I just fell face down into a sitcom. All I can ask of you is to please believe that this story is perfectly true. If you care to check with my relatives, you can verify that I did indeed send the following emails, the first to my sister on 12/20, and the second two to my father on 12/21 (Thursday).
12/20: The last few days, I've been trying to organize a dinner out for a few friends before a couple of them take off to Shanghai for the break. I've been trying (none too subtly, to my friends' amusement) to get Tammy to bring along a young female teacher she works with who came to dinner with us last week and whom I'd like to see again. I finally got her number tonight, but it was too late to call, and I'll call her tomorrow.
12/21 6:55 pm: Tomorrow, I'm going out with friends (including a cute young woman I met last week if I can get in touch with her) for a last dinner out before two of them head off to China for the break.
I spent several days trying to set up this dinner, largely because I wanted to see my friends off but also largely to see Hiromi again. She knows the teacher who is my best friend at Manyo, and when I asked him about her he'd told me she was a lot of fun and a very interesting, strange person. I've learned that anybody a Japanese describes as strange is likely to be my kind of person. I don't have a crush on this woman or anything like that, but she seemed like she'd be an interesting person to get to know, and I'm always happy to widen my circle of Japanese friends.
12/21 7:32 pm: Well, the woman I mentioned is joining us. She's an English teacher and I know her English is excellent, but she was very shy about speaking it on the phone, so we talked in Japanese. I mentioned that some of the other foreigners she met that night were going. Apparently, my pronunciation is bad enough (or her grasp on foreign names is bad enough, which I can't blame her for because I have a hell of a time with Japanese names) that I had to describe each of the other people involved as she didn't sound like she recognized the names--and my off-the-cuff descriptions were things I would never have said in English: the tiny woman, the dark woman, etc. I told her not to tell my friends how I'd described them. I just don't have the vocabulary or grammar to say anything more tactful. She laughed at every thing I said--punchlines like "on the left on the road north of the supermarket, about 200 meters west of the river." Oy, I've got a long way to go with this language.
Indeed, the conversation with Hiromi was pretty odd, but she seemed happy to hear from me and glad to go out with us. She did seem more shy about her English on the phone that at the dinner the previous week, but that's not unusual. She said she was looking forward to having someone to practice her English with: "you can teach me English." Anyway, if you've picked out the clues here and figured out the ending, then you're quicker than I was.
I should mention that somehow or other I was offered a chance to join my school's Bon Enkai (New Year's party) at a fancy hot spring resort last night for less than the official rate, which I couldn't afford when formally invited earlier, but turned down the last-minute offer both because I'd been the one pushing everyone to come to this dinner and because I was looking forward to seeing Hiromi. Last night, we had all arrived before Hiromi, and so were watching as a fortyish woman came in, said "hello" to Tammy, and joined us. Tammy clearly had a "who the hell is this?" look on her face, and I was flummoxed. I have to admit that at first I wondered if this really could be her; I'd remembered her as younger looking and much prettier (and I knew she'd said she was 23). My memory is often terrible, so I did doubt myself for a minute. I actually had to remind myself that, no, I hadn't been drinking that night (I never drink THAT much, anyway). Tammy kept looking at me as if to ask why the hell I'd called her. Ayesha picked up on the weird looks on Tammy's and my faces and kept asking, "what, what?" when Hiromi was turned away. It also became apparent that, although her English was better than my Japanese, it wasn't on a par with the person I had finally decided was a completely separate Hiromi I'd met the week before. She kept asking Mitsuko for translations. Tammy, who seemed to take a quite a while to figure out that she even knew this woman, asked me (out of Hiromi's earshot) how I'd happened to call her, and I told her I'd called the number she'd given me--the number she had listed under "Hiromi" in her book, apparently. From conversation, Tammy figured out that she'd met Hiromi at a festival parade she'd marched in last August, spent a lot of time talking to her, and exchanged phone numbers with her. They'd had no contact since. This Hiromi turned out to be very nice and an interesting dinner companion--just not the person we were all expecting. On the way home, Tammy rode with Ayesha and Mistuko and finally filled them in about what'd been going on all evening.
The flip side is Hiromi's. While we on the phone, I was thinking, "wow, this chick is pretty daffy," yet I was the one talking to a stranger without even realizing it. She got a call from a foreigner she didn't know who addressed her by name and acted for all the world like he knew her, as if he had just talked to her recently, and he asked her to go out to dinner with some other foreigners he named, none of whom sounded familiar to her. From my description of Tammy ("small Tammy"), I don't think she remembered who it was until she saw her in the restaurant. From her perspective, it was a wrong number with the coincidence of the right given name--as, in fact, it was. And she said, "yes." I admire that spirit of adventure, someone willing to say, "What the hell. Dinner with unknown foreigners. Should be interesting."
Now, I have to go online to check an Ecard that Tammy sent me to see if she did indeed remember to send me the number of the RIGHT Hiromi.