So I quit my job. In a perfect world, I would have my next job all lined up and waiting for me. And in this perfect world, that job would be something like professional cheesecake taster, or even better, actual-use condom tester. I would be paid generously, set my own schedule, and have ridiculous perks like always getting to fly first class, and free peanut butter whenever I saw fit.
Unfortunately, I do not live in a perfect world, which meant that being unemployed once again put me at home with a lot of free time on my hands. Furthermore, with my live-in girlfriend going to her proper job every weekday, that effectively made me a live-in house husband. I told her that she was perhaps the first, and quite possibly only/last Japanese girl to be the one bringing home the bacon while her mate lounges around at home doing nothing. Usually, I’m pretty happy to set precedents, but for some odd reason she didn’t seem too pleased with this one.
With my newfound free time on weekdays, I decided to explore an aspect of Japanese culture I’d never experienced before–that of the bored housewife. Though things are slowly changing, many women only hold career jobs until they get married, or pregnant (although pregnancy seems to follow marriage pretty darned quickly). The woman will quit her job to take care of the kid, but once all the kids in a household hit junior high school, the woman will pretty much be absolved of that duty, as kids seem to spend 85% of their lives at school. Some women may take on part-time jobs or other work to help pass the time. But for the rest…well, that’s what I set out to find out. Just what exactly is a day like for the average Japanese Peg Bundy, anyway?
I usually like to sleep in on mornings, but with my girlfriend going off to work, it woke me up, and I found that I couldn’t go back to sleep. In that weird sort of funk where you’re awake but don’t necessarily want to do anything, really the only choice is to turn on the TV and sort of vegetate until you do properly wake up.
Now, I’ve ranted before that Japanese TV is the most horrible thing on the face of the Earth. I would like to correct myself, because I was wrong. Japanese morning TV is the most horrible thing that mankind has ever created. Like, God himself could come down and begin the Apocalypse, and if a small delegation of us approached him and said, “Why God, why?” And God’s answer was just to show us an hour of Japanese morning TV, we’d have to accept our rightful doom and quietly climb right down the mountain.
Luckily for me, there were a few sensational news stories at this time that kept things somewhat interesting. In one incident, a young girl accused her older brother of “having no dreams.” In response, the boy hit her in the head with a baseball bat, then choked her to death. He then chopped up her body in the hopes of hiding it, but was eventually found out. In another case, a salaryman came home drunkenly one night and passed out on his bed, only to have his wife kill him by smashing a wine bottle over his head. Finding that the body was far heavier to carry than she thought, she chopped him up into pieces, stuffed the parts into suitcases and bags, and dumped them in various places around Tokyo, at one point riding the trains with his severed head in a travel bag.
Now, all you unimaginative people out there would probably figure that news stories involving family members violently killed and then dismembered are plenty interesting on their own. Nope. Morning/Daytime Japanese TV features “Wide” shows, whose purpose is to take news stories such as these and exhaust every possible angle to the fullest degree. So, where we have a troubled and angry brother lashing out against his younger sister, the wide shows give us the possibility of an incestuous relationship, and the brother being jealous over the (big-breasted) younger sister dating a man 10 years her senior (probably for money). And it wasn’t just enough to know that the housewife killed and dismembered her husband, no–the wide shows produced scale-replicas of the apartment, complete with CGI rendering of how the husband drunkenly stumbled home, in what order the wife chopped him up in, and how she used potted plant soil to soak up the blood.
If I were God, *I* would be starting the Apocalypse over this shit.
Interestingly enough, I believe the brother and wife were first charged with “improper disposal of a dead body.” Some three weeks later, after extensive and exhaustive confessions, the brother was finally charged with murder. I never recall hearing the wife getting the murder charge. Although knowing the Japanese judicial system, the judge will give them seven years in jail and say something like, “What you did was very, very bad! Shame!”
What always amazes me about Japanese crime though is how quickly the guilty own up to it. There’s no lengthy trial, no DNA testing or forensics, it all seems pretty simple…
Police: So, um, your husband’s missing.
Woman: Yeah. I noticed.
Police: And you aren’t at all distressed about this?
Woman: I guess I should be, huh?
Police: You know, that’s kind of suspicious.
Woman: All right, you’ve got me. I admit it. I killed him. I bludgeoned him to death, and when his body was too heavy to carry, I chopped him up into travel-size pieces and dumped him all over Tokyo. If you like, I can mark on this map where the pieces you haven’t found are.
Police: That would be nice.
Woman: Also, would you like to know the brand of the potting soil I used to soak up his blood?
It’s quite different from how things work back in America…
Police: Holy shit, this woman has been stabbed to death. Hey you! Do you know what’s going on?
Guy: I don’t know officers, I just got here.
Police: Really? Cause her blood is all over your shirt.
Guy: Yeah, see, I just tripped and fell, she was already dead by the time I got here, honest.
Police: …You’re holding a knife.
Guy: …This isn’t mine. See, there was this guy, and just as I got here, he was like “hold this,” so I did, and then he ran away, and then you guys showed up.
Police: …Uh-huh. By the way, is your name David White?
Guy: Yeah, how’d you know that?
