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Monday, May 21, 2018

Mug Of Beer

First off, let me apologize for the briefness of this blog. For the first time since I was in diapers, I took a nap in the afternoon on Sunday.

I don't know why... perhaps I was tired from coaching baseball in the hot sun, tired of watching my kid play Fortnite (a pox on the house of that video game creator), or perhaps it was the heavy lunch... or cripes, maybe I'm getting older and heading for that time when I need to wear diapers again as an old man.

I'm not there yet... but damn... a nap.

Above, what we have here is a matchbox label from Japan advertising a local beer establishment in Tokyo (I assume).

What little I could read of the Japanese language has evaporated with being nearly 25 years removed from the country I write about here.

I don't even drink beer anymore.

Don't get me wrong, I could if I wanted to, I just don't have the want.

Besides, being cash poor doesn't leave me with the options of getting drunk as a skunk like I used to while I was in Japan.

Back then, I only really drank in social situations that demanded I get as pissed as the Japanese I was with. It was a social thing... for us all to let down our hair and get to know each other away from the formal setting of the work environment.

It was and is a very important part of the Japanese social structure.

I suppose offices outside of Japan do the same thing, but at least here in Toronto where we live far away from the office, and far away from our co-workers, and like to drive to work, more often than not... getting hammered at an office party and then having to leave the car at work and take some alternative way home is something many people dislike... and so, we often refrain from getting hammered.

There's also the fact that unlike Japan where everyone gets stinking drunk at an office enkai (party), where things are said, and if embarrassing are never discussed again... outside of Japan that sort of behavior will get you fired.

I have been a pretty sociable guy. At work I will talk to anyone about anything they like... I listen, keep secrets, and provide thoughts or advice where I think it might be appreciated.

But at work socials... not so much.

I actually work best in social gatherings up to maybe five people at most... anymore, I shut down and just listen... and usually become bored and quietly leave after what is the shortest possible time to still be considered socially polite. Or I don't go at all.

Even I think my actions are weird.

I actually have very few friends... but that's okay. If I call you my friend, I mean it. But work... work friends have always been particularly difficult for me.

I'm a writer. That means I spend most of my time locked in my own mind trying to make sense of the thoughts I have heard and written down.

Its seems in complete contrast to the outward persona I show... that super-friendly, funny guy... or the baseball, hockey, soccer coach, or the piano, clarinet teacher, or the guy teaching English to junior high school teachers in Japan, or even the writer who doesn't mind spilling the beans on his most private thoughts while he was in Japan, or private thoughts about things he learns about Japan now.

I call it being on, when I'm around people. But lest a machine burn out, it needs to switch off every once in a while.

In Japan I would drink to excess to show that anything the Japanese could do, I could do several beers better.

In my mind, it was not only a means of showing the Japanese that they did not have a lock on being superior (this feeling IS actually a part of the Japanese identity that exists even  today - and I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing)... but it was also a means for me to cope being in Japan.

When us gaijin (foreigners/outsiders) go to Japan to work and live, we leave being the creature comforts of whatever country we are from... the most important being family, friends, and yes, language.

I had never been away from home until I went to Japan. I had done five years of university and two years of college, and managed to do so while living in my parent's basement, allowing me to continue playing D&D, watch Star Trek reruns - and to basically have never kissed a girl. Click HERE to see what I mean.

Drinking Japanese-style helped. But I was smart enough (in my opinion only) to only have drunk and been drunk when in social situations... IE, never alone.

I have long felt that alcohol, while tasty when in social situations, never tasted very good when alone.

Unfortunately... or fortunately... when it came to imbibing alcohol, I never met the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme participant who could out-drink me. Okay.. maybe there were two guys... one for sure... but we never competed... we just drank when with each other.

Anyhow... despite all those great stories I have told about the drinking exploits of myself in Japan... while I enjoyed them at the time, it was never who I was... just who I needed to be at that time.

Apparently, my opening statement was written before I finished writing this blog. I never know what the hell I am going to write before I do.

Hopefully, something more interesting tomorrow.

Cheers/Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph

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