This weekend provided enough points of interest to allow my free rambling mode. Nam’s older sister, Nok arrived at 7AM on Saturday morning. So we woke up at 4:00 and drove down to the car ferry in the neighboring city of Awaji-shi (until last year: Tsuna-cho) to catch the 5:30 boat. As ferry rides go, it was pretty unremarkable. I took a couple shots of the sun rising over the ocean, then I fell asleep on the carpet of the break room and apparently snored everybody from one side of the boat to the other. The one funny thing that happened was when I was taking a crap.
Now normally I wouldn’t shitblog on a Monday, but this isn’t so much about kernels of corn or clogging the pipes so much as it is about unexpected company and release mechanisms. Partway through my bathroom experience, somebody entered the stall next to mine and started coaxing his shit out. The thing is, he started out all like, “uuuuuuuuungh,” and, “hrrrrrrraaafff,” and ended up yelling at it in a very much yakuza tone of voice. Yes, faithful readers, it is the very first time I have heard someone yelling at their own shit, in any language. “Hayo DERUNJYA KORA!” (Hurry up and come out!) It made me wonder if he was pulling heroin bags out of his ass. I finished my business and decided to vacate in a rapid manner, half-amused and yet permanently scarred by the experience, and just wanting to Get the Fuck Out. Horror of horrors, as I was washing my hands at the sink, the other guy finished and stood behind me waiting as I quickly splashed water on my face. I glanced at his relection in the mirror – bald head, black knit sweater with handpainted gold glitter design (my guess: $250 at a fake Versace shop?), man purse from hell – yep, this guy was at least High Wannabe level. When we got back into our cars belowdecks, the guy’s ride was a mid-90’s Gloria with blackout tint and Tokushima plates. Feh. (It’s all about Kobe plates, bioootch!)
The conversation I witnessed between a friend from France and an 18 year old girl from Hong Kong made me think the most this weekend. Mostly, it made me think what a fine line there is between Gallic honesty and assholism, but maybe you will see what I mean. So my pal Stef from Mimizan, who is about my age, is being asked about jobs available to foreigners in Japan by this young girl from Hong Kong. And Stef says, straight up, “You should be a prostitute. It’s the easiest way to make money in the shortest amount of time.” And I laughed my ass off and said That’s Fucked Up, just because I thought it was a particularly cold-blooded thing to say to an 18 year old. But then I thought about it some more. Sometimes I wonder if I just see the world differently than those around me, and whether that is a curse or a gift. But, yeah, in reality maybe it’s a good thing to get on the table at an early stage in life: Girls, you can all be whores. That option is always open if you need money quickly. If all else fails, go to France; they will understand your needs there.
Oh shit, I almost forgot to write about the dope-ass swag people gave me this weekend. As a wedding present, Stef brought back a set of white bathrobes made of thick cotton for me and Nam – and they have our names embroidered on them! In green! Cursive! Pimpalicious. Now all I need is a smoking jacket and a monocle, oh yeah, and a house with a study, and I will never leave home again. You can all come visit me and we’ll make a toast with snifters full of the vintage umeshu (plum wine/liquor) I scored from T’s aunts this weekend!
On Saturday night, I stayed over at T’s place and he mentioned that his aunts had recently found a jar of home-brewed umeshu from 1978. ZZZing! That got my attention. I made it known I was interested in trying some. So, around midnight, his aunt Yuki-chan came around the house and told me to help her bring out some jars from behind the old house. It was dark and I hit my head on a pipe, but it was worth it. In all, we rescued three ten-liter glass jars, one typically amber-colored lot from 2000, one reddish vintage from 1997, and one of unknown (but very old) vintage that had turned nearly black. Glasses were procured, and each lot was tasted carefully. The 2000 vintage was nearly indistinguishable from store bought umeshu. Good, but typical. The unknown vintage was so old it had started turning to vinegar – I’d like to try converting it into a plum vinaigrette dressing sometime. Now the middle lot – BINGO! – this stuff was goooooooood. T’s aunt, Tatan, told me this lot had turned a reddish color because she took out the plums a few years back (I do not know if the red umeshu sold in stores also turns colors naturally. I always assumed they added coloring.). And since we are moving to Thailand this year, she gave me the whole lot! I was so happy I nearly cried. This is the Good Stuff. It is not even what I would call top shelf, because I wouldn’t put it there. It is more precious than the Bookers bourbon; more meaningful than the Kubota sake which are the best bottles of booze I have at home. This stuff stays in a cool, dark place in the earthenware bottles to which we transferred it, to be sampled occasionally, and treasured forever. Let me be clear – this stuff is so good, it almost makes you wish you had never tasted it, for want of never being able to drink regular umeshu again.
The last thing about the weekend worth mentioning was my drive home yesterday. It was long. The weather was perfect for windows-down driving in a t-shirt. I drove directly into the setting sun for most of an hour, listening to Soundgarden as the asphault melted into long streaks of orange and gold before me. I crossed the Yodogawa, and thought about taking walks on it with my brother last year. It turned dark as I headed through Kobe and watched the lights dancing on the harbor out my left window. And I thought about how in six months time, this will all be a distant memory.