Police: Well, it looks like the woman managed to scribble “David White is my killer” in her blood before dying…
Guy: It was that dude! I told you, that dude who was here before! He ran up to me, and he was all, “Hey, what’s up? My name is David White, here hold this.” I remember that, cause I was like, “Whoa, this dude has the same name as me!” You need to be searching for that guy.
Police: Right. Well, results have come back from the lab, and we’ve found some of your semen on the victim.
Guy: What the fuck are you, CSI?!
Afternoon: Activity Time
Being thoroughly disgusted by Japanese TV will make one want to actually leave the house and do something productive. Many bored housewives use this opportunity to study English. They may visit one of the English conversation schools, study on their own, or enlist a private Gaijin English tutor. If the tutor is male and handsome enough, she may also enlist him for some “extracurricular” studying, if you catch my drift. Not that I know anything about that. Nosireebob.
Anyway, as it was pointless for me to study English (seeing in how me English are perfect anyways), I dedicated this time to going to the gym. It was actually a pretty good time to go–with only housewives and retired folks, the gym wasn’t at all too crowded, and I could work out in peace. Not to mention that sometimes I could observe some of the studio programs, and believe me when I tell you that there is nothing more amusing on this Earth than watching 60+ year old Japanese grannies practicing Hip Hop Dancing. I am seriously not even making that up.
With only housewives and retirees, I could work out in peace. For the most part. Sometimes the old folks would stop to marvel at me. Now, I work out with headphones, mostly because Japanese gym music fucking sucks (how in God’s green Earth are The Carpenters supposed to motivate me to do anything other than jump out the window?), but it also does a good job of keeping everyone else away. Most Japanese people don’t think I can speak Japanese anyway. So perhaps one day, these two old guys, seeing me with my headphones, and naturally assuming I wouldn’t understand anyway, decided to talk about me right in front of my face. Even if I didn’t understand Japanese, I’d like to think that I’d be at least somewhat clued in to two guys standing in front of me, pointing at me, and looking over my shoulder. Apparently, foreigners in Japan not only don’t understand Japanese, but are also fundamentally retarded as well.
Anyway, curious at to what they were saying, I put my “Techno Syndrome” (MORTAAAAAAL KOMBAAAAAAAAT!!!) on pause to hear the conversation.
Guy 1: Hey, look at this. Look at how much this guy is curling.
Guy 2: Wow, 45 kilos!
Guy 1: I certainly couldn’t even do that in my prime.
Guy 2: I think my daughter weighs 45 kilos. He’s basically arm-curling my daughter.
Guy 1: Why is he here? He doesn’t need to get any stronger. For what purpose could he be training?
Guy 2: It’s certainly very scary, isn’t it?
For a moment, I considered taking off my headphones and saying something like, “All the better to eat you with,” but I ultimately decided against it.
With my girlfriend working hard everyday, I decided the least I could do for her was prepare dinner. Hey, I’ve got some culinary skills. My free time also afforded me the chance to expand my menu, try some new things. After finishing up at the gym, I’d swing by the local grocery store to pick up foodstuffs for the day’s meal. This was the prime time for housewives to be at the supermarket buying groceries for their home dinners –I could always tell it blew their minds to have not only a young male, but a young Gaijin male in their ranks.
It’s funny, because there are times when we foreigners just blow a Japanese person’s mind wide open, and they can’t handle it. Case in point–I wanted to cook teriyaki chicken one night. So I went to the supermarket to buy teriyaki sauce and couldn’t find it anywhere! I looked in sauces, spices, seasonings, but teriyaki was nowhere to be found. I figured the Japanese just had some wacky place they decided to keep it, so I asked a store clerk, a middle-aged Japanese woman, about it.
Me: Um, excuse me? Do you have teriyaki sauce?
Woman: *blinks daftly*
Me: Teriyaki sauce? Do you have teriyaki sauce?
Woman: Oh, no, we don’t.
Me: WTF?! How is this the country of teriyaki, yet you don’t sell teriyaki sauce?* Anyway, if I wanted to make teriyaki sauce, what would I need to buy?
Woman: Why would you want to make teriyaki sauce?
Me: Well, I’m cooking dinner tonight, and…
Woman: You’re cooking dinner?
Me: Well, yes, I wanted to make teriyaki chicken tonight, so I came to buy teriyaki sauce, but since you guys don’t have it, I guess I gotta make it.
Woman: You’re cooking dinner?
Me: Forget about it.
*I still have yet to find a supermarket that sells bottled teriyaki sauce. WTF is up with that? Seriously?
My girl comes home from a hard day of work, and I have a nice, delicious, hot dinner waiting for her. After a short rest period, she takes a shower. Now, despite being unemployed, I’ve had an eventful day. I watched horrible, horrible TV, I went to the gym, I bought groceries, and I cooked dinner. I listened to my girlfriend gripe about her work. Now it was time to turn the lights down low, put on a little Barry White, and get it on. It was time for romance. It was time for me to get some. I hop in bed ready and waiting. She gets out of the shower, blow-dries her hair, and eventually joins me. “Oh man, I’m so tired!” she says, and she rolls over, and is asleep almost instantly.
What the fuck is this shit?
Man, I really am becoming Japanese. Did someone order a global apocalypse?