Tokyo Tantrums

Japan ~ Tokyo – 2015

Tokyo has a big city sort of reputation to it, an air of grandeur accompanied with a sense of mystery somewhere within the non-stop luminous glare of the lights and the 24/7 rush…

So many films have painted a picture that has made an impression on me, and because of this it was high on the list of places I wanted to see…so when I realised I had a long weekend coming up I didn’t hesitate and booked it up straight away! Just a couple of hours to get from my home in Korea to the unknown world beyond – armed with nothing but a friend’s recommendations (which proved invaluable) and a feeling I was soon to be in my very own Lost in Translation remake…

Lost Trans GIF

Sidenote: when travelling you really do need to think long and hard about who you will actually travel with. Well maybe not too thorough – nothing too ridiculous, but at the very least you need to see a clean bill of health (both physical and mental), a criminal background check, and dental records. Also check their voice and typical conversation topics as otherwise you may be locked in with the most boring groaner on the planet – which is never going to be fun. With this particular adventure I was meaning to go alone originally, and then at the last minute a lady friend of mine tagged along…which brought some erm, shall we say – complications? 

Anyway I mean this sincerely when I say that Tokyo is a marvel. So much to see and do, a far cry from the more reserved and traditional parts of Japan I had visited earlier in the year.  But oddly I found it manages to retain a fantastic balance between the two often conflicting sides; you see one second I’d be staring up at a 60 foot tall science fiction juggernaut in the form of the powerful Gundam, the next I was wearing a traditional yukata and relaxing in an onsen…then I’d blink and be back to the mad rush of the Shibuya scramble crossing! I was completely in my element, roving around searching for the weird and wonderful, straining my neck to try and see as much as I possibly could…it was everything I had dreamed about for so long, and so much more…

Shibuya GIF

But yeah: the ghost at the feast…the wasp at the picnic…the drunk and slightly creepy uncle at the family reunion. Hmm, that last one was a bit weird, but you get my point – this is the part of the story where I say what didn’t go so smoothly, and most of it had to do with my travel companion: hence my warning earlier. You see I try my utmost to remain as friendly and light hearted as possible during trips, as from experience I understand that it can be a pretty stressful period if you let the small things seep in and truly affect you…if you do that suddenly the foul smell of a certain street, the incessant honking of horns on the road, or perhaps even your friend’s breathing can have you suddenly enraged beyond all comprehension: like smashing an axe into a locked door screaming “heeeeere’s Johnny!”  sort of level rage. So it’s best to take a deep breath instead, and just let most hiccups roll off your back…

However, my lady friend didn’t share this ethos…which meant that any small thing became the reason for a monumental day-ruining mood. Juxtapose that dark rain cloud along with my attempted cheery sense of humour and you had quite a pairing; something like if Voldemort was to meet one of the Teletubbies. Well actually that’s unfair (to he who must not be named): it would only be like that if Voldemort had the emotional range to both grimace and groan about public transport, and literally burst into tears about the levels of salt in Japanese food…as it stands I don’t think he is quite on her level yet.

I can understand the frustration though, Tokyo is huge and it’s far too easy to become dazed and confused by the sprawling subway system: which I honestly think was designed by someone throwing spaghetti at the wall, and saying: “that’ll do just fine.” We took many wrong turns during our days there, and the hours were long and well travelled…but I don’t see how it helps remaining silent or dragging your feet along as if you are a pathetically non-threatening zombie, or almost defunct robot:

Robot GIF

There is an answer to such problems though, and one which I will gladly share with all of you…and that is; beer. Yes, you heard it here first! The golden elixir is the perfect remedy to all sorts of ailments, including the frustration you may feel when a friend (or something more) is becoming more than you can bear. Thankfully there was a so-called “English pub” just off a side street near to the Shibuya crossing…where for three times the normal price I could enjoy beer, ales, and all that good stuff as if I was back amongst the smoke and laughing guffaws of my homeland…“Wait, it’s how much?! Jesus tap-dancing Christ!? It’s not worth that!”

But yeah, that’s how things go! Ups and downs, smiles and frowns…you have to take the good with the bad, and try to carve out memories that will last: and despite all the issues we were still able to do that…pretty much.

