It’s been a cold winter, but spring is coming. I haven’t yet burned my apartment building to the ground. I cherish the simple things in life.
I recently bought a space heater to help save some yen on my electric bill. Before moving to Japan, I somehow pictured living in a high-rise apartment with a panoramic city view. Champagne and sushi, that kind of thing. The dream did not include sitting on the floor of a dark, four-story building, staring at the factory across the street while wearing a beanie and drinking cans of Chu-Hi in front of a tiny heater. Reality can be so cruel.
Fortunately, to help me survive the harsh climate, the Tokyo Electric Company sent a special pamphlet with cartoons of a girl and her cat staying blissfully warm by following simple steps. The language was perplexing, but from the pictures I gathered that if the cat simply kept the toilet lid closed, everything would be toasty. I was quite pleased to learn this, and immediately went and put down the lid. Then I waited. I also considered getting a cat, but I thought I’d first see how well the toilet bit worked. Disappointingly, the apartment didn’t exactly become tropical like I’d hoped. It just made it one step harder to go pee.
A more helpful suggestion from the pamphlet was to close my curtains. Unlike the toilet lid, this did eventually make the place warmer. Unfortunately, during the day it also forced me to choose between heat and sunlight, but so long as I kept my apartment dark as a cave and huddled around my heater, things were just grand.
The one mistake I made this season was washing my sheets and cleaning the place up. Initially, I felt good about it, but housework always makes me hungry. This feeling was exacerbated by the sudden odor of delicious popcorn, which was odd, considering that I wasn’t cooking anything. There was also something peculiar happening to my futon cover, which appeared to be on fire. But of course this was only because while changing the sheets I’d thrown it on top of the heater and it was, actually, on fire.
Around this time, I realized that my bedding had become a roaring inferno in the middle of my otherwise tidy apartment, right next to the closed curtains. I never really thought of the ceiling as low, but then I’d never lit a fire under it either. On the plus side, the room was finally nice and warm. I rapidly looked left, then right, but no amount of looking either direction or saying oh-jeezus-oh-man seemed to make the flames any smaller, so eventually I grabbed an un-fiery futon edge and dragged it through the kitchen into the shower. You’d be surprised how much smoke one futon cover can produce.
Even in Japan, there is a God, as evidenced by the fact that the smoke alarm did not go off. I could just picture explaining in Japanese why this was “no big deal” to the crusty evil lady next door while she whacked me about the head with an umbrella. I now know that God gave me a second chance for a reason; and that reason is that He doesn’t want me to do housework. Far be it from me to challenge divine intervention. Lord, I now await your instructions never to wash the dishes again.