Bored in Kanagawa, one of my faithful readers, has given me the assignment of talking about a strange relationship I’ve had in Japan.
Hmmm…let’s see now.
Ah, here’s one:
I was sitting in a Doutor’s coffee shop in Yokohama studying Japanese, puffing a stogie and sipping some of their rather bland but cheap Blend Coffee when I noticed a girl noticing me. The thing about Japanese people is you can tell the ones who are comfortable with foreigners instantly. They’re the ones who’d look at you when you’re looking at them.
I smiled and went back to me book. It was a great book: Jim Thompson’s “The Killer in me” I read it periodically even though it makes me feel more Loco for that fucker (the main character) is decidedly gone but I can see eye to eye with him on many things. It’s not as disturbing as, say, American Psycho,which I’ve yet to finish reading though I’ve made several attempts at it. Bret Easton Ellis just created a character too unsettling to let sit in my mind for too long a period.
While I was pondering such things I look up to see her standing before me.
“Do you like Obama?” She asked like we had been introduced and were amid a conversation about our likes and dislikes.
When a Japanese person starts a conversation with me I immediately think they are insane it’s so untypical. But, I’ve been wrong several times. Everyone in the smoking area looks up at the sound of English. English and those who speak it cause most Japanese to experience Iwakan (違和感) which is a feeling of incompatibility or malaise or general awkwardness and discomfort. To the undiscerning eye the resulting behavior can be misconstrued as racism or xenophobia, and perhaps it is in some cases, but i have learned that I have misread this behavior so often I hardly know what to make of it anymore.
So, yes, upon the sound of English, some people decided it was time to leave and did so. Which opened up a seat next to me.
“Uhhh, well, yeah I love him, actually,” I replied though I detested the question. It’s one of those “Yappari” questions Japanese love to ask…questions that confirm there ideas about the world. He’s black so he probably likes Obama.The same thing occurs in America, though. Ignorant white people would ask me questions like do you like basketball and Hip Hop, and what not. You want to say “No” but the truth I do love Hip Hop and Basketball, and Obama. This Japanese girl though probably saw it as a nice ice breaker. A way to show me that she was thinking globally and not locked mentally into what takes place within this tiny island group known as Japan…like most of her brethren.
“Me too…” she shrieked like this was the oddest and most surprising coincidence that had ever occurred in her life. I thought, oh no, a crazy! I smiled and contemplated my escape.
“Yes we can, ne!” she said…her eyes were pin-balling around her sockets, magnified by her glasses. She was half-cute, the other side of 40, holding up pretty well though, shapely and whatnot. Her face was a little pot-marked but not too badly. She had a yaeba but it didn’t protrude from her mouth too much. All in all not entirely undo-able…if I were drunk. I almost said, ‘no the hell we can’t, sorry!’
She took the empty seat beside me presuming my smile was one of welcome and pleasure. It wasn’t.
“Are you christian?” she asked.
“No I’m not. Are you?”
She laughed like it was a ridiculous question. She laughed loud! “No, no, oh no, not christian.”
She began to tell me about her religion. Her English was halting and jumbled and barely comprehensible, obviously the product of a scattered brain and even though I told her Japanese was ok she continued to use her English, inserting Japanese only when she got stuck for a word. The closest I can come to explaining her religion would be it’s a cross between Wicca and Buddhism. I don’t know how she knew but she had pegged me correctly. I am very interested in the occult. My mother is a Yoruba Priestess as I’ve mentioned before and I was now fascinated to hear about a Japanese version of it.
It’s a small, strange world after all.
Sometimes we meet for drinks and I tell her about Yoruba and all the strange things I’ve witnessed, possessions and animal sacrifices and whatnot. And she tells me about her travels. She travels around to different areas of Japan where there are temples and retreats for people in her sect. While there she participates in various ceremonies…some of them are quite fascinating. Most recently she went to one where her spiritual IQ is divined through a medium and she informed me that hers is very high. I believed her. She doesn’t seem to be all here so it’s easy to believe that she might be co-existing on several planes of reality at once. (-:
I look forward to meeting her…we’ve become friends.
Japan just keeps surprising me…