However I must now look for an AA meeting in South Korea: so yeah, wish me luck. 

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50 Shades of CRAZY

I have held off telling this tale becau-shhhhhhh, quiet! Did you hear that…no? Oh…I erm…maybe it’s just the wind…sorry…sorry…

But yes as I was saying; I have taken my time with writing this story as it still frightens me a little, and truth be told I’ll probably always be a bit jittery about it…wait…did you seriously not hear that?! Oh God…please send help…she’s…here…

Scared GIF

Anyway, it was maybe a couple of months ago now – ahhh, how time flies when you are barricading yourself in a safe house, ey? And I was readying myself for a second date with a lucky/unlucky lady (not completely sure) – you see the first time had went quite well, she seemed fun, kind-hearted, and was outrageously beautiful – so much so I felt like a humongous wart of a man in comparison, like the hunchback with Esmeralda you know? …but I digress…

Despite all that I was pretty confident the second would go well too, just dinner then drinks or something – the usual set up; in all honesty as long as she laughs at my stories again it’s a good time in my book! So we met up and straight away she slipped a note into my hand before excusing herself to the bathroom – on the front it read; ‘you are my hero’…a call-back reference to the first date when she had almost aimlessly wandered into a speeding bus before I outstretched my arm to stop a messy collision – I had a new white shirt on after all, and it wouldn’t do to have been covered in blood spatter! There’d be no getting it out!

Red On You GIF

The rest of the letter was a long-ish rambled account of how happy she was to have met me, how I’m like no other before, and blah-blah-blah, all that good stuff…I thought it was a little much, especially so soon, but I confess I was touched and considered it to be quite cute albeit in a very cringe-worthy 15 year old first-love sort of way…

During dinner things were going okay, if not a little boring – you see, I was trying to take more of a backseat in the hope of learning more about her…I mean I love to tell stories and make people laugh, but it’s meant to be a date not a stand up routine, right?  – and I had noticed how little I actually knew about the person I was sitting across from. She obliged, and talked more about her job as a clothes designer, which I thought was somewhat interesting…she’d also been abroad, living in Australia for a few years…and I attempted to pick her brains over a number of things related to that…but the replies were usually uninspired and drab…one word answers in many cases…ah well…waiter, another beer please!

But then things took a huge U-turn right when I began to talk about the kids I teach, and how dealing with Korean parents can sometimes be a little complicated. Upon hearing this she instantly broke out a rather bizarre (yet undoubtedly compelling) tale…it turns out, she had heard a strange rumour…that foreign guys in Korea often go to teach private English  lessons in children’s homes one on one – which is true. And also she’d heard that sometimes the mothers want lessons too – which is also true…so yeah, still nothing out of the ordinary here…but bear with me…

Bored GIF

The more alarming part of the story is that allegedly these so-called lessons are not totally as they seem on the surface…instead the process goes a little like this; foreign chap teaches the child, after which the child watches the TV, then the teacher goes into the mother’s bedroom…time…erm…elapses…and then he leaves with his wage for the kid’s education, and a handsome tip for his other extra-curricular services…

Upon hearing this I broke out into raucous laughter – regardless of the fact the story was whispered to me in hushed tones as if it were a scene from the Da Vinci Code….I simply couldn’t handle the seriousness of it all, I mean I won’t say it couldn’t happen, or hasn’t for that matter…but it’s certainly not the seedy epidemic sweeping Korea that she was trying to make it out to be!

Well, if it is I am missing out…

“So, is it true…do you do that like every other?” she asked in a stern tone, after which I noticed how her perfectly shaped eyebrows actually look rather demonic when angered, sort of furrowed into a cartoon-esque V shape. All I could do was stare back in disbelief as her eyes burst out of their sockets in an interrogative glare…she was really stony-faced about the whole thing, but I couldn’t be…

“Yeah…yeah of course! Wait…I thought it was normal? Isn’t it? I was just trying to fit in…I thought it must be Korean culture? No? Oh – how embarrassing…”

Jim Shh GIF

She giggled in a really creepy way while stabbing her fork into a chunk of chicken…I was allowed a few moments to dwell on how ludicrous a story and question it was…but only a few moments mind, you see soon she had more to say…

“You know, if I ever find out you do that, hehehe, or cheat on me in any way – I’ll call immigration, have your VISA removed, and have you deported from this country forever. Simple. Really simple. You…out…life here, over. Simple.”

