Oct 30, 2006

"American boy is COWARD!"

I am pleased to say that after less than a week in Japan, I've already sampled one of this country's most famous and august cultural wonders- I speak, of course, of that subtle and inscrutable art that is known only as "karaoke."
Some of the coworkers invited me out to a Halloween outing this weekend, which was nice since I'd like to make some social connections, and because good 'ol Sam Hain is easily my favorite holiday. I met one of the coworkers at the train station, and we hopped on over to Kurashiki, Okayama's neighboring city which (apparently) has lots more cultural stuff than "Hilly Mountain" (i.e., "Okayama") does. After getting off the train, my coworker opened up her bag and proceeded to thrust a black Dracula style cape at me, "here," she said, "wear this. It's Halloween, after all." She, meanwhile, was applying angel wings and a halo.
"So," I asked, "do they have Halloween in Japan?"
"Not really."
"So we just look like a bunch of eccentric foreigners, then."
"Pretty much."
People seemed to get a kick out of the two nattily-attired gaijin walking down the street. I did my best to make my cape all billowy, with dubious success. We met two more of our party, a fellow company worker and his Japanese girlfriend, at a fairly nice restaurant, and were later joined by two of the Japanese girlfriend's accquaintances. One of them had this highly ambitious Stitch (of Lilo and) costume that was most impressive. The other company worker was dressed up as Ghost Face from the Scream movies, his girlfriend as a catgirl, and the other as a generic princess type.
We socialized for a while, I introduced myself, and after two beers Ghost Face asked me if I wanted to try some sake.
"I think I'm good," I said.
"Well, it's all you can drink," he said. "All you can drink" was a new one for me- like some sort of cirrosous-inducing buffet, this restaurant didn't have per drink prices. It was per head, and you could sling back as much booze as you wanted whist you were there.
"Ok," I said, "one more drink."
(You can probably see where this is going.)
I acquiesed to glass of sake, and thereafter declared myself done drinking. I should have kept my mouth shut, because that instigated a very rapid stream of Japanese from Ghost Face's girlfriend who then pointed at me and loudly proclaimed "American boy is COWARD! COWARD!" (this is from a tiny Japanese woman dressed as a catgirl, by the way) "You drink till you puke!"
"No," I said.
"Yes, you drink till you puke!" I made the mistake of looking to my coworkers for support, but instead they were simply laughing their asses off and ordering more sake. By the time we left the restaurant, I was more than a little buzzed, and we ambled our way down the street to-
A karaoke parlor. Where I decided that it was only right for me to belt out Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody at the top of my lungs. I mean, really, could it have been any other song? Bohemian Rhapsody is the sort of song that jauntily points its finger at you and commands "Sing me!" And of course, you obey. When it comes onto the radio, people everywhere belt out those "momma mias" and "galileo figaros" with a sort of collective unconciuos Jungian gusto only hinted at in Wayne's World.
And you know what? Karaoke is actually a blast. You get a room with your friends, you can order snacks and drinks and stuff, and you all sing your lungs out. I enjoyed myself on an entirely unironic level. Of course, I could also have been enjoying the catgirl-induced intoxication, but I imagine that karaoke would still be a lot of fun sober.
I managed to get home without a problem, which was nice. If I can drunkenly navigate a foreign country's train system and make it home in the middle of the night, I think I can do a lot in life. Or maybe I'm just on my way to becoming some sort of degenerate expat Bukowski wannabe. We'll see.
And I didn't puke. I sobered up at home and felt fine. Take that, catgirl!


Kristin said...

Ha ha!!! That's awesome. Glad you're having fun.

Brigitte said...

american boy is coward. did you show her all of your cat girl scars caused by my nails as a 7th grader?

Anonymous said...

does it make me a bad friend that I was laughing at you at the same time you said your friends were laughing?

what? Karaoke sober?? I've never heard of this phenomenon. It's more often that the karaoke joints have nomihodai (all you can drink) and even 'till the first train' prices.

this is not a story for the meek. or sober.

I'm glad you had a blast and sung. awesome.

Joseph said...

Hey,hey! Lookihere! A blog! One more way to waste away my time on the internet...

Glad to hear things are working out so swimmingly on those foreign shores. Keep up the good, drunken, karaoke-singing work.

Rip Tatermen said...

American boy play Domjot!
I'm terribly jealous of you and I want pictures. Pictures, I say!

Anonymous said...

Oh. My. Lord.