Where Everybody Knows Your Name
Next to my first apartment, there’s a small little mom and pop bar/restaurant. It’s run by an older couple whom most of the patrons actually call “Momma” and “Poppa”. Although, to be fair, the only one really working is Momma. Momma is constantly busy pouring everyone’s drinks, cooking the food, and ringing up the bills. Poppa’s investment in the place is to sit down, drink his own beer, and watch Hanshin Tigers baseball games on TV. It always reminds me that Japan is a country where you can actually get away with this kind of thing, if Poppa tried that with an American woman I don’t think he’d make it past the second inning before getting bludgeoned by a frying pan. And then, as the ambulance takes him away, police would ring him up on domestic abuse charges for attacking Momma’s frying pan with his head.
Anyway, as it was next door, and as my own kitchen was about the size of a Post-It note, I used to go pretty often. Momma made a pretty good okonomiyaki, and it was fun to watch Japanese baseball with all the old guys, who got into the game as their very lives depended on a Hanshin victory.
I used to go.
One day I went, and as all the tables were full I took a seat at the bar. Momma began to engage me in conversation as she always did, and as is destined to always come up, she asked if I had a girlfriend. At the time I didn’t and said so. She then told me that “two young beautiful girls” were coming, and I should stick around and meet them. Granted, I’d really only seen older folks at this place, but who knows? Maybe one of these old guy’s daughters? Who am I to turn down not one, but two young beautiful girls? I wasn’t getting my hopes up or anything, but I thought it could be interesting at least.
After twenty minutes or so they showed up. And they were neither young or beautiful. The only truthful part about “two young, beautiful girls” was that there were definitely two of them. I question whether or not they were even female, but the only ways I could check that would leave me mentally scarred for life, so I just decided to trust them on that one. The *ahem*”girls” took a seat next to me at the bar, and Momma started trying to sell me up to them, saying how I was a cool Gaijin who understood Japanese and what not. The girls only seemed passively interested, thank goodness.
Some time passed, and one of the tables opened up. The girls immediately moved to it. There had been some old guy sitting on the other end of the girls, and as they moved to the table he moved as well. He then pulled out the remaining open chair and gestured towards me. The entire establishment literally froze in time to see what I would do. Poppa even took a time out from his beer, which is a major event in itself. I think even the Hanshin Tigers stopped playing to see what I was going to do. What I really wanted to do was go home, turn on some Bryan Adams, and softly cry in my pillow over why I wasn’t having any *good* luck with Japanese women. In that situation though, all I could do was take the empty chair.
The old dude, as it would turn out, was really, really perverted. One of the girls got up to go to the bathroom, and as she came back the old guy put his hand on the chair so that she sat on it. Why he’d want to stick his hand in *there* is beyond me, at best he was risked getting it crushed. “Oh you!” the girl says, slapping his hand away. Later, the girls take an interest in my hair.* They’re running their hands through it, asking me if it’s my natural hair. Old guy pipes up. “THIS is my natural hair!” he says, doing a D-Generation X-ish crotch-chop. Okay, now I just want to throw up a little bit. Later still, the girls ask me what sports I like. I tell them baseball. Old guy pipes up again. “I like softball!” he says, and he reaches out to grab one of the girl’s tits. “You’re such a perv!” she squeals, playfully slapping his hand away. This old fart is trying to molest you, why don’t you care?
*Japanese people are fascinated by black male hair. If you are a black male, all you need to do to pacify an entire room of Japanese is lower your head and let them pet you like a sheep. This is good to know in case you are ever cornered by any yakuza or something.
After 45 minutes of *fun*, sitting at the table, the girls finally decide to introduce themselves. One girl introduces herself, and then the other girl. However, when introducing the other girl, she used a term in Japanese I wasn’t quite familiar with. I told her I didn’t understand. She takes a moment to think about it, then hits me with the following, in English no less – “She is my lesbian lover.”
Ooooooookay, let’s recap. On one side, I’ve got the Japanese version of Larry Flynt. On the other, I’ve got the Japanese versions of Rosie O’Donnell and Star Jones, and really, who’s to stop them from engaging in some hot, manly bull-dyke sex right here on the table?
If this doesn’t call for Superman, then I just don’t know what does.
I patiently wait it out and at the first possible chance, I make my excuses to leave. As I’m paying, the group in the restaurant tells me that Momma is going to have a barbeque on Saturday two weeks from now, why don’t I come too? “Saturday, eh?” I say. “Saturday, Saturday … I’m pretty sure I’m busy on Saturday.”
Az’s Date Planner for Saturday: Practice raising right eyebrow without raising left one
The group continued to urge me to come, and I continued to insist that I was busy. I left the bar that night, and pretty much never went back. Despite it being so close, and cheap, and an easy way to eat, I’d think about the possibilities … more dirty old men and scary butch “women” and more molestation than you can shake a stick at, and I’d just kinda lose my appetite. And my will to live.
Instant ramen never looked so good.