I met May one day when I'd just finished teaching a grammar lesson, I was
having serious video-game withdrawals as I hadn't had been down a game centre
for weeks, so I was really looking forward to going out after the lesson and getting down the video-arcade, however, just as I'd finished teaching a bunch of Japanese came
into the room
with some gaijin blokes behind them, and I suddenly remembered that actually that night it
was English Conversation Club - where people just sit around talking
in English and getting loaded on cheap wine. Honestly I sometimes can't believe the shit they'll pay you to do in Japan, but anyway it was a good laugh although frankly speaking I reckon a lot of ladies who turned up for Conversation club weren't so much interested in the conversation being taught but the person who was teaching it. After a long day like the one I'd had though, all I wanted to do was get out and have some fresh air, sit in a bar. I passed by some of the people coming into the Conversation class and walked over to the lift, but just as I was about to make my exit, I heard my boss screeching.
"Kris, I know a Chinese girl who wants to meet you. She's just come back from studying abroad in England and says she'd like to meet some British. She's in the Conversation class now."
I was thinking, "Well tell her to sod off and come back another day..", and was just about to tell my boss that I couldn't
be bothered tonight, when she interrupted me and said with a sardonic smile and the magic words, "She's
very pretty actually.." Screw the video games I thought as
I went back into the room. The person I took a seat next to was one of the best-looking chicks
I've ever seen.
Now, with no offence intended to the Chinese in general, let's face it, they're not a particularly good-looking race, I mean, most Chinese chicks are called Wong and look exactly like their best-mate Wong. They wear thick ink-framed glasses, they spend their life in the library studying, and they speak in a language that makes a catfight sound pleasing to the ears. And without long hair you probably wouldn't even be able to tell they're female they look so much like Chinese dudes. Ring any bells? But May here, she really broke the mould, POW! Batman! tall, slim built, with a thick black, luscious mane that matched her nocturnal eyes and face - and man, did she ever have a lovely face with that smooth complexion, high cheekbones, and exotic mouth that made my imagination go wild with grey-glossed lips. Forget cute, the adjective that often matches the looks of Japanese girls, Mae was beautiful, understatedly beautiful.
I introduced myself, but she somehow knew my name already.
"You're Kris, I know, your boss told me all about you. It's nice to meet you."
So we shook hands and started talking, well, I say talking, but it was flirting.
We both liked each other a lot, and I think it must've been obvious to the others around us who we were all but ignoring. May was an interesting one,
I mean, very typical Chinese in that sort of not much smiles, serious-faced way,
but I know that's just often how those people talk over there, although some other
foreigners take it as a kind of arrogance, toughness. I kind of saw it as a challenge.
She told me about how she'd been in Japan for 5 years studying, but for the past few months she'd been in London on an intensive English course. Although her English was broken, her pronunciation seemed fine and she had a kind of sexy posh English accent that reeked of class.
Anyway, we got on like a house on fire, and after the class I invited her and the others to go for a drink, so off we all went, with most of us already more than a little pissed from the cheap wine we'd imbibed. The alcohol had taken the hard edge out of May, and she seemed relaxed as we chatted cosily until we reached the 350 Yen bar in Susukino. Somehow we'd gotten lost along the way however, and the rest of the pack had disappeared off ahead thinking we were following them. I said it was okay and that I knew where the 350 Yen bar was, but being a cunning bastard and wanting to get her alone, I secretly planned to take her to another 350 Yen bar I knew of that was close by. My plan worked and when I acted stupid and told May I'd taken her to the wrong place and played the dipshit card by pretending I had no idea where the 'real' 350 Bar was she didn't really seem bothered and happily took me up on my offer to have a drink alone together. We sat in an intimate corner of the room and as the night grew older we became more and more drunk, having a good time on the karaoke machine, well, Mae was a bit too classy to sing and didn't make much of an effort but I still had fun and surely must've impressed her with my singing voice as she didn't seem bored once during the whole night. We had a great time, me and the beautiful angel who wore summer-flower perfume.
