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Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Girl I Once Knew...

There was this woman I used to know back in Japan.

She was an American girl - an assistant English teacher on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme.

She was the type of woman that damn near every heterosexual man would tun their head to check out.

She was tall, lanky, beautiful eyes and soft, curly dark brown hair that scrambled down past her shoulders. And, if that wasn't enough, she had an eye-catching chest and an ah-mazing butt. That's Letitia.

She joined the Tochigi-ken team, arriving in the summer of 1991 - the beginning of my second-year on JET. 

By then, my relationship with Ashley had already crumbled into a sea of cheese, and I was on the prowl looking for anyone to give a guy a break.

Letitia did - but only as a friend. What surprised me the most - having had a whole slew of drop-dead women in Toronto refuse to acknowledge my existence pre-1990 - is that Letitia knew who I was and always sought me out to say hello, to chat, to share a laugh. She was kind and generous.

I recall her going out of her way to give me some comic books she had picked up from back home - simply because she knew I hadn't seen an American comic book in over a year. She spent $20 for me... basically a stranger... that's someone special.  

As such, while I would have loved to have hit on her, I just couldn't. besides, her friend Amanda acted as her protector from hunky guys like me (at least that's how I choose to remember myself).

I don't even think I have a photo of her... though, if my memory is correct, she resembles Myka from the TV show Warehouse 13.

And so... while I knew Letitia was homesick and so grabbed onto every foreigner around to help her through the tough times - she and I spent hours and hours every week just talking about everything and nothing at all - but none of us knew she was harboring a dark secret.

No one is sure exactly what set her off... perhaps it was a teacher, but she suddenly decided she didn't want to eat anymore.

Anorexia Nervosa.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, it is:
an eating disorder that makes people lose more weight than is considered healthy for their age and height.
Persons with this disorder may have an intense fear of weight gain, even when they are underweight. They may diet or exercise too much, or use other methods to lose weight.

Did someone tell her she was fat? How could they? Why would she listen to one person, when all of us saw her as beautiful? Did she see herself as fat? Why didn't she ever say what was going on?

I'm pretty sure I spent hours and hours of our conversation hitting on her. Wouldn't that tell her someone she respects thinks she is pretty?

No. Anorexia Nervosa is a mental illness.

Apparently when she was on a trip to Nepal (why did I never even think about traveling there!?) Letitia would eat a single egg a day, and only then just the egg whites.

Back home in Japan, she would eat a green salad... once every five days.

Apparently before she collapsed and was eventually transported back to the U.S., Amanda said she looked like a skeleton.

I felt like crap, and I imagine Amanda - her protector - felt even worse. She never noticed because it was the winter time and she wore big bulky sweaters.

I have no idea what happened to Letitia, but I hope she got the help she needed. Yes... she was one of the prettiest women I have ever seen... both inside and out.

As for the rest of you in Japan... do your best to look out for one another. It's no guarnatee you can help, but it's better than not trying at all.

Andrew Joseph


  1. Guess I was outta touch... I did not know that happened to her and at this point...I'm trying to remember her face? Got a pic you can email me?

    1. Hey bud... I do NOT have a photo of her... she arrived in our second year... but really did look like Myka from the TV show Warehouse 13. I didn't realize that until I wrote this blog... but there is a pretty close resemblance... Google her and you'll at least get an idea...