The Japanese do it, and you should trust their wisdom. If you follow #6: Avoid Gaijin (Gaijin bars, Gaijin friendly areas and the Japanese girls who dwell there) it can do wonders for your sanity. You would think in a country where the natives avoid you like the plague you might find solace among people who share your fate. Trust me, you won’t.
My reasons for taking such a drastic action have changed a number of times over the years. I mentioned before what I was like when I first came here. How I wanted to be the Kokujin Anjin-san. And so I wouldn’t sit and listen to foreigners bad mouth my new home. Well, clearly I was being a little facetious. Of course I hung out with Gaijin quite a bit in those early days. That’s how I learned that they are to be avoided…at all cost!!!
THIS IS NOT A TEST!!!
For one, I’ve found that when Gaijin get together there are three constants: Alcohol, anger-resentment-complaints, and misogyny (in the case of the men…don’t know many misogynistic women). Not that I hadn’t encountered any of the above before. Hell, America thrives on all three. But, I didn’t come here for more of the same. I actually wanted to escape from it a while. Especially complaining. Why? Because, of the Gaijin unholy trinity above, complaining is my favorite vice. Or, at least it used to be.
Everyone complained back in Brooklyn so your own complaints would more than likely get drowned out in the sea of complaints around you. To be heard you had to complain louder (which was not attractive at all) or raise yours to the level of art form (which was potentially attractive.) The idea was to be creative by finding a fresh angle on the complaint, something that made it compelling to listen to. Or, find the funny in it. Make it clever and witty and make people laugh so hard they almost forget you’re complaining.
I wouldn’t say I was an artist but among my friends I could hold my own.
Complaining, for me, was like a drug: euphoria-inducing and difficult to kick. I thought I might go cold turkey here in Japan. But, in the company of Gaijin, that is not possible. Accessibility is widespread. I’d have to truly lock myself in a room. I can get my complaint fix in any Gaijin bar or Gaijin friendly area in Tokyo or Yokohama, any time of the day or night; occasionally I breakdown, fall off the wagon (in person and on the web) and indulge myself. Sometimes I go just to listen to complaints, without participating… Like an ex-smoker sitting in the smoking section of a cafe, or an ex-carnivore turned vegan, dining at Peter Luger’s Steak House in Brooklyn, nursing a salad, salivating over someone’s sirloin…
But usually I avoid them.
And misogyny…fuhgetuhboutit. Many Gaijin here are out of control! The worst I’ve ever seen. Perhaps there’s something about Japan that can make man’s respect of women really tank. I’m still trying to put my finger on the reason why. The level of misogyny encountered here even puts the level I experienced back home to shame. Mind you, back home I lived in an environment where epithets like bitch and hoe get thrown around like confetti.
Personally I think it’s because foreigners get treated, in general, like shit by Japanese people. A certain level of resentment for the people and the culture develops, and these emotions need venting. Abusing Japanese women is one way to vent, and they’re such easy targets. So, I think it’s partially about revenge. However, this creates a cycle of resentment, distrust and fear that I really don’t see coming to an end in the near future. I’m a little pessimistic so I may be wrong on that tip. But trust me on this one: Avoid Gaijin.
Of course I’m not talking about all Gaijin…they know who they are!
One night back in my early days here I went to Gas Panic in Shibuya after work. It was still early so when I arrived there were just staff people and bouncers hanging around and a couple of customers sucking down Happy Hour drinks. One was black the other was white. They both looked cornfed and had low-cropped haircuts.
The black guy spots me and gives me a healthy welcome. YO! What up, man?”
His greeting made me feel a little homesick. Or rather it reminded me of the part of home I’d gotten sick of and thus it was not a deterrent in any way to my leaving it behind. Plus he had a country accent. Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, maybe. I couldn’t name that accent in 4 syllables but I knew I was in the right region. Country black folk have a tendency to make me cringe a little. Even if I listen to Nelly or Master P I feel it.
“Ain’t no girls here so might as well kick it with us!”
“What’s up, bro?” the white guy said. Bro? I cringed a little but let it go.
We shook hands, exchanged names (Jason and Jeff) I pulled up a stool and ordered a beer.
“Where you from, Loco!” Jason asked.
“That’s what’s up!” he said. “I’m from Houston. My boy Jeff here, he’s from San Antonio.” He smiled. I could tell he’d had a few already. Jeff too. Texas ain’t nothing to be smiling about. Texas used to conjure images of Ten-Gallon hats and Oil Wells. Now I think of James Byrd Jr. being bound and dragged around by white supremacist in a pick up truck. Unfair, I know, but it was the most gruesome lynching in my lifetime. Jason here was probably too young to appreciate it and Jeff looked like he could be the Pick up truck driver’s baby brother.
