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Friday, June 21, 2013

Playing It Coal

Crap... it's 11:05PM and I have 55 minutes to come up with a topic... so... let's talk about Noboko, my ex-fiance in Japan... that's right... I would have married her.

Noboko, whose slight frame was unable to live up to her moniker that means 'ever expanding child', was the first Japanese woman I had actually asked out on a date... In fact... every single woman I had dated in Japan... and those that I slept with... each had actually asked me out.

Noboko liked to call me her diamond-in-the-rough... and maybe something was lost in the translation, but I always kind of took that as in insult, meaning I was a chunk of coal with the potential to become something very valuable... but that at moment in time... I wasn't.

It was 1993 and she had come over to my apartment for the first time in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan.

Noboko was a Japanese teacher of English, working at Nozaki Chu Gakko (Nozaki Junior High School) - having just started in April when the new school year began.

I had walked into the teacher's office and immediately noticed her sitting at her desk, face down in a bunch of papers concentrating on doing her job.

The head English teacher introduced us, and when Noboko lifted her face up to see what the hubbub was about, angels sang to me in their heavenly choir, as I was smitten by this kitten... lost in her soft dark brown eyes and luscious lashes...

I was in love.

At first sight. Something that had never happened to me before or since. Maybe it was lust. I have certainly fallen in love before that and since then... more recently after a phone call... just hearing her voice and knowing...

But Noboko... she was also a 'wow'.

I defied Japanese etiquette or she did... and shook her hand in casual greeting and told her I was looking forward to teaching with her, but... I was already lost in la-la land... I somehow found my designated desk and chair, pulled out a pen and some paper and wrote her a love haiku.

Her beautiful eyes
Seem to hypnotize my soul
Capturing my heart.

When I handed it to her, she was less than impressed, even though I still think it is one of the best things I have ever written... and I have written a lot over the past 23 years.

I guess the girl just doesn't appreciate my first ever haiku. I still don't know why I wrote her haiku... but I know I meant everything in it.

But... thanks to the efforts of her students (my students, too), who knew immediately that a good-looking gaijin (foreigner) like me was already head-over-heels with their new English teacher, they spent a lot of time and effort speaking to her of my virtues.

How they knew what those virtues were, I'll never know, but I guess I must have been all right in the eyes of those students for them to make such an effort... such a grand gesture on my behalf... and without me ever asking them to do something like that.

So... perhaps curious as to why these teenagers would go through all of this trouble to speak so warmly about little ol me, Noboko's curiosity got the better of her, and she agreed to come to my apartment for dinner.

I'm not much of a cook, but after nearly three years in Ohtawara, I had learned how to make one lip-smacking meat and bean chili. So I did... spending hours the night before making it... chopping up all the veggies, spicing up the minced beef with cinnamon (hmmm, I never cared much for cinnamon before that, but it sure did make for a tasty meat... and it's probably why cinnamon makes my lips go all funny nowadays).

Once I had it cooked, I let it cool down and put in the fridge over night...

So... on the evening when Noboko was to finally come over, I re-heated it... and had it simmering and bubbling gently on my stove top.

There... a gentle rapping at the metal front door... then a door bell ringing... dinnnnnnnng-donggggg!

Be cool Andrew, I thought to myself as I floated down the hallway to the front of my apartment, remembering to duck under the noren curtain I had hanging there to separate the hall from the LDK (living room-dining room-kitchen).

Settling myself, checking my breath one last time - huuuuuuuah - all cool - I took a deep breath and opened the door.

Whether it was the soap I could smell on her clean body, the apple blossoms in her hair, or just the fact that she was finally in front of me without a gaggle of students about her... or maybe it was because I had just taken a deep breath... but my head grew light and I thought I was going to pass out.

I gripped the side of the door, bowed slightly and said "hello" and bade her to enter my humble abode... my home, sweet home.

My god she was beautiful. And I told her she looked lovely. And meant it. I never say anything I don't mean, unless I am joking... but when it comes to women... I never joke unless we both need it.

And Noboko was no joking matter. She wasn't smiling...

By this time in my three year existence, I had dated a plethora of gorgeous women, but there was something about Noboko that stood out... she was 5 foot one inch tall and maybe 100 pounds... she wasn't big in the chest department, but man she had a nice set of legs... and I could see she had a nice bum... or at the very least had clothes (a tight skirt and blouse) which made her look that way.

Rather than the standard straight black Japanese hair, Noboko wore it wavy and perhaps just an inch below her shoulders... apple blossoms.

Is it hot in here, or just her? Yes...

She looked to the tiled ground after I closed the door and locked it (what is that gaijin doing? she might have thought) and asked where the indoor slippers were as she removed her heels... standing there confused in her pantyhose feet...

By this time, I was very Japanese in how I acted in public... at school... the Ohtawara Board of Education offices... and all about town and in the bars... but in my apartment... despite the wide array of Japanese-style decorations about the place - including some ikebana (Japanese flower arranging), I was more gaijin... more the typical Canadian... and had dispensed with the effing indoor plastic slippers... though as a courtesy and perhaps more of a nod to being a man with poor aim on occasion, I did leave the green, a-way-too-small bathroom slippers within the toilet room.

