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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Over-Medicated Blogger Offers Sage Advice - I Think

Right now, as I write this, I have over-medicated myself.  I had a dry, hacking cough and a slightly runny nose which I put down to allergies... which I have but have not had to take a pill in a year.

So I took two this evening after getting home - the recommended dosage. And then my wife played nice and went out and bought some medicine for me specifically for a dry cough. How nice.

So I took a swig.

Man... I feel like I'm floating... and I'm too messed up write a story for work, which as luck would have it is about hemp. The healthy kind of hemp - not the fun kind.

So... feeling too out of it to write for work, I am writing this blog. The irony escapes me. No... I've captured it.

It reminds me of why I used to drink a fair bit on the weekends in Ohtawara-shi, Toichigi-ken, Japan when I lived there between 1990-1993.

It was to forget... and now those memories are pouring out like bourbon from a bottle of Jack Daniels.

I drank purely for social reasons. That and because I was in a bar. I never, ever drank at home, except for when Matthew would bring over a couple of beers and we'd watch a video from home... or when Ashley would bring over a bottle of Southern Comfort and we'd have a couple... but never enough to get wasted.

And certainly I never drank at home by myself. That's something I have always though was not a good habit to take up.

Even now... for the past 12 years I have not been drunk... even after sucking back a bottle of o-sake.


But back to Japan. The social aspect of getting out to MY local bar - the 4C was what I enjoyed the most. Even if I wasn't with Matthew or Ashley at the 4C, there would always be someone there I could talk to.

I did suffer from being homesick... or just plain old lonely sick. Despite being a shy and introverted loner, I played the out-going extroverted sexhound in Japan.

And so I would go and have a drink at the 4C, and someone would come up and start a conversation with me.

I have joked about the Japanese wanting free English conversation lessons and truisms about being picked up by Japanese women at this place, but really... I just enjoyed getting out and being a part of the community.

With every English conversation or botched Japanese conversation I engaged in, I was getting better not only at speaking to people and becoming less shy, but I was getting better at fitting in in Japan.

It's why I have so many fond memories of the place. I didn't always drink to excess - though I tended to when with a gaggle of gaijin (foreigners), and when I was my OBOE (Ohtawara Board of Education) for an office party (by out-drinking everyone else and not being a dick about it, you gain a level of camaraderie).

But by myself or with that one Japanese woman or that businessman wanting to practice his English, I got to practice my Japanese... and I did it while nursing a drink or two.

Of course, it also helped that I could more than hold my alcohol and instead of getting obnoxiously drunk, I became louder. I think people get more hard of hearing the more alcohol they consume.

It's funny to think about it all now, nearly 20 years later while I am stoned on over-the-counter cold or allergy medicine... but as I was being used by the Japanese, so too was I using them.

'Using' is perhaps a harsh term... what I really mean is we were performing internationalization with each other.

We had a good time.

I miss that. I can't EVER recall being at a bar in Toronto and talking with other men I wasn't with. It's just not done. You enter a bar with people you know and that's who you talk with.

It's kind of boring.

I miss the spontaneity of learning about other people.

I miss going out and having a drink and meeting people with normal jobs who have an interesting life. And that seemed to be everyone I met... perhaps because they were able to describe their job and life in a way that was fascinating to me.

It's how I met a handler for a Miss Universe Japan (and slept with her) (I guess I should write that story for you all soon enough), it's how I met a volunteer fireman, a hunter, a pervert, a bank manager, a clerk at a convenience store and more.

Maybe it was the alcohol... but then again... how is it that I was always able to recall exact conversations I had with them to write them down in my diaries? It's because people are interesting if you just talk to them.

Here's the message to all you foreigners in Japan. Get the hell out of your safety zone - your apartment - and go and hang out at a bar by yourself once a week. Don't just stare down at your drink. Look up and look around and wear a big smile. Pretty soon you won't be alone. You might be giving what you mistakenly call a free English lesson, but don't forget to ask them questions too.

It's not just about teaching English or serving drinks... it's about meeting new people and experiencing new things.

Just don't write about them when you are drunk or stoned.

Hey... did you hear the one about the gaijin who walked in to a bar? He said "Itai!" (Ow!/Pain!)That's a jodan (joke), son.

Andrew Joseph 

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