I have Japan to thank for making me gay. I’m pretty sure it did anyway, since it’s fairly dessicated my mojo. I keep checking the mirror to make sure, but while I don’t look a whole lot gayer than before, the evidence is certainly mounting. Like I woke up this morning and instead of my usual manly breakfast of cold pizza, eggs, and coffee, I had yogurt. Fruit yogurt. Now, to be fair, Japan does have some really amazing flavors, like aloe yogurt, fig yogurt, mango yogurt . . . seriously freaking yummy!
Ah jeez, I knew it. I done gone gay.
The Three Warning Signs of Gay
Red flag number one has got to be my newfound fashion sense. I don’t know what happened; it’s like one day I just started being embarrassed when stumbling to the convenience store with a three-day beard and wrinkly t-shirt. Soon, I went from mocking Japanese guys with their coiffed hair and tiny purses to wondering how I could get my eyebrows to look that good. And then it wasn’t enough to walk through Tokyo in battered flip flops and beer-stained cargo shorts. At least, I think that was beer. Anyway, these days I can’t leave the house without looking in the mirror and wondering, do these socks and tight trousers actually go? I mean, they’re both white with blue stripes, so I guess it’s okay. Trust me, you start thinking that way and you’re on the express train to Gaysville.
Putting the P in Public Restrooms
Red flag number two is the number of men masturbating next to me in public restrooms. This is a weird thing, and I’m sorry to have to relay it, but it’s definitely a thing. I mean, people talk about chikan on the trains and all, but the truth is that some public freakiness just comes as part of this culture. Not saying it’s right, but simply that folks here pretend not to notice things that in other countries would result in a group of macho, body-builder-looking dudes kicking your ass.
Like last week I got off the train and went straight to the bathroom because it was Tuesday. See, there’s this izakaya near my work that does half-price beer on Tuesdays. So it’s a sure bet that I go there every week, eat a dozen gyoza and drink as many ridiculously cheap beers as possible before getting on the train. Hey, it’d be a sin to pass up such a good deal. What can I say, it’s a religious thing. Anyway, that guarantees that by the time I get to my station I’m straight ready to explode. So I hustle to the toilet and as I’m doing my business this dude pulls up to the spot next to me and just starts hitting it. Not hitting the urinal—I mean, hitting it. Like, I’m not looking or anything, but if you’re a guy, you know that there’s a range of acceptable motion one can do while at a urinal. And it’s a really freaking narrow range, because you don’t want to give the impression that you’re standing there hitting it. Whatever. This guy was way outside of the safety zone. And when something like that happens, you’re just gay by association. It’s like smoking pot. Like you’re at a party and maybe you don’t even inhale. Maybe you don’t even like pot. But if the cops show up, everybody goes to jail. Like what’re you gonna say? But officer, I didn’t know there’d be cannabis here. And if somebody walked into the bathroom at that moment, you’d be like, Hey no, I was just standing here because I slammed twelve beers and it takes me a full minute to drain Mr. Lizard . . . but I’m not gay. Yeah, sure you’re not.
If this was the first time this had happened, maybe I could retain my manfulness. But it’s not. It’s like the fourth time. Ginza? Boom, some old guy hitting it. Asakusa? Some fat salaryman. Ikebukuro? This high school kid. It’s crazy. I don’t know what’s up with Japanese people. It’s not like there isn’t a stall they could go into for privacy. And I don’t actually think it has anything to do with me, although one could hardly blame them since I do have really nice eyebrows and exceptionally tight trousers. Most of these guys were already getting busy before I got there. Nor did they stop when other dudes came in to take a leak. Something about the Japanese group culture just makes them, I don’t know, want some company. I’m not hating on gay people at all either. If that’s your thing, hey, find a closet or a forest or something and knock yourself out. But do you have to second-hand gay me? I was just hoping to stay straight a little longer, that’s all.
Sexy Japanese Women
But the biggest red flag is that I don’t find Japanese women as sexy as I used to. Look, no one’s more shocked by this than me. I mean, not saying they’re bad looking, just that their personalities leave—how to put this—something to be desired. Somehow they were supposed to be way better than the ladies I knew back home. Kind of like how New Coke should’ve been so much more delicious than regular Coke. It’s like you take Coca-cola, but you make it New—so now it’s better, right? When is extra sweetness not an improvement?
But yesterday, as often happens, I’m in an Irish bar with a glass of beer in my right hand, leaning back on the wall and conversating with this rather attractive Japanese gal on my left hand. Everything’s right in the universe, you know what I’m saying? And after the usual questions, she gazes into my eyes and chirps, “So what do you think about Japanese girls?” So I look her up and down and in my raspiest voice reply, “Oh, the best, definitely.” And then, just when I should have leaned in and made some witty and slightly flirty comment, I felt a sudden wave of, what? gayness? I mean, all the girls here used to rank between 8 and 10 on the Seeroi scale of 1 to Titillating. But now my math has gone to hell, and I start thinking like . . . hmm, heavily padded bra . . . glued-on eyelashes . . . lives in a condo with her mom and little brother . . . her hobby is shopping . . . her personal statement is “I think dachshund is super kawaii” . . . I’ll give her a point for having a cuter handbag than me, so then carry the 1 and that puts her at, oh, round up to 6. Suddenly I realize just how picky and jaded I’ve become. And then for some inane reason, I decide to actually continue with, what’s that called? conversation? Never a good idea, seriously.
“So if you could accomplish anything in your life,” I ask, “what would it be?” I like to ask the big questions. But that’s just me.
“Get married,” she says.
“Well, everyone’s gotta have a goal. So what does your boyfriend think?
“Oh, I don’t have a boyfriend. I just want to get married. To anyone.
“Yeah, that’s pretty ambitious of you. Well, good luck with that.”
And right there, I knew. It was like someone pulled a Rock Hudson on me. The Old Ken would’ve had two more beers, turned that 6 into an 8, and made a night of it. But New Ken, ah jeez, he just had another beer and made for the door. I mean, it’s not like it was a Diet Coke or a Tab or something, but still. Suddenly I began to worry that it wasn’t just mojo I’d lost in Japan, but something more. Maybe I’d gone gay as hell.