Posts Tagged ‘Japanese’

I bought some mushrooms in Amsterdam, ate them, then while waiting for something to happen, ate some more.  After a while, when nothing had happened, I thought it was all a big dud.  That I had been had.  “Damn it all to hell,” I shrugged.  I had set aside the entire day to simply wander around the city anyway, so off I went into the back alleys of Amsterdam, gobbling the last of the mushrooms along the way.  I must have looked as ambivalent as the vendor selling Magic Beans in Ocarina of Time.

 

“Chomp chomp chomp… How about some magic beans?  They aren’t selling very well…”

Half an hour later, I walked into a local fast food restaurant and decided on a large banana milk shake, because if the choice was between banana and vanilla, what else would you buy?  When I checked my wallet to give the cashier my money, something very unusual happened: I suddenly had the sensation of being really,really drunk, but fully aware that I was aware that I felt really, really drunk.  “Huh, that’s weird as shit,” I thought to myself, handing the clerk two euros.  “This could be a terrible omen of my hubris.”

I stopped on one of Amsterdam’s many canals in order to fully enjoy my banana shake.  As I stood on the bridge spanning the canal, casually feeding the geese below, I realized that everything in the universe had been conspiring against me ever since I was born.  This was my first great realization, one that by itself would have been grounds for existential crisis in any normal situation, but it wasn’t until I came to terms that reality itself was slowly beginning to envelope me in an ephemeral chokehold that I had my second and most important realization: I was wading knee-deep in excrement.  I was aware of myself and my own thoughts to a remarkable degree, as though everyone else had been cast as bit extras in my life story and I was simply sifting through them as Kevin Spacey narrated my life; yet at the same time, I was also fully aware of just how weird shit was getting.  I learned that I had the innate ability to touch heat–I touched heat–and if I ever stayed motionless, I felt as though a deep-seated, carnal Darkness was jumping at the chance to consume me totally, so I had to keep moving, moving!  So, I moved.

I covered a lot of ground trying to stave off the Darkness.  I was absolutely lost in every sense of the word everywhere I went, and apparitions of colors began to interweave through the air like a symphony of Crayola.  Whenever I stopped to double-check my travel map, the colors had blended together a bit more.  After the second or third glance, I couldn’t distinguish the yellow streets from the blue canals.  At one point, I noticed that the cobblestone road was breathing–was it going to try to eat me, too?  I didn’t want to take any chances, so I hugged the walls.  And worse, because I needed to stand still each time I paused to consult my map, the Darkness was given free will to consume another healthy portion of my soul.  I could still feel my own heat, even though I was certain the banana milkshake must have cooled me down.  I zipped up my heavy coat, wrapped the hood around my head, and continued walking.

 

It looked just like this.

It was around that time that every noise began to be the best joke I had ever heard.  Weaving through the streets of Amsterdam with my heavy coat and hefty hood, nothing could stop me from giggling.  Everything was hilarious, but Dutch especially so; the language made me burst into laughter whenever I heard it, which, being in a Dutch-speaking nation, happened quite frequently.  I almost began to feel paranoid with my running internal monologue, thinking that around each new corner, there could be a surprise Dutch attack that would catch me off-guard.  The only defense I could muster was to cover my mouth with my hand like a giggling geisha.

Like this, I walked the streets of Amsterdam.  I still don’t know how I ended up back in my hostel–the map was perfectly useless to my eyes, but I guess the street signs helped a bit.  The world had become a veritable Crayola masterpiece when I walked up to my room and was greeted by a Japanese girl who had definitely been absent when I left earlier in the morning.  Starving for Japanese attention, I dove into a conversation.  I learned that she is from Nagoya, a major city bordering the rice fields where I once lived.  She doesn’t speak English.  She’s a college student studying architecture touring alone on basically the exact same trip as I am, and at twenty years old, her parents are proud of her, by the way; thanks for asking.  She seemed like a sweet, innocent girl, and reminded me a little too much of some of my old students.  But in the middle of our conversation, I looked around our room and realized that no one else was there.   And then I remembered that there had definitely been a Turkish guy in her bed when I first went out to explore the city in the morning, whose honest-to-God advice to me as I walked out the door had been “don’t eat too many mushrooms today!”  And that’s when it hit me: I suddenly convinced myself that I couldn’t be sure if she was real or not.

I’m not sure if you’ve ever paused to wonder if the person you’ve been enthusiatically speaking with for the past twenty minutes is, in fact, real, but this had the effect of making me feel extremely awkward.

While I was quietly distancing myself from our conversation by noisily shuffling through my backpack and wondering how to gather clues as to her (non)existence, the girl’s cell phone rang.  She answered on the first ring, and from her tone, I quickly gathered that it was her boyfriend.  I decided to play along and err on the side of her being a genuine person.  I sumimasen-excused myself into the ensuite bathroom, immediately drank a liter of water to recuperate, and overheard the worst of their conversation:  “Why do you want to break up?  Is there someone else?  What are you talking about?”  I splashed water on my face, and decided to drink even more, but the Japanese girl wouldn’t go away:  “What did I do to you?  Why are you saying this?  I’ll be in Japan again next month!”

