Show Me the Honey
One of the downsides of being a gaijin in a small Japanese town is that you stand out. A lot. And Japanese people love to gossip. It’s actually one of the only fun things they can do (the suckosity of Japanese TV has been covered in-depth). So anytime you leave the house, you bet your bottom dollar there’s at least one pair of eyes on you at all times, and the mouth connected to those eyes will relay the things you did to no less than two other people.
And especially for me, being black and so much bigger than all of them, it’s a lot like playing “spot the whale” in a goldfish tank. Or, it’s like “Where’s Waldo?” if Waldo were a Pakistani Elephant sitting in a field full of sheep. Plus, as an English teacher I’ve been in the town newspaper several times (as well as the Kyoto Shimbun twice now), so everyone just knows who I am, and my daily events have become an integral part of the town chatter. As you can imagine, this makes having a private life somewhat difficult, to say the least.
Anyway, what all this leads up to is that I brought a girl home one Saturday night. No, I’m not gonna get into it. Let’s just say Az Did Not Fail At Dating, the end. Sunday afternoon, we decided to take a walk in the town park, which is actually quite nice. However it’s far from my apartment, so we had to go by bus. As we walked to the bus station, I warned her that from time to time I run into some of my students, and if that happened today it could become sort of embarrassing. She laughed and said if we did, she’d do her best.
Poor girl just had no idea.
Upon approaching the station, I saw what I believed to be two sannensei girls sitting near the bus terminal. Deciding it best to lay low, I stopped well before the terminal, and took a seat to wait for the bus. The two girls eventually did notice me and my companion, and waved, but that was the extent of it. I figured we would probably be riding the same bus, but these two girls are pretty reserved. So while I’d have a firestorm of rumors to deal with at school, at least my date would be spared from potential harassment. The bus came, and we boarded, me leading my date towards the back. The two girls also got on, but stayed near the front. For a moment, I almost, very nearly believed I’d get off easy this time.
Before the bus pulled away, a gang of girls, mostly sannensei but with some ninensei and ichinensei thrown in for good measure, boarded the bus. And not just any girls either. The gossip queens. The girls you talk to if you want EVERYONE to know something, because it would be faster than grabbing a megaphone and doing it yourself. It took them approximately 0.000639 seconds to spot me, and *gasp* a girl! From there the shit was on.
They rushed over to where we were sitting. “Is this your new honey?” one of them asked, actually saying “honey” in English. Uh…well…. Yuki also came over. “Wow, she’s a pretty girl! You’re pretty cute, aren’t you?” My date slid down in her seat a bit and pulled her hat over her head. “C’mon, show us your face!” Yuki asked. “Nuh-uh” was my date’s response as she shook her head. “Ah, it’s a little embarrassing, isn’t it?” Yuki admitted, but she didn’t actually stop.
Meanwhile, there were two girls sitting outside who hadn’t boarded this bus. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught one girl lean out the bus door, and say something to the effect of “Hey! Az-sensei’s on this bus! With a girl!” to them. The two girls then got up and walked over towards the window to get a good look. My date slid down in her chair even further.
The bus finally got started (yes, all this time it had just been SITTING there). I bet the driver could see what was going on, and decided to stall for as long as possible to give the girls maximum dirt-digging time. Yuki asked what we were going to do today. Well, that’s not too bad of a question, right? I told her we were going for a walk in the park. “Ah, that’s nice!” Yuki said, “And what did you do last night?”
Uh… that’s not a question I’m gonna answer to a 15-year-old schoolgirl. I’m already going to hell, but I’d like to at least keep the handbasket. From here, I figured it would be best to deflect questions away from me, so I asked the girls if they had any boyfriends. Most of them just kind of giggled and shook their heads, but I could tell it was a “we must lie to teacher so he doesn’t scold us!” kind of thing.
Once I was in the park and I happened to spot two of my students there on a date. As soon as they realized I was there too, they started hiding behind things, making progress through the park by darting from tree to tree. I could have been evil and stopped, and said loudly “Hey! Hey, it’s you guys! Oh, is that a date! Awwwwwww how cute!” but I know how hard dating is at the grade school level (and it doesn’t get any easier). So I decided to pretend I didn’t notice them. I did snap a nice picture with my camera phone though. If either of them starts getting out of line, I’ve got blackmail material.
Back on the bus, Yuki admitted to having a boyfriend. But she said things weren’t going well. I asked her why not, and she said because of the age difference – he’s older than she is. Now, I’ve lived in Japan for way too long. And I’ve seen the shadiness with my own eyes, young high school girls with an old-ass businessman on one arm and an expensive Louis Vitton bag hanging off the other. So when Yuki said he’s older, I immediately panicked and despaired. I didn’t see any expensive bags hanging off her arm, but she was in her school clothes. Maybe she didn’t use the bag with her school clothes. Maybe her sugar daddy pimp hadn’t bought it for her yet. Maybe she was still working on it, like he had this sexual favors stamp card, and once she got 7 stamps then she’d get the bag. No, Yuki, no! Why? Noooooooooooooooooooo!
I asked Yuki how old he was. Sixteen, she said. Whew! OH THANK GOD! Yuki noticed the relief on my face, and asked why. “Oh, nothing. Nothing at all. Heh heh heh… ehhhh…”
I pointed out that 16 wasn’t that much of an age difference. Yuki said that he’s a high school student, and their worlds are very different so that’s why it’s not going so well now. Oh, I can understand that at least.
The deflection tactic worked for a little while…but then the heat was back on. “C’mon, show us your face! Please!” Yuki pleaded. My date continued to hide under her hat. Yuki turned to me, “Bring us pictures next time you come to school!” Yeah, sure, I said, just to appease the masses, and then I felt a kick in my shin. I turned to look, and my date was still in the same position, halfway in her chair, halfway on the floor. It must have been one of those space-warping kicks, like when Ms. Americanized smacked the boy who asked her if she was still a virgin. I wondered if I could learn how to do that, or if it’s a trait unique only to Japanese women.
“Ah, that’s nice!” Yuki said. “Good for you, Az-sensei. You always bring the cutest girls back here.”
Another dimensional-warping kick to the shin. C’mon! I don’t bring that many girls back here! Unfortunately. But I was glad to see I had my students’ approval if I did.
Our bus stop FINALLY came. I excused myself and my date, with the girls still trying to get one last look at her face. “When you guys get married, please invite us to the wedding!” Yuki called out.
SLOW THE FUCK DOWN! MARRIED?! THIS IS ONLY DATE NUMBER TWO.
Note to all you potential male Japanophiles out there – marriage is a big deal to a lot of Japanese women, and as such a lot of them tend to move kinda fast. I mean breakneck speed, GO SPEED RACER GO!! fast. Be careful.
We got off the bus, and my students had all rushed to a window so they can try to get one last look at her. With the kids now long gone, my date pulled her hat up from across her face. “Sorry about that,” I apologized, “My kids are kind of… well… spirited.” She laughed it off. “It was difficult, but it’s okay. Your students seem very energetic. I’m sure you must have a few interesting experiences with them.”
She has no idea.