After a week of dancing with the elderly, the staff at the welfare center took me and my friend out to a drinking party.
The work drinking party is a bit of a custom in Japan. They spend a great deal of their lives enslaved by their work, so the drinking party is a chance to get wasted and let it all out. Although it is a bit counter-productive to go out drinking with the same people you work with, as Ms. Americanized pointed out to me once. We were on our way to the end of the year party for the Ghetto School, and as I was saying how nice it was to finally be on vacation, Ms. Americanized corrected me – “This isn’t a vacation yet. Not as long as I’m with those people.” She said those people with all the conviction as if they had robbed her house, thrown her family dog in a river, and then organized a successful letter-writing campaign to get South Park removed from all Japanese video stores.
Anyway, to thank us for our hard work, the staff took us out to a drinking party. My friend and I agreed, figuring that we could eat and drink to our hearts consent and they would pick up the bill for it aftewards. Don’t think us cheapskates – we worked hard during that week, especially me in all my Golden Matsuken Glory (or shame).
Little did we know though, we’d end up paying for the night in other ways.
I actually arrived a bit late, as I had a job interview beforehand. As I got there, most everybody had finished eating. I sat down with a menu, and all of the welfare center staff were in agreement for their recommendation – the cheese fondue. For those unfamiliar with the cheese fondue, it’s basically just a pot of melted cheese into which you dip bread or vegetables in. The staff recommended it heavily, which I found out later was just an excuse so they could eat more of it.
The cheese fondue was indeed delicious. However, it is melted cheese – this is about as healthy as pouring a case of Velveeta right down your throat. My friend, who is a bit of a health nut (and being Australian, he eats vegemite for pleasure), enjoyed the fondue but with a bit of guilt and self-loathing, much like many women do with the Rocky Road ice cream in front of the Lifetime channel, late at night. “I know I shouldn’t…but I just got dumped, so…” To assuage my guilt, I simply tapped into my American heritage, and downed the cheese covered veggies and bread like Peg Bundy knocking back Bon Bons while watching Oprah.
However, with all the veggies gone and still plenty of melted gooey cheese left, the staff decides to dip other things into the fondue. “Hey, how about this fried chicken?” one guy says, dipping the chicken into the pot. “Wow, this is great!” Inspired, another guy takes a fried fish stick, cheeseifies it, and takes a hearty bite.
My friend meanwhile, has four simultanous heart attacks from just watching this.
Friend: Dude, that’s already been fried in so much grease, and THEN to dip it in melted cheese…
Me: If it makes you feel any better, Japanese people have one of the longest life-expectancies on Earth.
Friend: And how the FUCK does that work? I mean, they’re all so worked up over dipping fried foods in cheese fondue.
Me: And let’s not forget the constant stress levels, the chain smoking, the heavy drinking…
Friend: I just don’t get it. Say, aren’t you keeping track of these Unsolved Japanese Mysteries?
Me: Honestly? I’ve lost count. Forgive me Robert Stack/Ultra Magnus, for I have failed you.
Meanwhile, one of the staff guys goes to dip some steak strips into the cheese fondue. Noticing this, I say to him, “Man, wouldn’t it be great if we could then deep-fry the cheese-dipped steak?” The staff guy lights up at this idea, and I think my friend actually turned a brilliant shade of forest green.
Matsuken Samba Revenge: Mission Complete.
At my position at the table, I was sitting in between two mature Japanese women. The one to my right seemed to be in her mid-40’s, and was still kinda cute. Emphasis on “kinda”. Like, if you see a beat-up ’67 Mustang, that’s rusted and the paint is peeling, and it wouldn’t start even if you kicked it, but you know back in the day it was a hell of a car. I can’t tell you anything about the one to my left, because she had the makeup pound on. Even with the makeup, I’d say she was early 50’s.