I told her, that while we are indeed in Japan, my apartment was a slice of Canada, so there were no slippers.

Don't worry... I have lots of carpeting...

She was nervous as all get out, let me tell you... as I welcomed her into my apartment saying she could walk in front of me into my LDK.

She was so short she almost didn't have to duck to get past my noren... but when she saw that my apartment was clean (spotless, thanks to an anal retentive desire to not be messy thanks to a high influx of visitors to casa Grand Central Station), noticed all of the Japanese touristy decorations, and the fact that I had something cooking on the stove that smelled good, I could see a lot of the tension move quickly from her narrow shoulders and out in an exhaled breath as she marveled at how large my apartment was.

My apartment - with its two balconies and three bedrooms - was one of the larger residences afforded an AET (assistant English teacher) on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme who was single... I acknowledge that some AETs with a spouse and child had a larger place... anyhow... my apartment kind of blew her away.

I gave her the five-yen tour... opening up one bedroom door (where my closest and dresser of clothes are), sliding open the door to my bedroom where a queen-sized bed was perched atop clean tatami mats, and then opening the third bedroom back near the from door where I had a writing desk (never used) and a portable clothes tree for drying (not to mention the sliding door to the smaller second balcony that faced West).

I then quickly showed her the large bathroom area with the separate room (a small closet) really for the Western-style toilet... I noticed she glanced down and audibly smiled when she saw the bathroom slippers... and then the large shower stall, where two people could shower in sexual comfort (if I remember correctly... :)

I then marched Noboko back to the LDK, and since it was still light outside, opened up the sliding doors and walked out to the North balcony where she followed me outside in her pantyhose clad feet and stood beside me to see the spectacular view (from the third floor) of the Nasu mountain range...

"You have a very beautiful home," she smiled at me... "And it's very clean."

"Does that surprise you?" I asked jokingly.

"Yes," she answered quite seriously.

Hmmm... she's on her guard - and I don't blame her - she knows I like her... but I can tell she still isn't sold on me... regardless of the opinions of a bunch of teenaged children she barely knows.   

She shivers slightly, as it is still April and the wind does like to blow down from the mountains directly onto my balcony.

You know... after that initial handshake with her a week or so ago... I haven't touched her yet... so perhaps it was instinctual, but I cavalierly placed my arm around her shoulder and marched her back into my apartment and locked the sliding door.

I asked her to please sit down - and rather than take the large single comfy chair, she sat down on the right side of my green fabric three-seat couch... and sat back comfortably as she crossed those sexy taupe colored pantyhose legs.

"Would you like a drink - I have Coke, water, milk, orange juice, Kirin Lager beer, o-sake and some red wine?" (This was a test... or so it appears to me 20 years later.)

"Oh..." she said as she stood up quickly and began to come to the kitchen. "I can get that for you..."

"Nobokoooooooh," I said... "You are my guest... my date (her eyebrows arched)... allow me to serve you, please."

Her eyebrows continued to arch until I thought they would break, but she smiled and sat down again... facing away from me, I watched as she tucked her hands behind her nice bum and smoother the back of her skirt before sitting again and crossing those awesome little, curvy legs.

Down boy, I though as a part of me began a slow twitch. Crap... it never listens...

"A small glass of red wine, An-do-ryu-sensei."

Fug. The red wine is hot, and by that I mean sexy... but the 'sensei' (teacher) crap... she is thinking of me as her colleague.

I have some work to do.

To be honest... the rest of the evening was a blur. We ate my chili - she loved it! (Of course!), enjoyed the Merlot I had chosen for her, and was forever picking up my beer bottle and topping off my glass... and I think we chatted about me... was I homesick (no) (not really... I miss my family and friends - sure, but I love being in Japan and told her I would live here the rest of my life if I could) (Really.)

She told me about herself... her family... and we got to know each other for the first time.

At 9PM... right on the freaking dot... she stood up and said she had to go home.

Hey.. no problem for me... Noboko was special, I didn't want to have sex with her on the first date (I did want to have sex with her - something semi-violent and wet) - not that that was going to happen. Noboko was... classy? No... that's not the right word even though she was... no... she wasn't desperate.

So.. I walked her back down the hall to the front door... she turned to face me and... as she used one hand to help maneuver a foot into her two-inch heels, she reached out and steadied herself by gripping my arm.

She turned and grabbed hold of the door knob as I quickly reached over and past her to turn the door lock mechanism to unlock.

"I had a very nice time with you, Andrew." (She didn't say sensei!!! - and she said my name perfectly... it must have been the wine?)

"I also had a very nice time with you, Noboko." I was smiling and wondering if I should lean in for a kiss.

"Well... good night..." she said as she opened the door.

"Noboko," I said panicking... "Uhhh, would you like to go out on a date sometime?'

Opening the door wider, she stepped through and began pulling it shut behind her.

"I have your phone number."

Andrew "I wonder how she got my phone number" Joseph
PS: It's 12:13AM... and I have to edit my typing...  
Editing done as 12:38PM... and... publish!

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