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Saturday, April 7, 2012


It's Thursday, December 19, 1991. I'm supposed to be at an AET (assistant English teacher) conference in Gunman-ken, that was supposed to teach us JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme participants how to be a better teacher.

I've been here in Japan since late July of 1990 and I've discovered that when the Japanese teachers of English (JTE) find a comfort zone, they beat it to death, using it day in and day out.

I don't blame them. They have a tough job teaching the youth to not only be good students, but how to be good people. It's a shared responsibility with the parents, but in truth, the Japanese teacher is an underpaid individual considered responsible for the rearing of a child.

When a kid gets in trouble outside of school... the first person called is the home-room teacher - not the parents. the teacher comes from whatever they are doing and deals with the situation, smoothing it over where possible and tries to make sure it does not occur again. Yes, parents are notified, but it is the teacher who is considered responsible (failure) for the kid's poor behavior choices.

The teacher is the one apologizing to the parents. I've seen it. I don't believe it or understand it, but that's the way it is.

So... JET can come up with all of the new teaching techniques it wants, and I can learn them... but that doesn't mean it's going to be implemented by my fellow Japanese teachers. Sorry JET... it's a harsh reality for most AETs on the programme - and I was well-liked and respected by my JTE peers!

Besides... at this particular conference, the hotel lost my reservation (amongst many, many others) and did not, to my satisfaction, rectify the problem. I left after the first day and went home to Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan.

Lucky me ran into his partner in sex Junko, who was out in Gunma-ken for some reason with her boyfriend. I am unsure if they sleep together... or if he is just there for appearances, like "Look, I have a Japanese boyfriend... I'm normal."

Junko is anything but normal, however. At least not in the sack.

While she did not talk to me in Gunma-ken, for fear of upsetting the apple cart, she acknowledged me and, later that evening back in Ohtawara, there she was knocking on my door.

How she knew I had gone home is anybody's guess. While Junko speaks flawless English, she rarely communicates her true motives to me... unless her true motives revolve around sexual debauchery. To be honest, I don't consider it debauchery. It's not just the old in and out... it's much, much more. And, while I am a relative newcomer to the whole sex-thing, only having lost my own virginity a month after arriving here in Japan to an American girl and fellow AET (I was nearly 26 years old), I have made up for lost time... as I have discovered that even though I may not be a great-looking man, I more than make up for it with personality (some say I have several), intelligence (I hope), humor (I hope), and enthusiasm along with an ability to take direction learn and not forget... I've done all right with the fair sex.

Junko and I didn't sleep last night. We were quiet. I usually am and while Junko can be loud, a well placed gag kept her in check. I told you... I am good at taking directions. She knows what she likes, and I know how to ensure she gets it. Several times a night.

We get up from my queen-sized bed sometime after 8AM... we're both exhausted and I'm sure I have dark rings under my eyes, but I glance back at her as she rubs some blood back into her wrists, she looks as fresh as a daisy just plucked (I said plucked) from under a deep, blue sky (something one doesn't see that often in Ohtawara, it seems). I can still smell the sweet scent of apple blossoms in the air from her shampoo. That, and sex. The room is thick with it.

I'm grinning hideously as I write that knowing that 20 years later I'm going to regret every moment of this...

Junko had previously been my stalker - in the exactly what a stalker-is sense. She followed me everywhere, disrupted my routine, I was so tired from the lack of sleep... yeah, it was from sex... but man can not live on sex alone, no matter how hard he wants it to be true.

I had to call in my board of education office to get her away from me. I just wanted to sleep. They came one evening and took her away... I assume to get some help, but maybe it was just to go back to school and to make her stop stalking me.

Look...  I love the attention. I really do. But sometimes, after the sex - when you know she's had enough - you just want her to leave so you can sleep.

Man... she's gorgeous. I want to be with her all the time, but she's a university student 40 minutes south in Utsunmoiya, and I don't want her to drop out, or lose focus on her studies. I want her to succeed. I have no idea if I am Mister Right or simply Mister Right Now for her... it seems like the latter for Junko and every other woman I've met... and I've begun to question whether it is them, or me.

Can one person meet that many defective people? That's my opinion of them. Everyone seems to have more baggage than a 767 airplane.

Am I a baggage handler, or am I that 180-pound suitcase?
So... after I cook up some bacon and scrambled eggs - the trick is to take them off the burner before they are fully cooked - I sit down across my small wooden dining table that cost $10 at IKEA and watch as she shovels a ketchup covered forkful of egg into her mouth.

"So... Junko... how's life treating you?"

"Last night was great, An-do-ryo-san."

(Why she reverted to breaking my name into Japanese phonetics and calling me 'mister' rather than 'teacher', I have no idea).

"Yeah, it was... but I meant how are things with you and school?"

"Good. You know school is easy for me."

(I didn't actually).

"Yeah, I know," I admitted. "It must be all of that studying."

"No... it's my photographic memory."

(Uh-oh. I don't like what's developing here. Or am I being too negative?)

"You're such a kidder, An-do-ryu!"

(God,  l love how she says my name! Whether it's in a simple conversation; panted while biting my ear lobe; or simply mouthed with her eyes as I do the unspeakable things to her that she likes.)

"So... what about us, Junko?"

"What do you mean? Didn't you have fun?"

"Of course I did? Did you?"

"..." she stares at me wondering how I could be so stupid. Should I just shut the fug up and stuff a strip of bacon in my mouth?

"Kidder... (ahem), no... I was just wondering if you and I shouldn't take things to another level?"

"Sexually? Can we do that? One of us will have to die then..." she smiled.

(I could have died happily hearing that, but I didn't really want to die. Her... I was never sure about.)

"I meant with our relationship..."

"What, like getting married? Okay."

(I didn't see that one coming.)

"Uh... okay."

(Apparently, this was the first time I had ever proposed to a woman, and it sure wasn't like anything I might have imagined it to be if I had ever imagined it before.)

"You're an idiot. A sweaty, hairy idiot. I know what you mean."

(Uh, that was her talking in the line above.)

She continued... "What do you want from me? You already have me body and soul. What's wrong with what we have?"

(I have no idea how to respond to someone who is asking questions for which the answers are so bloody obvious. I shut my mouth and try to smile.)

"I have a boyfriend. You have whatever you have with Ashley. Why do we need to change things with our relationship?"

"Ashley and I are completely over..."

"Ohhhh..... I see..."

(Oh, I really don't like where she is going with this. I know it's not going to be good.)

"You don't have a girlfriend and you can't handle that."


"Well... I'm sorry for that... I know you really cared about her..."

"I really care about you, Junko. Really."

"No... you only think you do because I am the safe alternative. I'm Miss Right Now."

(Oh man... why can't someone call my parents?)

... to be continued ...

Somewhere I'm baggage,
Andrew Joseph  
Today's blog title is by Mary J. Blige. The lyrics fit the mood.
And you know... the song is just supposed to play in the background as you read the blog. Hmmm... maybe I should have stated that before - like two years ago - and put the song at the front of the blog... oh well... now you know. Anyhow... sorry to have to continue this... but I always figured this blog was simply going to be about the 90 published columns I wrote about Japan while I was there... and then I would stop and find something new to write about. It was always supposed to be a comedy, my life... not this melodramatic stuff that seems to resonate heavily with me 20 years later. Thanks for indulging me. It's the cheapest form of therapy I can afford. 


  1. Weird conversation with a weird girl... Will save my comments about the protagonist of the story until we get to the ending...

  2. I have my original conversation written done pretty much word for word. I think I am dropping in my feelings from 2012 in, however. It just sounds like Junko is more together than I am... and it worried me then, and it worries me now.