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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Noboko And Andrew: Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

This is it, kiddies… fasten your seatbelts because…well, actually… I don't care… fall out of your seat if you must…

It's 1990. I have completed three years on the JET Program - we could only do a maximum of three one-year contracts at that time - and I am not allowed to stay any longer. I went back to Toronto for one month and then hopped on a plane and returned to Japan.

I had a good reason. Noboko.

I want to marry her… she wants to marry me. She won't marry me because she knows it would upset her father. Her father wants her to get married to remove the stigma of him having an old maid daughter. But, he doesn't want me to marry her because it will create a new stigma that his daughter is a disgrace for not being able to find a real Japanese husband. Her father (I assume) worries about the mongrel kids we will have, and how he will hate them. Mongrel - sure… but the best-looking mongrels ever!

The thing is… while Noboko's mom is on our side, her father actually likes me. He really does. He told Noboko that… and in fact… I am sure that he probably wouldn't mind that I married his only daughter… but the fact remains he believes others in the hierarchy of his profession in the prefectural education segment WOULD care, and hold it against him when job promotion-time came.

In Japan, image IS everything.

So… basically, after the JET contract was up, I had to come back to try and convince Noboko to not be a slave to her father's 'good intentions' or convince her father, Mister Kikuchi-san, to give up his personal ambition for the good of his daughter.

He probably figures that I might be the only other man on this planet who has any chance of taming her wild nature. Truth be told, she's not a wild child. She is a perfectly normal woman, who's only fault is that she adheres to Japanese rules and regulations at the wrong time.

What do I mean? Well… she was engaged previously to a Japanese guy… and ended it shortly before the scheduled wedding. That's not cool for the Japanese.

As well, she's considered old, hitting the ripe old age of 28... she hasn't even hit her peak in my mind, but regardless of Japanese society, she's young, vibrant, beautiful, sexy and sexual.

I've been in Japan (again), since… well… I left Toronto on September 3… and I think arrived on the 5th… but whatever… it's now Monday, September 13 - holy crap… the 1990 calendar is the same as the 2015 calendar… 

I'm supposed to leave Japan on the 20th… but I'm not ready.

So… checking with Colin who has graciously allowed me to stay at his apartment these past two weeks, I call the airline and move my departure date back to October 4, 1993. Two more weeks giving me three in total to make or break it.

I figure that since Mister Kikuchi and I just got our friendship on, I need to have more time to make sure that opportunity isn't wasted.

When Noboko arrives at Colin's apartment later that morning - why she was late, I never asked - she was all happy-happy-joy-joy at the news I'd be staying longer… or perhaps at the thought she didn't have to make a decision soon.

Here's the thing… every time I have tried to force the issue with Noboko to just say fug it, the hell with everyone, let's get married today… it has backfired.

The fact that she let me go back to Toronto at the end of July 1993 without providing me with a satisfactory answer was disarming enough.

But this time… this time… it feels different.

Noboko drives me up to her parent's house, where her Mom has made us (really me) lunch: pork tonkatsu, pickled veggies, some tempura, and even a large bottle of my favorite Kirin Lager beer. It's 1990 and I'm not fat and overweight as I am now. I've also cut my hair off... no more pony-tail, because I want her father to know I'm not a complete jackass.

Noboko, by the way likes the more adult me, even though I'm sure my style of clothing on this trip does not reflect much more maturity - except for when I dress up because I'm going to meet her parents.

Her mom seems pleased that I ate everything—proof positive that I really do want to impress them, and that I really do love Japan.

Truth be told, rare is the time I have eaten (in the ensuing years) any Japanese food outside of Japan that tasted as good as the 'real' stuff one gets in Japan.

But that's not the point. Besides being a guy with a healthy appetite, I also have a more than healthy appetite for Noboko, and would gladly eat glass if she asked me to.

Chances are I have, because Noboko herself isn't the greatest of cooks… and as if to prove it, her mom was teasing her that she was going to have to become a better cook if she was to keep me happy.

When Noboko translated that for me, I merely smiled and gave mom the terse Japanese nod and "Mm", showing I sternly agreed, but immediately burst into a smile so Noboko wouldn't take offense.

"I am sure there are other ways you can make me happy," I implied lasciviously and somewhat slyly in non-translated English, but just basking in her presence… just feeling the warmth of her hand in mine under the table…

I can't explain it. But when you are with someone… the whole universe feels 'right'. Some of you probably know what I mean. Even if it was just for a moment or two.

So what the hell, man! Why won't she just admit that OUR life together is more important than her father's work life?

For a foreigner… for a foreigner who comes from a country and a society where the children are encouraged to be who they are… Japan seems archaic.

I love the structure I see in Japanese culture, but that is probably my naiveté, as I, from the outside, get to cherry-pick the best of the best aspects of Japan.

Time passes in the Kikuchi household, her mother bades me to stay longer to await dinner—and for some reason I feel as though I am intruding and beg off.

I explain to Noboko that nothing would make me happier to spend more time with her and her mother in their house, but I don't want to 'surprise' her father with my presence.

I know he wouldn't think I'm a mooch, or anything as mundane as that. I know he knows I want to steal his daughter. I simply don't want to stay because he isn't aware I am staying.

If they ask/discuss/or tell him tonight that I'll be hanging around the house on Tuesday, I'll stick around.

Was that wrong? I have this horrible habit of thinking about the affairs and feelings of others, and sometimes that impacts negatively upon myself or others who are closer.

Noboko and her mom want me to stay… perhaps it was to put more pressure on her father… so why am I so concerned about his feelings?

It cuts both ways… I just don't know which way has better optics.

Andrew Myopic Joseph 
PS: The true story continues in two days time.

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