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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Noboko And Andrew: The Kids Are All Right

The strangest thing about my return trip to Japan—and there were many strange things—was the fact that Noboko was no longer working.

It's September of 1993, and she had begun working as an English teacher at Nozaki Chu Gakko (Nozaki Junior High School) of the then-seven junior high schools in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken back in April of 1993.

I had never her asked why she was there… I had just assumed it was divine providence or karma, kismet or plain ol luck.

Between 1988 and now, 1993, I have been the luckiest guy on the planet… I have been Ferris Bueller, less the Ferrari joyride.

I had never even asked Noboko why she was able to hang out with me today… it's Tuesday, September 4… why wasn't she working today?

The Andrew of 2015 now is able to surmise that Noboko had taken over the teaching job at Nozaki for a maternity leave, and that person - that English teacher -  was now back on the job as of September.

Here's the other weird thing… I am pretty sure I didn't even notice that the English teacher Noboko stood in for on her shapely legs, had even been pregnant.

Wow… some investigative news reporter I was.

Of course, when it came to Noboko, I was never thinking as clearly as I could have been, as I think a perpetual hard-on robbed me of much of my brain power for six months straight.

So… it being September 4 and a Tuesday, Colin - the fine gentlemen who was letting me crash at his pad in Noboko's hometown of Kuroiso  - had to go to school to team teach at the Kuroiso Boys's High School.

We're having breakfast at 7:30AM - cereal - when the doorbell gingerly rings.

Colin gets up, takes a peek out the peephole and shakes his head in amazement.

"It's for you."

"Really? Cool," I say.

"She's really beautiful," preaches Colin to the converted. "You fuggin' a$$hole."

I don't take offense. I know what Colin means. She is way to good for me, and everyone except Noboko seems to know it.

I have no allusions about myself. Then or now. I get by on my personality…  which apparently isn't so hot in 2015. Who cares…

Anyhow, I open the door, she sees me, glances inside, sees Colin and kind of freezes.

I tell her to enter, and give her stiff form a hug.

"Noboko… this is my friend Colin. Colin, Noboko."

Colin bows, Noboko offers a hand.

It's comical to me, as each pays respect to the other's culture, but neither has the desired effect of a proper introduction.

"Okay… this time, everybody bow," I interject with a laugh, "and then you can shake hands. Bey!"

Intros out of the way, Colin chats up Noboko for a minute before excusing himself to get ready to go to work.

He hands me a spare key to his apartment, reminding me to lock up when we leave.

As soon as Colin is out the door, Noboko flings herself at me from her sitting position on the floor—Colin's place is pretty much all Japanese, excluding the kitchen and bathroom… tatami mats, low furniture, pillows and effing futons. I hate futons.

She's all smiles as she and I roll around on the tatami mats in Colin's living room area, kissing each other ferociously.

After about 10 minutes of hands all over the place, and I am convinced Colin won't be making an accidental return to his apartment, we unbutton each others clothes, unzip what needs to be unzipped, and unsnap what needs to be unsnapped.

I'd describe it all for you, but I'm trying NOT to turn this blog into an X-rated page.

A couple of hours later, we come up for air, wipe down the tatami mats, dress and get the heck out of Colin's place.

As we get into her red Suzuki micro car, she says "I can't believe you came back."

Hunh… she didn't believe me when I said I would.

What else didn't she believe? Does she believe that I love her? That I want to marry her? That I am here to show her that we belong together despite the wishes of her father or possible even of herself?

"If I say I am going to do something, Noboko, I always do it."

I continue: "So, what else didn't you believe of me? I have said many a time that I love you. Do you believe that?"

"Yes," she smirks. "And I love you, too. You coming back to see me proves that."

In my head, I wanted to ask her why I had to come back to Japan in order to prove I loved her. Surely she knew that before I left about 40 days earlier…

but maybe that was just a mistranslation… or it was exactly what she said, but it came out wrong… screw it.

I leave it alone.

