"working on my faults and cracks..."


Holy crap Matrimony

This, is the Japanese prime minister.

Or rather, was the Japanese prime minister, thanks to a series of embarrassing cockups within his party a few months back, but no matter. He is still the prime minister in the hearts and minds of Japanese people, because the "new" prime minister is an uninspiring dweeb.

Ok, so let's try this again:

This, is the Japanese prime minister.

So is this.
Lower left corner. Close enough for me to high-five--or backhand I suppose, not that I had any real reason to. I mean, I didn't vote for him. Why was he there? The groom's father's college buddy, apparently. Why was I there? Because I checked the groom's business papers, and drank his whiskey during senior finals week at The University of Findlay.

Yet another classic case of misinformed expectation in Japan.

From "Sake" Gakuen...

I arrived at the hotel, and was surprised to find the lavishly decorated banquet hall filled with television cameras, tuxedo-clad security, and elderly women in richly colored kimonos gingerly milling about. Already, I could sense I was in over my head. Something was grossly amiss. Granted, we were both rather drunk at the time, but according to the initial offer, it was just supposed to be a "friend's wedding reception." All the Findlay crew was to be invited, plus, the couple had long since since been married, and had even already hammered out a baby, so how fancy could it be? As per my usual "expectations be damned," really goddamn fancy (see also: really goddamn important and really goddamn expensive) was the last thing on my mind. Good thing I opted for a suit instead of a black Ramones t-shirt and drainpipe jeans, because I was about to make a spectacle.

Somewhere between reminiscing with the gang about shenanigans back at UF, and my third glass of champagne, someone let slip that as a group, we were soon to give speeches accompanying a photo slideshow to the bride and groom, during the dedication segment of the impeccably organized ceremony.
A speech. In Japanese.
Within high-fiving/slapping distance from the prime minister. Ok fine, former prime minister. You shut the hell up. It's my story.

Really convenient that this trivial detail had been left out of my invitation. My third glass quickly became my fourth as I grabbed a pen and started frantically scribbling on the tablecloth. Yuko handed me a piece of paper. This would probably work better.
Groups were already going up to give their slickly rehearsed songs and memorable anecdotes about the bride and groom. Someone refilled my drained champagne glass with beer. If anything, instead of being "the dope that froze up in front of everyone," perhaps I could just be the comic relief. That shameless drunk guy whose pants fell down right before the toast's witty punch line.
It was my only prayer.
It was also our turn. I looked at my fancy hybrid champagne/beer glass: emptied again. Good.
I looked at the paper:
Two poorly written hiragana sentences, and a soup stain.


We move to the front of the hall, and arrange ourselves in a line. I am placed sixth of eight. Yuko carefully starts her little speech, introducing the slideshow. I'm not really paying attention. I'm looking at the prime minister, 15 feet away. Unlike his wife, and most of the other guests, he doesn't appear to be drunk. This is very unfortunate.
My friend Sou stammers through his speech, sweating like a boner at communion. His nervous and incessant apologizing echoes through the quiet hall. I discretely step back in case he decides to puke on my just-pressed suit. The emcee gently takes the mic from him mid-sentence... sweet mercy kill...
...And hands it to me.


I start slowly, imperceptibly slurring my polite keigo forms. Something about being surprised upon hearing the groom's unnatural English ability in Findlay. The joke was supposed to be that he learned authoritative speech, casual English idioms, and one-liners from watching rented DVDs of Sex and the City. But the hall was laughing already. I wasn't even at the punch line. I look at the bride and groom. Confused laughter. I look to the prime minister. Also laughing. Towards his wife. Still drunk, and laughing. I look at my pants.
Safely secured around my waist.
What the hell? I bail. I don't know where the linguistic/cultural misstep was, nor do I care anymore. I am drunk. I am "zahtto gai." I ditch the polite forms and start babbling about Sex and the City, how Carrie is a whore, and how her superior writing skills gave the groom his questionable English ability. Ok, not the part about Carrie because I don't know how to say "whore" in Japanese. But anyway. The mic is finally pulled from my sweaty fingers. Sweet mercy kill. The audience happily applauds. Either they are glad to be spared, or I am their new hero. Inebriated daydreams are certain it was the latter.

But it mattered little, for I was drunk. And they were all sexy.
Even the former prime minister.

2 contributions to this piece:

Valerie said...

Ahh, alcohol, maker of men, beautifier of women, godfather of heroes.

And instigator of stories that make me ROFL.

Dagbert said...

...a fail-proof lubricant, perfect for dry and uncomfortable social encounters of any variety.

Thanks :)

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