As the night came to an end, we arranged to meet up again. And after that, again, and again. Pretty soon we were inseparable, and it seemed like I was meeting May for a drink every night of the week. Far from being boring, it seemed as though we always had something to do, and I guess she enjoyed being with a young suntanned stud like moi, and I definitely loved being with an older, more enigmatic woman that was a refreshing change from months of J-girls who do nothing but pamper you until you get bored to death of it. Being with Mae seemed a lot more real, we had arguments over where to go out, and conversations that ran beyond what part of Japan has the best katsudon, we talked about what we wanted to do in the future and how many kids we'd like to have. One day she'd be impossible as hell, and the next day she'd be wildly happy and apologise, giving me something expensive I hadn't even asked for, which just made me feel guilty for hating her after she left the previous night..It was confusing, she could say heartless, cold things, and then greet me with a passionate kiss the next day. Just like being in love! Somehow, I'd unintentionally acquired a serious girlfriend.
Mae seemed to care about people around her, but I know that she used them as well to a certain extent. I guess I always felt secure that I was on the safe side of her intentions, but one of my fears was that one-day she'd turn on me. She used her good looks to get things off of people, men usually, but also chicks that were envious of her. I always felt like I was different though, like I could read her like a book, and that she needed me. Even though she was real cow sometimes, she had me hooked - I'd even introduced her to the other at Happy House. Those guys had seen girls come in and out of my bedroom as if I was the only cock in Sapporo, so I only bothered introducing my fellow gaijin to the ones that really meant something to me. And May was the most special girl I'd met in Japan.
One day we were sitting eating Ramen in some smoky, back-alley in Susukino, and talking the usual tit-for-tat when the conversation turned to women I'd been out with. She knew I'd been popular with women since arriving in Japan, I mean, as long as you're reasonably handsome you'll go down like dynamite over there, and I didn't keep secrets about the girls I dated with May. Normally she'd find it funny and interesting, much to my amusement. She knew she was special to me, and it was great, I could be totally upfront with her and not hide anything. She asked me if I was interested in married women, and I said I wouldn't do it because breaking up marriages wasn't my scene. Some kind of six sense went off and I had the impression it was a triggered question due to the small pause she gave after I answered. But nothing was said, and she simply changed the subject.
A couple of days later we were down at a place called Club Mirror as it was closing, and as the humidity was nice and we both felt full of energy, we started to walk home instead of catching a cab. I've gotta admit I was as pissed as a train-relay switch guy by now and I was speaking through slurred speech.
"Look May..You know I'd tell you anything wouldn't I? I mean, if I
was a secret transvestite, you'd be the first to know about it? Right?"
"Oh yeah..we must try that sometime, you wearing my under-pants?", she had this cute girlish laugh that just didn't match her age and looks, but it warmed my heart with it's innocence when I heard it,
"Nonono...haha..I mean..aaa, you were talking the other day about if I'd go out with a married girl.."
"Yeah?" She said slowly.
"Well..you know, actually, it depends..I mean, if it was a love marriage or not.."
You could say a change came over her after that, and she said she wanted to sit down, so we saw some kind of kiddieís playground and made our way over to it. We sat in two plastic chairs opposite each-other, her feet playing with mine, and there was a strange blue shadow from the twilight moon. It was romantic. I can still remember her face and the ultramarine it shone with the light on it. She'd been tired from walking and drinking, and suddenly started laughing as she finally understood a joke I'd told her about a half an hour before. She relaxed a little but was still chuckling when she said it.
"You know I'm married, right?"
Of course I did.
"Yeah, I kind of guessed." I said,
"Well, like you said..it's not any kind of love marriage. You know, I'm Chinese, he's Japanese, and when I came to Japan I wanted to study for longer here, I didn't want to go back to China. If I go back to China it's impossible for me to find a job. So, a friend of mine, this friend, said that he would marry me..I thought it was kind of a joke!, so I didn't take it so serious at that time. You know, we move in together to an apartment, but it's kind of like we sharing, and he is a - a sa-ra-ri man?"
"Salary man..same word in English."
"Yes..I don't know if he loves me actually, I mean..we do do it sometimes, but it's just kind of loneliness thing. I don't cook for him or anything. He knows I'm going to England and I'll return to China after that. Then our marriage will end."
She continued to tell me about how she and her husband had led two separate lives, he had the token wife, a necessity in the Japanese company in order to proceed to higher-paid positions, and she had her indispensable Japanese visa. He looked after her financially, and she studied while she kept the house in order and threw a bang in there occasionally. I said a lot of marriages actually are like that, but she sniggered and told me it wasn't the kind of life she wanted for herself, and made it clear to her husband at every opportunity that she was off as soon as the wind reached her sails.