I haven't seen Noboko in nearly 40 days… we just had some awesome, nasty sex… I should have opened the windows in Colin's place to air it out… man… we have to get back home before he does, or he's really going to hate me…

We go to the local park, sit around on some benches, and rocks… I push her on the swings… we act like horny teenagers… and go and grab some lunch.

Or at least we would have - my treat - except that Noboko has a lunch basket filled with two o-bento boxes… unagi-don (barbecued eel on rice), some sour pickles, some leafy green veggies, stirred with sesame seeds…

She allows me to pay for a couple of drinks from a nearby vending machine.

I'm a Coca-Cola kindda guy, and luckily Noboko not only endures that habit, she partakes in it with me… though we also get a couple of cans of chilled Japanese o-cha (green tea), because, although it is September, it is frickin' hot.

At 3:30PM after more walking around and window shopping and frolicking in a park or two, Noboko says she has to drive me home now, because she has to be back home by 4PM.

"How come?"

"I'm supposed to be studying at the library."

"Both your mom and dad think that?"

"Come onnnnn," she moans. "You know my mother knows I'm with you."

"She made the lunch, didn't she?," I state.

"Yes… how did you know?"

"Because it was delicious."

Thank goodness Noboko is a tiny woman, because her punches don't pack much power.

She smacks me a couple of times, mutters her cute muttering in Japanese, cursing everything about me, and then tries to punch me in the nuts.

"Hey! Careful! Do you want to hurt our children?"

She stopped, looked at me… which scared me, because she WAS driving down a main thoroughfare… and says, "No…. do you want me to kiss the pain away."

What do you think? The problem is, of course, she is STILL offing driving!!!!

"Not right now… Car!"

We get home in one piece, Colin is already home for some reason, and the windows are open.


He knows what happened, but to his credit, Colin is too cool a guy to mention it.

It's not shyness… people tell me stuff… embarrassing stuff about themselves or of myself all the time… and it's all good.

Somewhere, the kid's are all right,
Andrew Joseph         



  1. 1993... I was 9 in 1993. Noboko seemed like a bold woman to me, for some reason...

    1. Bold? Yes... but I actually found that with everybody in Japan. There's that whole public persona and then the private persona... Maybe it's just me, but I have a smile on my face... and will tell jokes, ask any question that pops into my head without being gross or perverse, and people will provide an answer... they see me as being open, and so are more open with me. It's both good and bad. Sometimes people will say or do something completely offensive to me, figuring I'm SOOOO open, but I'll correct them - which shuts them down, or I won't be so communicative with them... everyone has to learn boundaries, and I'm pretty good at not exceeding them with people. I've screwed up, though, and been told... but as long as you are forthwith in an apology, things can proceed from there... usually.
      Noboko and I were very bold together.
      She had lived on her own as a single woman for a few years in Osaka and Kobe prior to coming back to live with her parents in nearby Kuroiso... so she was already used to doing things her way...
      Plus, with guys hitting on her all the time, she developed walls to protect herself.... she was certainly like that when I first saw her and immediately hit on her with a love poem... though I'm pretty sure that was damn unique for her, rather than just trying to pinch her butt like most guys would have done in a drunken office party.
      Japan was also a coming out party for me... I had never left home before, so I was wild... within reason. I was also aware that I was shy, so I used alcohol to overcome said shyness... I wouldn't recommend that for anyone, however. Even though the Japanese do it.
      I did let go... and during said drunken bouts with co-workers where I proved I could out drink, out-eat (eat anything, actually) the Japanese, I earned their respect... plus, being a nice guy the kids liked... the world was my oyster...
      Bold? Yes... I was... Noboko... not in public at work... but her boldness with me later - that was in defiance of her father... or to show me (or her) that we could be together...
      Bonbon2 - thanks for writing... I fear here that I've combined MY own comments to multiple comments you left me...
      I really do appreciate you taking the time to comment!
      Enjoy Japan - I agree with you that the office enkai can be a strain, but pour the drinks for everyone - and do it often... it's just one evening a month or three... and have fun with it - and smile - always smile. :)