The following occurred in 2005…
I’m in the back of a long line waiting for the next train. It’s actually a pair of parallel lines before the position where each door will eventually be. The woman directly across from me glances my direction a number of times and looks very uncomfortable about where she may wind up once we board this train. How do I know? Let’s just say i know from experience. I watch these fuckers everyday. They’re as predictable as those crows that go through my trash. She decides she doesn’t want to risk it and switches to another line. When she arrives at the rear of that line she glances over at me to confirm she has a minimum safe distance.
I choose her. Actually she selected herself.
Once she’s focused on the arriving train I switch lines, too. Thinking she has left the danger behind she doesn’t notice me pull up behind the man behind her. The train pulls into the station. It’s crowded. The man behind her glances back at me, then gives me the gaijin double take. I steady myself. He fish eyes me and then rubbernecks me again, and then his cowardliness gets the best of him and he bolts to another line, glancing back to make sure he isn’t being followed. I wish I could do him too, motherfucker, but she has first dibs.
The outgoing passengers have exited the train and the procession begins towards the doors. Now, I’m behind the woman who had switched lines. By the time she reaches the train the car is full. The next train is a full five minutes a way. She’s thinking, it’s this one or else, I can read in her body langauge. She decides to board and peeks behind her as she enters to see who’s there.
It’s me, baby!
Suddenly she shifts gears, she is going to enter this train and get as far away from me as possible, no matter who she has to go through to do so. Everyone facing the door has seen all of this going down. They see her, they see me, they see her reaction to me, they share her feelings: every one of them. I can see it. I can feel it. The tension in the bodies around me. The effort not to look at me marks me as the draw of all their attention as much as staring at me would. She burrows into this mass of alertness and fear. A hole opens in the mass and snaps shut behind her, like a vagina. I’ve seen this hundreds of times before. Usually I grit my teeth and bear it, or pretend not to see it, or convince myself that ignoring it is in my best interest.
But, not today. Today, we will have none of that. Today, it is entirely unacceptable.
Today is Retaliation Day!
I shift gears, too. I thrust into the mob, but the mob resists. I thrust again against this wall. It gives a little than snaps back. I can feel briefcases and stiff shoulders pretending to be innocuous but forcing against me. A surge of rage infused adrenalin seeps into my veins and I violently slash through a weak point, some high school boy not as vigilant as the salarymen. I almost stumble with the give he allowed and I find myself right behind the woman. She is doing something with her cellphone, looking relaxed. She thinks she has escaped me. I reach over her head for the handle and in doing so purposely brush my elbow through her long black hair. She glances up at my hand and she sees it’s brown…not Japanese. She jerks her head around to find me up against her. Smiling.
“Good Morning!” I say. “Nice day, isn’t it?”
She’s mortified. Good!
“Can’t you speak English? No? Well, my Japanese sucks. You do know good morning don’t you?”
She smiles and smiles and moves her hair out of her face over and over and starts to shake a bit and looks like she’s about two seconds from having a conniption so I lay off. I feel somewhat satisfied. That’ll teach her ass, I hope. And, if not, fuck it, it felt good.
A shoulder rams me a bit harder than the rocking of the train would justify so I look around to see the back of a salaryman’s head. He wants to assault me, perhaps to avenge this woman’s embarrassment but he doesn’t have the balls to face me. I turn away from her and direct my attention to him. He fish eyes me and realizes that he has drawn my attention away from her.
“Good Morning to you too, motherfucker!” I say.
He peeks at me over his shoulder. Then looks away.
“Yeah, I’m talking to you. Throw your shoulder now, asshole, while I’m looking.”
He turns his whole body so that his back is squarely to me. I want to punch him in the back of his coiffed mousse’d head but that would be uncalled for, in Japan anyway. In NY, he probably would’ve gotten it already. He has really gotten under my skin.
“Yappari na,” I say. “Omae wa ge– mitai da na!” (Just as I thought, you fucking punk!) I think I’ve said it right.
The train jolts a bit but instead of reaching for the handle closest to me I reach for the one on the other side of this guy in front of me, and in doing so elbow him in the head pretty solidly.
“Gomen nasai, aho,” I say. (I’m sorry, you prick)
He ignores my half-ass apology and pretends to read an advertisement above his head, hanging from the ceiling of the car. Then he shifts to read another ad down the end of the car somewhere then he looks at his watch and searches his pocket for something…and then…Japanese men are a sorry ass site when they get all bumfuckled. I almost felt sorry for him. He is absolutely terrified when in reality he could probably hold his own if not kick my ass in a fight. I’m twice his age and half as healthy and he probably exercises daily and jogs and plays soccer on the weekends and studied Kendo and shit in school…obviously he has a little heart. He had enough heart to shove a shoulder at me. But, alas, he’s pussy! Fuck him.
I get off the next stop and as I do I tap the woman on the shoulder and say, “Bye bye, see you tomorrow, have a nice day!” Then I shove through the crowd like a half-back making a hole for his running back.