So how did you feel about it Kris? I hear you ask. Well, to be quite honest, I could've just split there and then, and for a whole ten seconds I was confused, but in the end I came to one conclusion, I really just didn't give a shit. Seemed to me like I was only filling the vacancy in an already very empty marriage, and I had no doubts her better half was probably out humping a few concubines on those late nights left to his own devices. So I decided to continue the relationship with May. I wasn't sure where it would lead me, to love or strife, but I was just thinking in the present tense. I dropped May off at her house, kissed her on the cheek, and made arrangements for our next date. That night I didn't lose a minutes sleep.
Well the months flew past, and it was August, getting close to the time when I was going to have to return to England. I'd signed up for University in September, and my money was running low. My visa was running out, I didn't have a degree, and I couldn't speak Japanese, so the chances of me finding any proper jobs were slim to none so I figured it was time to cash in my chips and head back to the UK and face real life until I had a chance to head back to Japan. I had no options. So, with all the stress from going back to the country I hated, I was getting moody which was pretty unusual for me since I'm usually such a lively bastard. I mean, there I was, basking in sunny paradise, surrounded by babes and all I could think about was the prospect that I'd be going back to foggy weather, ugly girls, fish+chips, look-me-the-wrong-way-and-I'll-head butt-you England. This was bad, real bad. I couldn't sleep at night, and May certainly wasn't a shoulder to cry on, it just wasn't in her character to be motherly like that.
One night we had a nasty argument. Usually May was easy-going, but that night in particular she'd been in a strop all day, and I really didn't feel
like putting up with her shit anymore. I donít know, I swear to God sometimes women think that guys are just made on the Earth to
put up with their shit without barking back, but my pop was forced through that treading- on-egg-shells crap for years before he finally got up and left, and I just get sick of it real quick no matter what time of the month.
So as we walked along some bridge at midnight, I was fuming with her. I'd tried to be a little more emotional and explain some of my growing feelings towards her , but she'd just put it down to just claimed that I was having a hormonal stage brought on by the fact she was a good shag, but actually I was just using her, and the 'touchy-feely' stage I was going through would pass. God!! Infuriating woman! What can I say? I suppose maybe what she said was 20% true, but it hurt when she said it like that . In fact it downright pissed me off. Of course I'd used her in the beginning. I was still reeling from my break up with the girl I came to Japan for. But deep down, I still felt there was something developing with May. The thought of losing her hurt. I shook my head in anger, and as we approached the end of the bridge So when we'd reached the end of the bridge I just said "Screw you" and walked off in a huff to the path under the bridge and left her to walk home by herself. I kneeled and watched the stream as it flowed on by, the lambent Sapporo skyline reflection floating with it in a million colours, wishing that she'd come down and just apologise or something, just fucking acknowledge that I was in pain and I needed her, but she didn't bother, and she'd already left. That was it, I thought, I didn't want to see her anymore, I had two weeks left in Japan, and screw it, I was gonna find a chick that didn't give me such a head-ache , screw May and all her mind crap, her little games that never ended. I didn't want it, it wasn't fun anymore. She could go find herself another plaything. I could see her in my minds eye smiling to herself at the one-up she'd got on me by making me visibly angry. She knew what she'd said would make me angry, but that was May, the antagonistic, complex human being I believed I'd fallen for. I believed deep down she needed me. But this time it was her turn to make the next move. She had two weeks to do it in, and I prayed that she would do it, because my dignity wouldn't have allowed me to ask for her back that time.
I've got to say, actually, waking up the next morning with the fan spinning at a leisurely rate and the poster on my wall flapping in a soft breeze, I felt somehow purified. Some delicious yakitori sticks I'd prepared were waiting in the fridge ready to be eaten, and I had the whole day to do whatever I wished. Having May off my back didn't seem so bad after all, but doesn't the world seem perfect when the sun is shining anyway. I knew a week later I'd be getting May withdrawals, but I'd meet that demon when the time came. For now I was quite happy just to chill out, teach English lessons at rip-off prices, and hang with the other foreigners I lived with. I'd talked to some of them about the situation to see what they made of it, and one old Aussie buddy commented: "Ahh gedover it mate, bloody women eh? jest fugget her 'n think with yer John for the next two weeks and you'll be 'right eh? going back soon ain't ya? You think too much mate, that's yer problem. Besides, sometimes it takes a little more than looks don't ya reckon? Per-sown-al-ity mate..look at ol' John from down the corridors bit of tit, face like a smacked ass but he's happy don't ya reckon??"
