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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rocket Man

Cripes. It's Sunday, September 1, 1991 - school starts tomorrow. I live in the small city of Ohtawara in Tochigi Prefecture in Japan. I've been here for 13 months, and I have greatly enjoyed my time here in this strange but wonderful country. The only thing that screws me up is the woman situation.

It's true that I came to this country nearly 26-years-old and still more virginal than a Catholic girl's school, but quickly got over that - though I wonder if I could become a born-again virgin, y'know, just for old time's sake. I've already hit double digits, despite having an unsteady relationship with Ashley for 10 months. Every time we were off again, I was on again with some woman who would literally throw herself at me. Crap like that never happened back in Canada. Never... I could have been on fire in my Toronto-area high school cafeteria or university or college, and not one single woman would have even noticed. Sometimes Canada is a really stupid country.

Even now in 2011, how come I never get hit on? Are women that lazy here - sit back and let the men come onto them, shoot them down and choose the one guy who looks super good but knows it? Welcome to Toronto's bar scene.

In Japan, it's a rare event when I don't have some woman try and talk to me at a bar. It's even rarer that I don't have a girlfriend or regular or even semi-regular sexual partner - but that's what is going on in my life here in Ohtawara. As such... I'm moody and agitated.

Up at 10:30AM, my friend Matthew who lives five minutes away comes over to my apartment. We then walk over to his place and get a ride from his girlfriend Takako to the Asian Rural Institute in the north end of town. They are hosting a picnic at Shinoyama Koen (Shinoyama Park). The Institute is a place for farmers from India, China, Pakistan, Indonesia - heck - Asia - to learn Japanese farming techniques so that they can go back home and apply it there.

Ohtawara, despite only having 50,000 people in it, seems to have a plethora of foreigners living in its boundaries. Along with the 12 people at the Institute (I've never seen so many brown people in one area before - I'm actually from white middle-class suburbia in Etobicoke - a city within Metropolitan Toronto and as of 2011 am still pretty much the only visible minority on the block... some 37 years after I first came to the area), there are also a lot of Japanese businesses (technical types) that have a few gaijin (foreigners) working at their plant for short contracts (from Canada and the US mainly). And there's Matthew & myself who live in Ohtawara, a few New Zealand bartenders, and others scattered around... it's no wonder this burg has an Ohtawara International Friendship Association!

And yet... despite the preponderance of foreigners, most of Ohtawara still seems stunned when they see me, as I am still often the first foreigner they have ever seen. I guess I get out a lot. (Matthew, too!).

At the picnic: It's hot out today. Bloody hot. India in August hot. Hovering at around 39 Celsius.As soon as I get there, I go for a beer and relax. It's a good thing I never (ever) get hang-overs, or I'd be a dead man every day in this country!

As I sit by myself, I overhear people from the Institute talking with Business foreigners with some Japanese locals (there are a few in Ohtawara) about me. They talk in Japanese and in English. I can't speak Japanese worth a damn, but it appears as though I understand a heck of a lot more than I should. When the heck did that happen?

These people are gossiping about me with me sitting maybe 15 feet (4.6 meters) away! They are talking about the number of girlfriends I seem to have.

I don't correct them on that, but do state that I currently have no girlfriends, and don't want one.

My friend Naoko.
Naoko, a Japanese lady friend with the Friendship Association, is ever nearby and asks me 'Why?" I tell her it's because people are always spying on me or gossiping about me, and how could I do that to another woman. Naoko quickly runs off and disappears in the crowd. And it seems like there is a crowd of maybe 100 people.

Suddenly the party-goers at the park, part like the Red Sea for Moses, and I see Naoko talking with Shoko, the very pretty, shy and quiet Japanese local who likes me and me her. Shoko is one of the students in my extra-curricular night time English conversation class I teach (and get paid handsomely) for the Friendship Association.

Feeling stupid from the alcohol and the heat, I want to get away from the gossipy gossipers, so I move off and try and hide. But, Matthew, ever-concerned for my mental health, follows me to ensure I am not by myself. Apparently I yelled my responses back to the gossipers.

Then Shoko comes over and quickly asks me out on a date!? God I love this country. I had always been reluctant to go out with her because I was afraif of the language barrier. Shoko was too, or maybe she just always figured I had a girlfriend and didn't want to be part of the revolving sextrade I had going for me in my apartment building.

Cool. Next Friday she and I will go out for drinks over at the 4C, if I am not too tired from my daily routine of working three hours a day team-teaching (with a Japanese teacher of English) at one of my seven junior high schools (chu gakko).

Despite this bit of happiness injected into my bloodstream, I still act and perhaps feel quiet, shy or aloof. I don't mingle much. I guess I'm still upset about people talking about me within earshot expecting that I wouldn't hear or understand them.

Even back in 1990 and 1991, I had always threatened Ashley (and others) by stating: "Never, ever piss off a writer." Twenty years later, I guess I'm proving my point.

After the picnic, Matthew and I head back to my place and watch some Sherlock Holmes episodes I had taped on my bilingual television and VCR (video tape recorder). We then go to some place called the Orient Club to exercise for three hours. I have no idea why Matthew even knows of this place, but he knows a way more about Ohtawara than I do, as he seems to have more of an explorers spirit, and a greater Japanese language ability than I will ever have. I guess that's why he has a Japanese girlfriend, and I only have a first date with a quiet, shy and reserved cutie pie.

The Orient Club has light cycles, treadmills, stair masters and some other stuff. It's a smallish place, but very clean and well run. We go for a swim, a sauna and then an onsen (it's like a hot tub but a bit bigger). I weigh myself when w start. It's 76.45 kilograms (168.45 pounds), and when we are done, I'm down to 75.85 kilograms (167.22 pounds)! My blood pressure seems a little high at 143/80. My body is hurting, but with the weight loss (I'm not fat! Yay!) I feel good.

Matthew and when finished, go over to the fastfood restaurant Mosburger. It's my favourite comfort food, and Matthew seems to know that. Give me convenience or give me death! Of course our supper blows all of our training, but who cares?!

My mom and dad call me at 12:30AM to let me know she arrived home safely in Toronto after mom came out to visit me here in Japan. Despite the lateness of the hours, I don't care - I couldn't sleep anyway... thinking about Karen, Kristine, Ashley, Shoko and my threesome with two hot Thai women a couple of weeks ago. That's why I'm so moody!

For five days in Thailand, I was getting sex four plus times a day for five days. Now I am not. Karen wants to be boyfriend girlfriend (and I just want sex); Ashley offers sex when she wants to as a friend-with-benefits (I also want a relationship); Kristine - I want a relationship, but she lives 500 kilometres away, and I think she's probably too good for me; and Shoko who I assume wants a relationship with me (but I'm unsure what I want with her - sex, yes, but a relationship with a nice Japanese girl would be a step up for me here in Japan - I am concerned about how we are going to communicate with each other when we have a language barrier. A physical relationship is fine, but I do want more.

Hmmm. Karen is offering me that (and my mom likes her; didn't like Ashley; probably would have loved Kristine; and been luke-warm with Shoko due to communication difficulties) but something about Karen is off-putting. Probably my need to have Ashley back as a girlfriend. I am so screwed up in the head still.

Hey Matthew - I don't think there is enough Mosburger in the world to make me feel better.

Somewhere restless,
Andrew Joseph
Today's blog title is by Elton John: BLAST-OFF!
PS: I don't sleep well again - a recurring event here in Japan... either due to me thinking too much or not enough.

1 comment:

  1. Missing Naoko-san! Here's one for ya: