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Ibaraki English Teacher: Chapter 8

Author:Joseph Robbie, Issue: May 2001, Topic: Commentary

Randy Rogers slept late, but woke up still sleepy. It was 1pm and his room was an oven. Opening the window didn't help as even hotter air from outside rushed in. Aircon nai. He had to get out, but first poop, shower and shave. The Tokyo gaijin hostel provided communal toilets, showers and sinks, with different slippers required for each. Randy walked into the men's shower room with his toilet slippers on and was immediately reprimanded by a stout, muscular Aussie just toweling off. "Dame des!!! You must be new here, eh? It takes some getting used to; some never do. My name's Peter, mate. Who are you?"

So, the men chatted a bit. Peter had been in Tokyo for seven months teaching English. Yet, as he had studied Japanese back in Melbourne and had worked briefly for several international corporations there, he was looking for a recruiting job. Becoming a headhunter was one alternative to teaching English here, and much more lucrative.

Randy explained that he was job hunting. Since it was Sunday, Peter recommended postponing the search for the morrow, Mondays being when most "help wanted" ads could be found in the Japan Times. "Get out. Go look around. Enjoy yourself today. You should check out Roppongi tonight. It's a hot nightlife district with many gaijin."

Randy thanked him for the advice. Changing into shorts, sandals, and a lewd t-shirt, the rascal reconnoitered the neighborhood. In thirty minutes of rambling about the center of the city, he saw only two other westerners, and they strode by without greeting, nod, or acknowledgement. Suddenly he felt a rumbling. Earthquake? No. It was only his stomach. Time to eat.

Finally finding anew the coffee shop from yesterday, Randy entered and was elated to espy the foxy Mariko behind the register. She couldn't help but giggle when she noticed the shirt. "Hello Randy. This is for you." Mariko handed him an envelope containing five 100-yen coins. "In Japan, there is no tipping, - hee, hee, hee."

"That's a very nice welcome, Mariko. Thank you." He ordered coffee and two crepes. Going back for a java refill, he was shocked to have to pay again. The no tipping made up for that he figured, and the coffee was flavorful and robust, much better than that in Ohio. He asked about Roppongi, and Mariko giggled, then suggested the Motown Club. Finishing his meal, Randy gave the friendly cashier a deep and meaningful, yet gently inquiring look as the bill was settled. She returned his gaze with an 'adults only' one of her own. The sparks flew; the tinder ignited.

Stopping by the Villa Paradiso to map, nap and change, Randy began to scheme. He often relied on angles, chumps, opportunities, and cheating to get an edge. Now, he had to get firmly established here in Japan. He could do it the hard way, or he could do it the Randy way. The gears began to turn.

Freshened up and all decked out (for him), Randy headed for the subway station an hour after dusk. As he stood before the ticket machines looking confused, a kind businessman offered aid. Describing the route and displaying the method of ticket purchase and use, the stranger spent a full ten minutes orienting the cad, who thanked him politely, but insincerely.

Aboard the train, he scored a seat between a proper matron and a dozing hostess. As the transportation swayed along from stop to stop, the sleepy hostess' head rested itself upon Randy's shoulder, dropping gradually ever more, from his shoulder, to his chest and then onto his lap. Randy didn't know how to react. This was a first. On the one hand, it was kind of nice; on the other, with people watching, it was kind of embarrassing. The dilemma consisted of choices, as they often do. Should he awaken her and break the spell; or let her dream on despite the stares? Then she began to snore. The commuters slightly sniggered. Randy patted her softly on the back. She awoke with a start, then blushed, apologized, and exited at Shinjuku.

Randy rode the rail a few more stations then, transferred to the Hibiya line for Roppongi. Once there, he climbed the stairs to street level. Wow! This district was indeed action central. It was hopping. The crowds included many foreigners. He spied the Almond Coffee Shop across the crossing and opted to eat. Fortunate, as the wicked often are, to be assigned a window seat, Randy smoked a Mild Seven while watching the world go by. The pasta was passable and the Aussie red wine delectable. At a neighboring table sat an animated group of American GI's chatting at much higher volume than the other customers. Randy tapped the nearest one on the back.

"Hi. How ya doin'? Do you know where the Motown Bar is?" "Sure. We're going there ourselves after these beers. Why don't you join us?"

So, he did. The four young soldiers were stationed near Yokohama and had been in country for a year. Fresh faced and with close cropped hair, these defenders of democracy and capitalism exuded an aura of manly strength and naive innocence. Bottoms up, and they were out of there.

The avenues were awash with revelers. Bars, cafes, discos, and restaurants abounded. Neon dominated. The grunts pushed their way down this street and that until they stood under the bright Motown sign. Inside, it was long and it was packed, with a nice fifty-fifty mix of slant and round eyes, with all genders equally represented. The Supremes were wailing from the speakers, but there was no room to dance.

Randy discretely separated himself from his military escort, their purpose having been served. As he wound his way toward the tender to order a drink, he thought he heard someone call out his name. He then turned to find himself face to face with the comely Mariko, who smiled, and then giggled, covering her mouth with a shapely hand crowned by exquisite nail art. (To be continued)

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