I know that in recent years, older women have been reclaiming their sexuality. You can see it on TV with shows like Desperate Housewives and Sex in the City. I think there’s nothing wrong with that, in fact I support it – I have a thing for older women myself. That having been said, I dunno, maybe it’s just me, but I would not expect a couple of soccer moms to start getting into a graphic/raunchy conversation right there at the dinner table. Especially not with a man old enough to be their son sitting between them. I wouldn’t expect it in America, and before coming, I certainly wouldn’t have expected it in Japan.
Silly me. When will I ever learn.
You know, I think I’m just going to step back and let the whole thing speak for itself. Do please keep in mind though that I’m sitting in the middle of these two ladies. I shall label the one on my right as Woman 1, with the makeup clown getting to be Woman 2. Woman 1 was married, but apparently has been divorced for 11 years.
Woman 1: (calling the waitress over) Yes, I’d like to order #49.
Woman 2: (giggling uncontrollably)
Woman 1: …What?
Woman 2: …You said “49”.
Woman 1: (thinks about it for a moment) …No silly, you’re thinking of “69”.
Woman 2: 69? Really? It’s not 49?
Woman 1: No. Look. (points to “69” on the menu) If you think of the round part as a head, then see how that works?
Woman 2: …Ah! I get it now. I was wondering why they called it by that number, but I guess 49 was all wrong.
Woman 1: Haven’t you ever done 69 before?
Woman 2: Well, honestly… Hey, what about you? Have you ever done 69?
Woman 1: What are you saying? I was married!
Woman 2: What kind of answer is that? Being married doesn’t necessarily mean you did 69.
Woman 1: Well then, what do you think?
Woman 2: (shyly) I think you did.
Woman 1: And you’re right.
Woman 2: Ok, then what about after marriage? Any 69?
Woman 1: No. No 69, no 49, no anything.
Woman 2: Oh, that’s too bad.
Woman 1: (wistfully) Yes. 11 long years…
Meanwhile, I’m desperately trying to scrub my brain of the image of either of these women engaged in hot clumsy 69. I would also wonder how me doing a benefit program for the elderly would lead to me being sandwiched between two women and their oral sex conversation, but I think we all know the answer to that one.
Meanwhile still, my friend just gives me one of those looks. It’s a look I thought really only existed in TV Land. Like, Steve Urkel bursts into the living room to show off his new invention, and in the process completely shatters the precious, irreplaceable family vase that Carl just got out of storage. And the whole family is about to be pissed off, but then Urkel shrugs and says “Did I do that?” and everyone gives him this “Only you, Steve Urkel, only you” look. That look! That look precisely. All we need is some theme music and canned laughter, and my life will effectively be a sitcom.
Woman 2, however, is far from done.
Near the end of the night, Woman 2 is just absolutely wasted. At one point, the staff guys noticed how fit my friend was (he eats well and practices karate), and lifted up his shirt to check out his abs. Upon being shamed/humbled, the staff guys also lifted up their shirts to compare. As I still have a little Pilsbury Doughboy action going on, I respectfully declined. But, Woman 2 next to me is desperately trying to flag someone’s attention so she can lift up her shirt to them. I begin thinking about Japanese public decency laws, and if I called the police would they really believe me.
A little later, everyone is talking about something, and Woman 2 says something having to do with “her daughter”. This gives the welfare staff pause – “Waitasec, you have a daughter?” Woman 1 asks. “Sure I do,” Woman 2 continues. “The unfertilized egg inside of me, just waiting for somebody’s seed to come along and fertilize her.”
My brain was still trying to wrap itself around that when my friend gave me another TV Land look and cut my thinking time short –
Friend: …Did she just say that she wanted some guy to come and knock her up?
Me: (barely containing laughter) Yep, that what it sounded like.
Friend: Oh Dear Lord. Az, just…just kill me now.
Me: Sure, we can arrange that. (calling for the waitress) Miss? More cheese fondue, please.
Remember my first editorial, way back when, “My Kids are Perverted”? Turns out, 30/40/50 years later, not a damn thing changes.