Thursday night... and for every day after work, she would drop by my place before heading home... just not on November 22, 1990. She never showed up. I called her place to see if she was all right, but there was no answer. I called an hour later, and an hour later and an hour later, until I decided to make the 20 minute bicycle ride to her place to see if she was still alive.
She wasn't there. In fact, she wasn't there on Friday... I asked Hanazaki-san to call her school, but no one knew where she was except that she had taken the day off. She wasn't home on Saturday, but was back on Sunday when she called me.
She had decided at the last minute to go to a fellow American's place for Thanksgiving and spent a few days. Why would I - a Canadian - ever think that Thanksgiving might be important for an American? Canada does do Thanksgiving - but a month earlier. No one except Matthew or Kristine said anything to me on Canadian Thanksgiving. I should have married Kristine, or at least slept with her when I had the chance. Stupid illness!
So... there I was with a small turkey, scalloped potatoes (try explaining that to someone in Japan!), carrots, parsnips, cranberry sauce and some wine and beer... and no girlfriend to share it with.
Matthew... you'll hate me for this, but I was so despondent by Friday evening when I found out she had booked the day off and hadn't told me anything, that I chucked the whole thing in the garbage, refusing to touch a single thing myself. The whole thing cost me about $400 plus a whole lot of dignity.
I never told her what I did for her that day. But I remembered. As such, every little grievance against myself would piss me off. I don't let anything go. Ever. (Even in 2011 as I write this, I am seething at something I haven't thought about in nearly 20 years.) (Hard to believe I am still married, huh? The way I look at is this: God forgives. I don't. If I forgave, then I would be likening myself unto God, which would be wrong. I know that's all B.S., but I it gives comfort to know I am justified in my anger).
Hanazaki-san understands my anger (recalling the Thanksgiving example), and quickly explains it to Kanemaru-san. Kanemaru-san looks stern and nods his head in understanding. Then he shocks the hell out of me.
"Ash-a-ri-sensei biggu (Ashley teacher's big)?" implying that she had put on weight recently.
I nod my head in agreement and smirk.
Point at his belly, he asks: "You-a (your) baby?"
Holy crap! You could have knocked me over with a feather!
I think I swore out loud in Japanese then! (I have a book called Making Out In Japanese, that teaches me the good stuff). After numerous denials, emphatic denials, and just plain old-fashioned denials, the OBOE office calmed me down.
I sat down and relaxed and started typing, stopped and said: "Watashi wa jissai ni wa, kentō ga tsukanai. (I have no idea, actually.)"
That sent the whole office into a buzz! I was going to tell Hanazaki-san that I always used a condom, but instead offered that I think she just ate too much home cooking when she went back to the US these past few weeks. That jive turkey got stuffed.
Which brings us back to Do! See... I wasn't going to write about all of that past crap about Ashley... but it just started flowing like a bad case of dysentery (which is what stopped me from making a pass at Kristine when she came to visit me as recounted in a very recent blog). Wow. What a crappy ending.
There's more to this day, however. Like I once told Ashley after a marathon bout of sex... I think you've had enough for one day. I'll continue tomorrow and tell you about my first date with local fox Shoko. You'll be sad if you miss it!
Somewhere realizing I didn't always use a condom,
Today's blog title is by KISS.
PS: That ending is true! At that time in 1991, I didn't realize that pre-cum (a lubricant) can contain sperm. We did always finish clad in latex, however. So... I suppose it was a possibility that she was pregnant with my baby (I can still hear Kanemaru-san in my head here in 2011!!)... just not likely. After Ashley and I had broken up for good or better (about three months ago), we decided that we made a better set of friends-with-benefits, as this way she wouldn't feel crowded... you know, obligated to tell me where she was, like I felt (as a good boyfriend) to tell her where I was and what I was doing. We could still have sex, just not any of the obligations of being a couple. I know she wasn't sleeping around with anyone else. She told me that, and no matter how much I might have slagged her here in this blog, Ashley was not a liar. That means I know she didn't cheat on me. I did sleep with other women over the past year - but only after she broke up with me. Kind of a knee-jerk reaction (heavy on the jerk, I suppose), but it was better than going blind... if you know what I mean... having to take matters into my own hand, so to speak.
PPS: I told you all yesterday that I was going to play poker over at James Dalton's house today. I had forgotten I had a date when I accepted, but called him up immediately afterward to back out. There's a guy adage: Bro's before Ho's... but Shoko was neither, so I didn't feel obligated to cancel my date with her. Besides... there is no way James would have let me come over to play poker with the boys when there was a chance I could play poker with Shoko.