I laughed uncomfortably and squirmed in my chair…“I’m serious. I’ll tell a story in Korean. You won’t be able to deny. Simple, really simple. Out. Never to come back.”

Well, it should go without saying that I stopped laughing, but I couldn’t help but carry on squirming – that was out of my control now as a flood of fear took hold. To say I was incredibly uneasy would be a pitiful understatement, in fact if you want a more crude yet accurate description: I was completely shitting myself.  I mean there I was, sat on date number two and already knowing that if were to upset this stranger in any way, she was mad enough to move mountains just to destroy my life. I’m not talking about the cheating thing per-say, not particularly my bag anyway (too lazy for that business)…but if she was willing to do that what other negative potential does she possess behind those satanic eyes? If I forgot our anniversary would she chop off my fingers and play her xylophone with them? If I couldn’t recall her mother’s name would she remove my teeth use them as board game pieces for her own amusement? If I refused any one of her demands would she feed me nothing but dog food and make me answer to the name ‘Bruno’ for an entire week???

ALL OF THESE THINGS HYPOTHETICALS SUDDENLY SEEMED POSSIBLE!

Crazy Eyes GIF

She must have noted my sudden silence and lack of eye contact (with anything other than my plate), as she stood up and pulled a chair around to my side of the table to perch next to me – her legs outstretched over my own, as she began to massage my perspiring face with her spindly witch fingers. Not exactly awkward…I’d define the situation as err…terrifying. 

I tried to persevere as if I was completely unphased; which for obvious reasons could only last so long. When I couldn’t take it any longer I put down my cutlery and took a deep breath – I knew I had to make my escape, but anything to horrible could potentially spark her wrath, so I would have to approach it all with tact…whilst mulling over this petrifying conundrum I accidentally made eye contact with her grinning face (YOU STUPID BASTARD, JOHN!) that’s when she threw her arms around my neck and started rocking me back and forth while cooing:

“You know I’m so happy we are together. I already feel like we’ve known each other for years, and years. Can’t imagine life without you…don’t want to…”

errr…yeah…sorry to interrupt the story but I have quick query if you don’t mind? Thanks a lot, it won’t take long! Okay, so why doesn’t life have a panic button?! Or perhaps even a Mr. Burns type trap door?! Like at that point I should have been able to reach for a hidden switch under the table and had her removed from my life instantly – it was just too close to a scene from a horror movie to be real…too jarringly awful to be my actual life.  But no!! Instead I have to sit there and deal with it, all the while sweating and shaking as this mental leech attaches herself to me…

Crazy Hug GIF

I’m sure to unknowing onlookers it looked like quite a sickly sweet scene …but it was anything but. Instead I was wishing we were in a taller building – so I could happily throw myself out of it…certainly a solution…but not so much at a ground floor restaurant. I imagine she’d have a lot of questions to ask my bloodied, but still live body – then she’d drag me to her lair to hump before making wallpaper out of my skin, and kitchen utensils out of my stripped bones.

Oh, not to mention ruining my VISA status! (Almost forgot that one!)

Anyway where was I? I got a little side-tracked with the whole crazy killer montage thing…oh yeah, so I was in the restaurant with her latched to me like some sort of evil barnacle when I decided enough was enough. So I just pretended I was really tired and that I should probably head home – which was double-talk for: “please let me fucking leave, so I never have to see you again”.

As we parted she waffled something about knowing I was special, because she now knows I would never do her wrong…and that she trusts she’ll see me again very soon. Yeah…right…perhaps in hell, if I’m unlucky…

Hell GIF

Safe to say she’s blocked and deleted on three different forms of social media…if that fails then I will seek help from two priests in order to perform an exorcism…

Wish me luck, my friends. (Was nice knowing ya!)

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