“You in the service,” he asked with a look on his face that said he doubted it.
“Nah,” I said and left it at that.
“Where all the bitches at?” Jason blurted suddenly. “Shit, I came all the way over here from Yokohama for the bitches! Right Jeff? I heard there be a trailer load uh hoes up in here. Where the fuck they at?”
Jeff nodded his agreement. They were both looking at me like I was a pimp with the answers or something.
“Yo, I’ll be back…” I said and headed towards the bathroom. I passed the exit on the way and made a detour. Once outside I took a deep breath, and headed for the station.
Another day, I stopped at The Hub in Shibuya, again, for a beer. At the bar were a couple of white guys dressed in business suits. I sat down not too far from them and ordered.
“How’s it going, bro?”
“Hanging in there, ” I said after pausing appropriately for station identification. I don’t know who gave white guys carte blanche to call black men bro but it’s a done deal. They seemed friendly enough though so I let it go.
“You see them girls over there?” the other one said. I followed his thumb to two girls sitting in a booth in the back chatting and giggling. They were awfully cute.
“Yeah,” I said.
“We fucked them two weeks ago, didn’t we Joe? Took them to a love hotel around the corner there and fucked the shit outta them…”
I didn’t say ‘that’s nice’ but I’m sure my face said it. What always bothers me is that some white guys tend to think it’s ok to use the worst fucking language when they talk to me. Not that the language bothers me. It’s just the presumptuousness that I would indulge that kind of vulgarity. Some black people do it, too, but I don’t get sanctimonious with black folks.
“How were they?” I asked cuz they were still looking at me waiting for a reaction.
“What the fuck you mean, how were they? They were fucking great!”
“Then why the fuck they over there and y’all over here? Y’all had enough?”
“We’re waiting for these other two babes now,” the other one said. “They meeting us here in about an hour!”
They grinned egregiously and gave each other some kind of secret pound and grinned at me as if to say, ‘how you like me now?’
I didn’t. Besides I’m not keen on having sex with other guys in the room. I’d only done it twice in my life and the second time I had debilitating performance anxiety. The first time I came in about 15 seconds.
“I’ll be back…”
Another time I went to TGI Fridays in Roppongi. There were three black guys at the bar. Definitely military. I used to be military right out of high school so I can smell a soldier like a fart in a sauna. Plus their conversation about the restrictions placed on them after yet another incident involving a soldier and some hapless Japanese girl was a dead give-away.
“Yo, come over here!” one of them practically ordered upon noticing me. He was drunk. I obeyed. They had a pitcher of something with a head and poured me a glass.
“Here’s to this fucking country!” another said.
“Fuck them!” the third said.
A Japanese waitress, who apparently could understand English a bit, was standing by, smiling. I felt her embarrassment.
“Yo, you restricted?”
“Me? I’m not in the military.”
“What you do?”
“I’m an English teacher.”
“That’s what’s up!” another said. “At a High School?’
“Nah, at NOVA.”
“Man, I would love to teach at a High School here. All those fucking mini-skirts and…”
“NOVA? Man, you must be getting mad pussy! How the fuck you get that gig?”
“Just applied and interviewed and what not.”
“How they treat you over there?” another one said. They all just kinda blended into one. That’s the goal of military training and it was a raging success with these three. They were a unit. I almost said ‘can’t complain’ out of habit but I might as well have said ‘y’all know how it is’ cuz they reacted like I had.
“These fucking Japanese, right?”
“Make you wanna choke the shit outta them!” Another said.
“After you fuck the shit out of them!” the third added.
They all laughed kind of lewdly. The waitress was still smiling. 100 buttons all over her uniform. One read “Kiss me I’m Irish.” Another read, “English OK!” Our eyes met for a moment and I saw a flash of irritation, then it was immediately replaced by her ‘would you like to order some appetizers’ customer service smile.
“She’s cute right?” another said. “I’d like to choke her with my dick.”
They all laughed. I grimaced.
“You know what fucks me up the most? I can clearly see why we shoved two nukes up their asses! They’s about some arrogant mother fuckers, ain’t they?”
“Word!” another agreed. “And the only thing standing between the Dear Leader- Kim Jong- whatever the fuck his name is- shoving a couple more up that ass is us! And they got the mother fucking audacity to be putting on airs with me. When they should be worshiping my ass like the Buddha!” He looked in the direction of the waitress standing by. “That bitch there…you know what she did?”
I almost said ‘what’ instinctively, distracted by my musing about a trip to the “bathroom”. I looked at him and I could tell he was waiting for the ‘what.’ I’d fucked up his rhythm.