During the week after the break-up I'd been meeting a lot of girls around Odori Koen, one of the main parks in Sapporo. The weather was good, and the females were out in their droves. Ah man, great weather, easy job, it reminded me of fond times being on the dole (welfare to you Yanks), something I'd experienced a lot during my less fruitful teenage years. People look down on those who suck off the government, but damn it, it's hard to will yourself not to work, it takes a special kind of talent to stay in bed all day and be totally uncreative. And it takes a lot of brainpower and restraint not to laugh and come up with a quick enough fake reply for your 'Personal Advisors' down the dole office when they try to fix you job through their databases. Some of the excuses I delivered as to why-I-can't-do-this-job and why-I-can't-do-that-job were masterpieces of inventiveness, no other word for it. They should've given me dole without hassle just for my originality.
"Gardener sir?", "Damaged my back during P.E. when I was a kid. Can produce a note for you but you'd have to trace my previous doctor as I used to live in Scotland."
"Waiter?", "I have a lousy disposition towards impatient people that has cause me to be violent in the past. I'm interested though."
"Factory worker?","The chemicals they use make my mucus glands react, I nearly chocked to death once on my own phlegm working a Naan Bread conveyor belt."
I did some of my magnificent philosophising whilst being on the dole, and I credit months of hanging down the beach with nothing better to do than drink a can of cheap, piss tasting cider to the fact that I am wise for my years. Wise enough to bullshit girls that I was a stand-up member of society anyway.
"What do you do for a living Kris?"
"Err..it's public sector related."
"Well what exactly?"
"You can't really classify my occupation. It's fundamentally lot of paperwork and chitchat. I'm generally left to my own devices as long as I report to HQ say, once every other week just to let them know how I'm doing. "
"Wow, sounds exciting, get to travel at all?"
"Well, I am sent to some rather bizarre and unusual destinations. But really I've never stayed in any one for a notable length of time."
"Sounds quite high-profile!"
"Yes, the Prime Minister himself often gives suggestions as to how the industry can be improved and refined. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the work only hardened professionals are able to stick around for longer than 10 years or so. You could say there's a lot of failure in this enterprise indeed."
Sorry about the diversion. Back to the story. I was hanging around with some Aussie guy I'd met who was a top bloke to knock about with if you wanted to meet girls. He wasn't good-looking in any way, no, he was one of the ugliest buggers in Sapporo, but he was so bloody confident and out-going that he'd just go up to any girl he fancied or didn't fancy, with no idea of what to say, and just start chatting to them. Imagine Crocodile Dundee crossed with Danny Devito, and you've got my pal here. He was a beast and about as cool as Vanilla Ice, but at least he had balls enough to initialise a conversation, and even though the girls ignored him you could always vulture in and get all the attention from them once they'd gotten over their initial repulsion. I know, I know, it's a slimy tactic and I'll probably die and come back as a midget, but this guy had 1 inch hairs growing out of his nose and was a 5ft 3 bloke trying to chat up gorgeous girls that would've only legged in the minute he let down his guard, and I wasn't going to let that go to waste. Besides, he did get the ugly ones occasionally.
The Aussie had introduced me to some girl he knew from the park who spoke pretty good English, and
although she wasn't really beautiful she had..a something..a quality. Occasionally you'll get a chick like that..they don't have such a beautiful face, they don't wear the right
perfume, tits and ass in the wrong places and all that, but they've got huge, kind eyes, or they
have a sexy laugh, or pearly smooth skin. Well, this girl had some kind of quality, and was easy
to talk to which was really what I needed after Mays constant attempts to
throw any serious conversation we had to the winds all the time. This girl was just fun.
we laughed, we partied, we screwed, yeah..just like it should be sometimes,
no strings attached, no problems..
Sadly after a few days I did start to miss May a little. She was special to me, she made me think. You think you know your own heart until it's broken. You think you know your own mind until you can't stop thinking about someone. But heart and mind plays some weird shit on you sometimes..