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Wednesday, February 8, 2012


It's Saturday, November 30, 1991.

The day after I spent a ton of money (¥40,000 or $520 US/Cdn) to impress my ex-girlfriend, but current friend-with-benefits with a Thanksgiving dinner. You ever eat a turkey in Japan? Near impossible... but I did it with the help of my boss Hanazaki-san (Mr. Hanazaki). Thank-you internationalization.

Ashley - who had said a week earlier that she would come by - did not.

I am concerned. Is she hurt. Dead? Sick? No clue... Out on a date? With friends? It could happen...

Am I worried? No. I have an alibi. Mr. Hanazaki helped me get the dinner and all the fixin's and helped me get it to my apartment from another city! Yes! We had to go to another city to make the damn dinner (Yaita) because my city (Ohtawara) had no restaurant that knew anyone that 1) could get a turkey, and 2) knew how to cook a turkey. Me? Apparently I knew 3) how to pine for a turkey.

Also, Matthew came by at 8:30PM and while I may not have been my usual chum bucket of pal, I was still a decent enough friend who made him eat left-over lasagne while the turkey dinner chilled in my fridge. I said I was sorry, buddy!!!!

I'm up at 10AM because Hanazaki-san is coming over to pick-up my 'fan-heater'... this is a gas heater. I don't want the damn thing as apparently after you start up the kerosene heater, you are supposed to open up a window or sliding door so that you don't die from the fumes... but doesn't opening up the door or window let in more cold? Yes. Sometimes Japan's insistence on things is a little wonky to this gaijin (foreigner) from Canada. I, of course, rather than freeze to death, chose the risk of dying from gas poisoning. It didn't work, but at least I felt warm. My extremities feel a little numb, though.

Still... Hanazaki-san can have it. I'm getting a new AC/Heating unit soon! And my poor boss - he says he always feels cold in Ohtawara's winter. I didn't want to correct him by saying it's not winter yet - after all, it's on his say-so that the OBOE (Ohtawara Board of Education) is buying me money allotted for me via the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching Programme). Though never confirmed, apparently the rumor is that one's board of education is allotted ¥100,000 (~Cdn/US $1294) a year to spent on their AET (assistant English teacher) any way they see fit.

My office likes me and often buys me stuff I want. I have a bilingual stereo TV so I can watch TV in Japanese or English. You need a bilingual TV as some stations will transmit two signals of the same show... so I can watch The Incredible Hulk (1970s), Knight Rider (1980s) all I want. Fortunately, they have the excellent Sherlock Holmes show on for me to wrap my murderous little hands around. I also now have a Queen-sized bed after complaining about how the futon was bothering my weak back. It's much better now, and I no longer get tatami (grass mat) burns on my knees when I have sex.
Before he comes over... I clean up and try calling Ashley's place. No answer. Still no call display as of 1991. Someone should invent it. Maybe I should and become a thousandaire!

Where the hell is she?

Hanazaki-san arrives, and immediately asks me how my surprise date with Ashley went. I tell him everything. He sucks a lot of air through his teeth in shock and dismay. He really wants me to be happy and wonders if we should call the police.

Oh god, no, I think, perhaps a tad out loud. Instead, he calls her bosses... who also know about my troubles with her. She mistakenly believes her lie that she and I have only always been friends. You know what impressed me? Hanazaki-san knew her bosses' phone number by heart.

They hadn't seen her either but promised to put out calls to others to see if they knew where she was. Oh god... what have I done? What if she's just out with some other guy? She can - we're supposed to be friends-with-benefits - though she should have canceled our Friday night together if she had other plans. It's stuff like this why I wasn't overly broken up when she broke up with me claiming I was smothering her - despite her being at my place 4-6 days a week. This is not an exaggeration. It is reality, despite my attempts at humor. 

I help Hanazaki-san take the heater to his white car. He smiles weakly and says he will let me know if he finds anything out about Ashley. Dammit! Now he has me concerned. A lot. Though I secretly wish she just forgot about her agreement to be at my place for dinner. It would finally drive home the point that I can do better and deserve better than her... and then I really can move on.

I go inside and call again. Nothing.

While  I am busy eating an 8-piece bacon sandwich at around 4:30PM,  Mr. Endo calls me up and asks if I want to teach an English class for ¥5000 (~Cdn/US $64.70). Sure what the hell. It will take my mind of Ashley, right?

I call her place every 15 minutes.

In my head, should she be all right, I plan on playing it cool... saying how I was expecting her to come over... gentle like... before casually saying that I had a dinner specially made for her... I play it over and over in my head until I am sure I have the coolness factor down pat.

At  the night school English class - it's advanced adults - so I talk about Canada and myself and my family... and then ask if I am so different from themselves. Thankfully they all say we are all quite similar. Thank-you internationalization.

I go home at 8:30PM and phone Matthew and then Ashley - no one answers.

Alone, I go to the 4C bar about a five minute stagger from my apartment. I have seven beers and some French fries in a little over an hour - obviously I have no plans for picking up a woman and screwing her brains out in anger or frustration.

I leave the 4C after giving the boss a ¥2000 (Cdn/US $25.90) tip... something that is never done in Japan - but I told him I needed to feel like I was home, and I needed to give him a tip. Humoring me, he allowed it - though I'm pretty sure he under-charged me by ¥2000 anyway. Everybody wins. Thank-you internationalization.

I go home and open my fridge and stare at the uneaten turkey dinner as I sway in drunken confusion about what the heck is going on with Ashley.

Somewhere feeling numb,
Andrew Joseph
Today's blog is by Three Dog Night:


  1. oh my gawd... I just realized the elephant in the room is ME!!!

  2. Hey. OK. I forgive Ashley. She didn't show up or call. I would forgive her if it were a death in the family.... AND IT BETTER BE HERS!!!!!!!

  3. I got it! Ashley got hold of some Wild Turkey and started Thanksgiving earlier than expected. She lost track of the time and was sleeping it off. Her phone was unplugged so she wouldn't be disturbed. Wrong huh.

    Can't wait to hear what really happened.

    1. Actually, as cliche as it sounds, she was a Southern Comfort girl. I do, on occasion, have a drink and think of... something else. Y'know... 20 years from now when I write about this phase of my life, it'll make all of this sound quite tame. Pity I'll have to start a new blog for that. Or... will I just have to do four blogs at once?! That will leave me no time to spend with my wife, girlfriend or mistress. Just kidding. One can always make time. :)