From: Peter Rivard
Date: Thu Apr 3, 2003 12:07:33 AM Japan
To: Newsletter
Subject: Another evening takes a 90° turn

Hi, all,

       After a "teaching" session with one of my adult students tonight, I decided to head out for a beer. It was too late to make it to the places I usually go, near my schools, so I tried for a place I'd driven by on my way out of town to the west (on my way to Go-chu); being a bar, it was closed by 9:30. Goddamn farmers. So I tried again to the east, more towards the center of town, and got lucky half a mile from home.
       Now, I'm not vain enough to think that all conversation should stop and focus on me the moment I part the curtains of a small, local watering hole, but just as a stranger (never mind a foreigner) a little bit of friendly attention is welcome. This time, I found myself nursing a beer, waiting for the snack I'd ordered, being surprised that, aside from the proprietor, I'd had no friendly "Hellos" at all. There were two pairs of patrons deep in conversation.
       Finally, the middle-aged guy next to me got up to use the toilet, and the older fellow he'd been chatting with started to talk to me. From there, I ended up talking to his younger friend when he got back, and soon the younger guy invited me to come to his house to meet his wife and daughter; I protested a while--too tired, it was too late, I'm sure he had to work tomorrow, etc.--but I eventually gave in, and soon enough he said, "Let's go." I stopped to pay my bill, but he kept telling me not to bother, and as I protested more seriously, he actually dragged me out the door, me losing my firm grip on the corner as the proprietor wondered what to do, leaving my bill to go on his tab.
       Next thing I know, we're pulling up at his house, and I'm being greeted by a large (for Japan) dog that basically seemed to be a pit bull in a dalmation paint job and by some sort of tiny white doglet. The human members of the household were a bit shier, and in fact only came out for brief introductions and to bring us food and sake. I tried to draw out the seventeen year old daughter a bit, if only because I'd been brought back specifically to meet her, but to no avail. Other than responding to my attempts to get some of her junior high school English out of her, her interaction was limited to pouring booze for me, bringing in the food her mother was preparing (against my protests--and I really was trying to protest), and laughing behind the sliding screen to the next room when I or her father said something funny (my analysis of the causes of the current war seemed to be quite a bit more amusing than I'd expected). I think Hide, the guy, was a little disappointed that his womenfolk weren't fully appreciating the opportunity he'd brought home for them. He was friendly, interesting, and intelligent--really a nice guy. His wife and daughter were charming and beautiful, if shy. I even liked his dogs--the little one was quiet but eagerly friendly and the big one wasn't as scary as he looked.
       Then his wife drove me the short distance back to the bar, where I'd left my bike, and the evening was over. And really I'd just gone out to get a quick beer.

Peter

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