“I’m sorry. What?”
“Man, stop your fucking whining,” another one said. “Can’t you see the man ain’t trying to hear about your failed conquest? Nigga fucked one waitress at Outback’s one time and now he think he’s the fuckin’ mack. Motherfucker, it was luck!”
“And,” the other added, “As many bitches as there is up in here. you need to stop whining over that button chick and get back in the game, nigga. You embarrassing yourself, and us. Shut the fuck up about that bitch already!”
“You right, you right! But that was some foul shit she said!”
“Bitch don’t know English good…what the fuck? Cut her some slack!”
“She supposed to be the mother fucking ‘English Ok‘ bitch up in here! How the fuck they gonna claim they got English speaking staff while they got this bitch and she don’t even know the difference between mother fucking…”
I whipped out my cellphone and snapped, “Moshi moshi!”
“Ima doko?” Where you at?
Roppongi ni iru.” I’m in Roppongi.
“Hai, wakatta. Mata ne.” All right, got it, later.
“Well, fellas…booty, I mean, duty calls. Gotta run! Thanks for the brew!”
They bought my fake call, I think. I didn’t care. I left.
Another time I was in Roppongi, at some bar. There were two cute girls sitting at the bar chatting and giggling and looking entirely approachable. So I approached them.
One turned, looked me up and down, winced a little like some foul odor had invaded her nostrils and turned back to the other without any further ado. What the fuck! I looked myself up and down, gave my underarms a quick sniff… No odor, nice suit, decent shoes, and I had a fresh shave and a haircut. The look she’d given me reminded me of the look some Japanese people would give me on the trains…a snub that wanted to be seen and felt. It also was reminiscent of the look club chicks in NY would give me. I’d accept it from the chicks in NY, but from these Japanese chicks? They had to be outta their fucking minds…
“Fuck is your problem?” I shouted. “Motherfucker say hi to y’all, respectfully and what not, and you give me your ass to kiss like you all that! Bitch, you ain’t shit!”
They were both looking at me, a bit stunned at my outburst. I wasn’t even sure what had prompted it. I’d never done anything like that before. I was more likely to walk away with my tail between my legs or pretend I hadn’t said anything to them. I’d never gotten aggressive with women in clubs before. Never! In NY it wouldn’t have been wise, anyway. Might get your ass maced. Something about these girls just rubbed me the wrong way.
The bartender came over and said something to the girls in Japanese, they kind of offhandedly indicated in my direction as if to say but this one over here can’t take no for an answer…
The bartender was your typical skinny, friendly, perfect hair, half-gay looking Japanese guy. But the bouncer he’d signaled to come over to the bar was big and black and mean looking.
“Yo, is there a problem?” he said but it felt like he said ‘do YOU have a problem?’ His voice sounded like he had a zero-tolerance policy that had nothing to do with the bar’s policy. It was his personal policy.
Still, I didn’t like the way he presumed I was the problem and not these innocent fucking Japanese girls.
“Why don’t you ask them?”
He looked me in the eyes, deep. And he seemed to move a step closer to me, though I don’t think he did. “Cuz I’m asking you!”
I don’t know why – he was twice my size and obviously not accustomed to being challenged by sober people- but I didn’t back down. “Yeah, there’s a problem. You the problem solver?”
“That’s what they pay me for!” he said, but he had lost a little of his edge. “Why don’t you let me buy you a beer and we can talk over there.”
I liked his tone now. “Sounds like a plan!” I said. “Smells like rotten sushi over here anyway.”
We walked over to his station by the door. A waitress brought me a beer.
“Where you from, man?”
“Brooklyn,” I said.
“Word! I’m from Newark!”
“Fucking Jersey?” I almost laughed. New Jersey is a joke, and the punchline, to New Yorkers. But, Newark ain’t the funny part of Jersey. Newark is to New Jersey as Brooklyn is to NYC. “We’re practically neighbors. How long you been over here?”
“Too long!” he said. “But, ain’t shit happening in Newark so what the fuck!”
“I feel you, bruh,” I said. “What up with them chickenheads over there?” I said referring to the two girls I’d practically accosted.
“Man, don’t fuck with them. That’s this Yakuza cat’s daughter and her friend. They ain’t worth it. They like to come up in here, mini-skirts up to here, thongs showing, dancing like freaks on ‘X’ to Hip Hop and dick teasing motherfuckers. But, everybody know who they is except niggas like you just come through for a breather. So, sometimes I gotta straighten some niggas out, but, you seemed pretty real, and you ain’t been drinking so…”
“Damn, yo!” I said. “Good looking out!”
“You lucky they don’t know English,” he said, and smiled.
Next up:#7: Escape fromYokohama!