Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Chilled Cheese with a Twist of Limey

Sometimes you hear a story and you think that there is no way that this could possibly be true. If you knew my buddy John Hepburn, you’d understand that with liquor, shrooms, and John, anything is possible. John was from Manchester and acted like it. He was cheap as hell, had an incomrehensible accent, and cursed like a marine. He had NO sense of any kind, common or otherwise.

At the time of this story John is living with my boyfriend of the week, Sam, and their Canadian friend, Tim, in a small three bedroom flat in the outskirts of Tokyo. This was one of the many points in my life where I mostly shopped and partied. (If you can believe it, I am actually much calmer now.) Anyway, a bunch of us expats (5 Brits and myself) decided to go to a nomihodai (a restaurant/bar where you pay a fee to drink all you want) then clubbing. The night progressed much as it normally did, with the exception that John decided to buy shrooms (which are perfectly legal in Japan) off of some skeezy guy (think the weird guy from Big Trouble in Little China) on the street.

We had a good time at the club and left there sometime between 3 and 4. We went to a nice little curry joint to wait for the subway to start running again (it quits at like 2:30 and starts at 4 or so). We are all very very drunk, and nearly all foreigners (though most of us speak nearly fluent or fluent Japanese) so we are attracting tons of warranted attention. Most of the attention was directed at John. This would be because John was white and 6’5,” kneading his curry rice like bread dough, and muttering angrily to no one in particular. Oli, his neighbor, is leaning on the table, focused on pretending he can’t smell curry, when out of nowhere John (who is a good foot taller) hurled his entire plate of steaming hot curry in Oli’s face. John lurched violently from his chair and lumbered out into the street like Frankenstein’s Monster. I ran out after him (who cares if Oli is blinded by a vindaloo, John is loose on the streets of Tokyo!) As we watched in silent horror, John ran across 6 lanes of traffic, jumped the subway turnstile and was gone.

After about thirty seconds we all shrugged, put Oli in a cab and the rest of us went to karaoke. I tried calling John a few times but I couldn’t get a hold of him on his cell phone. When the trains started running again we returned to our neighborhood and I went to my boyfriend’s apartment (Sam hadn't joined us that evening due to a hockey game).

The next morning someone started pounding on the door. Sam looked out the peephole and started laughing hysterically. He opened the door and John stormed in. He declared “Fuck all” in his impenetrable accent and stormed into the shower room. He had been dressed in black sweats and a white t-shirt, except that they were clearly made for a Japanese guy, not a giant Brit. He was also orange.

After his shower he sat down to tell us how this happened. This morning he woke up and it was freezing cold and pitch black. It also smelled terrible. The last thing John could remember was at the club. Suddenly he noticed that he felt very cramped and suffocated. He started to struggle, trying to kick out, only to come tumbling out of a fridge. Having short and long fridges to fit under counters is not completely abnormal.

He lay there for a moment staring at the ceiling of a room he had never seen before. He looked at the floor and noticed that there was food and bottles all over it. It was then he noticed two other things.
1. He was completely naked.
2. He was completely orange.

His first instinct was to get the hell out of this place, except he was orange and naked. He went to the sink and tried to wash some of the orange off. He then crept around the house looking for his clothes, wallet and cell phone. He couldn’t find any of that. He did find a Japanese couple in their early twenties naked, somewhat orange and asleep in one of the bedrooms. On the floor were several containers of squeezy cheese. John panicked grabbing clothes from a pile on the floor and decided to consider his keys, phone, wallet and clothes as a negligible loss.

He got out into the street and had no idea where he was. After wandering around for a few minutes he finally found a train station. He stared at the map realizing that he was in a suburb on the opposite side of Tokyo. In fact he was pretty much at the end of the line. He started walking up to Japanese people and in his best Japanese would say, “I’m sorry to bother you so rudely, but it’s that I have lost my wallet. Would you loan me the money to ride the train to Mitaka. I would mail it back to you.” This of course incited the Japanese housewives he was addressing to run away or at best say in bad English “English no good. I no speak English.” Which of course cause John, who was feeling kinda of crappy at this point to say in a loud and rude voice, “I’m speaking Japanese. Right now. See.” Which if they hadn’t already run away would quite ample inspiration to do so then. Finally a Kiwi came by and John was able to persuade him to give him the money he needed. John offered to pay him back, but apparently these sorts of things simply don’t happen in New Zealand and aside from this one good deed he wanted nothing to do with John.

John rode the train to the end. He looked at the map. He rode the next train till the end and into the heart of the city. Then the next back to Mitaka-Osawa (our neighborhood). As he exited the train station John saw his bike sitting forlornly on the corner. He walked over and realized his bike key was gone. The last of the Kiwi’s monkey was spent on the train ride back and John was not certain that Sam, Tim or I would be home to cover the cost of a cab. To cap it all John walked home (at least 2 miles) that day to cancel his cards, call the bank, get a new resident foreigner card, get new keys made, and finally to return two days later for his bike, to find it was stolen.

John never found his wallet, clothes, keys, or memory of what transpired that night.

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