I felt horrible to be able to overhear and understand, but I had already convinced myself that I wasn’t sure she existed beyond my own projected reality.  So I just kept drinking water, pausing every few gulps to peer through the door to check if she had disappeared (she hadn’t), then turned back to the sink, then peeked out again (still there), then drank a large amount of water, before I finally gave up and slipped out to the downstairs common room.  I heard her crying in the hallway as I climbed down.

I decided the best way to cross-check my reality was to anchor it directly upon someone else’s.  Approaching the clerk at the front desk, I asked if a Japanese girl had checked in to my room (mentioning that she had been a muscular Turkish man the first time we spoke) and he informed me that they had shuffled rooms.  This assured me that she was 100% genuine, admittedly overlooking the possibility that the secretary was also somehow a projection of my mind, which seemed increasingly unlikely.  The effect was wearing off.  I grabbed a pen and a piece of paper at the counter before walking away.

Turning to climb up the stairs to my room, I could hear her crying before I opened our door.  Her phone was lying beside her.  I apologized for overhearing her conversation–very Japanese of me–then I scribbled a message on a piece of paper:  “Dear Ms. Name-I-Don’t-Know, Are you OK?  Do you want to go drink a lot?”  She read it and laughed.  Then we started talking again, and I confessed that I thought she might have been an illusion.  She laughed some more, and I could see she was starting to feel better.  Her boyfriend hadn’t broken up with her after all, and her name is Mami, by the way; thanks for asking.  It was nighttime.  She wanted to go eat and see Amsterdam.  I wanted to drink.  So we went out and got drunk and ate French fries together by a church.

 

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Back when I first arrived in Japan three-and-a-half years ago, I was deeply in lust.  The cashier at my local McDonald’s (the one just past the rice fields) caught my eye and I wrote a power ballad on a series of napkins, lamenting the unattainable.  Although I later learned that she may have been, in fact, a teenager, that didn’t alter the fundamental dynamics of our relationship.  I associated McPork sandwiches with pleasure and those who handled my McPork sandwiches with all the trappings of a common streetwalker.  Pleasure was provided at a cost–120 yen for two buns–and I could scarcely hide the euphoria of interaction from my young students, who brought our relationship to a climax by confronting both of us at the counter: “Joshu, is she your type?”

“O damnation, children; it is not for you to bring into the light that which survives only when nurtured in the darkest recesses of our subconscious.”  Ours was the bread mold of love.

McDonald’s Girl, although your smile eventually faded as more stable and long-term relationships truly impacted more than my colon alone, one of whom is at the very heart of my trip around the world, I want to thank you for briefly making me feel like a schoolboy. I’ve thought about you and the fascinating 1:1 correspondence between food and romance.  I fear you would not recognize me anymore.  I’m much more confident.  I also hate your former employer.  And I don’t even really eat beef so much now.  But thanks to you, I once was lovin’ it.

 

Like this, except with more lotion.

 

To all the unrequited lovers out there, supersize your hearts and hear my sad story:

 

Ode to the McDonald’s Girl

Oh, McDonald’s Girl!

The way

You tilt your head

Your eyes light up

You stare at me

–And giggle!–

When I try to order every night, stammering

“Uhh, yes, good evening…I…umm…hmm…well…I want…”

But you

Just cut me off now,

Already knowing my order full well.

I pay you, briefly touching

And out from the fryer come

Two hot McPork sandwiches

My favorite.

Oh, you know me too well!

Just not Biblically,

But, oh,

How I would love to see you smile.

 

 

Oh, McDonald’s Girl!

I have been

So patient

Waiting in line for you

Behind all these other suitors.

How I

Would love for you to say,

“Welcome. Can I take your order?”

But until then

I wait,

Thinking

When will you let me

Have you to go?

Super-size our love?

Get free refills?

I want to do

Everything.

I’m lovin’ it.

 

 

Oh, McDonald’s Girl!

Why do you even ask?

You know

The only combo I want is

Me

And

You

And maybe

Your sister

Space permitting.

But please,

Hold the pickles.

Especially mine.

 

 

Oh, McDonald’s Girl!

Your food, it is

So bad

Yet it tastes

So good.

I wonder–

Is it cooked

With love?

Or is it

Something else–

Hydrogenated bean oil,

Perhaps?

But now there is no time,

Not to think

Not to muse

Not to ogle

Because my sandwiches

Are done,

Already.

Wow,

That’s the fastest

That’s ever happened,

I swear.

 

 

Oh, McDonald’s Girl!

I have to know:

Am I your only regular customer?

I sit at the booth and

I think about

The things I would do to you

If I knew your name

If I knew you consented

If I knew you were legal

But

Until I know your language,

I will never know you,

Biblically

Or otherwise.