Going out Friday night is great, because it’s like your weekend is three days long instead of two. That’s an extra 80%. I use math to make all important decisions in my life.
So late one Friday night, I found myself going to a club with Dave and Eri. Dave’s super-power is speaking English, which means that you can actually have a conversation with the guy. Eri’s super-power is drinking everything in sight and weighing 90 pounds, which means she falls down a lot.
I rushed home after work, changed into tight jeans and a shirt that makes my biceps look bigger than they actually are, then rode the train to Ebisu station, where Dave and Eri were waiting. We got to the club around eleven, ordered a round of beers, then went to stand on the dance floor, since dancing’s technically illegal in Japan. After a while, Eri started falling down, but nobody seemed to notice.
After a couple of hours of vigorous standing, I was pretty tired, so I crashed onto a sofa and Eri promptly fell on top of me. We started making out. I’m not really into her, but it seemed like something good to do.
“Oh Dave,” she said.
“Uh, it’s Ken,” I said.
“Where’s Dave?” she said. “I like Dave.
“Well, Dave’s not here right now, baby. Just close your eyes. It’s okay.
And this went on for a while, until suddenly I had one of my trademark Moments of Clarity. This usually means I haven’t had enough to drink, and that my brain’s still functioning, which is never good. I looked at my watch.
“What day is it?” I asked.
“My watch says ‘Saturday.’”
“Oh, Dave,” she said.
“Ken, dammit. It’s Ken.”
“Where are we?” I asked. “Are we in Ebisu?”
“Aren’t you Dave?” she asked.
Something strange had happened with the time, because it was Friday when we got there, but somehow magically it had become Saturday. It was like a time warp, where I’d been transported into the future.
“I’ve got a wedding to go to on Saturday,” I blurted out. “Here in Ebisu. That’s today. I gotta go.” I stood up, and Eri rolled on the floor.
“See ya later, Dave,” she called after me.
Sleeping in Manga Cafes
Now, if I’d been wearing a suit, this wouldn’t have been a problem, because I could’ve just gone to a manga cafe or a park bench and gotten a couple hours of sleep, then bought a disposable razor and some underwear, and shown up at the wedding looking fresh. But as it stood, I had to ride the train back to my apartment, change into a suit, then come all the way back down to where I already was. I ran to Ebisu station and caught the first train at 4:30 a.m.
When I finally got to my apartment, I checked my watch as I was putting the key into the door. It was seven. That’s weird, I thought, no way it takes two and a half hours to get home from Ebisu. My watch must’ve gotten thrown off by the time warp, I figured. But anyway, since the wedding was at noon, I just went in and crashed on the futon until ten, then got up, dressed, and rode back down to Ebisu.
I was still puzzling over the time as I showed up to the wedding. The only thing that made sense is if somehow I’d passed out on the Yamanote Line, and rode several loops around Tokyo, sound asleep. I didn’t remember falling asleep, but I still had two and a half hours of time unaccounted for. Anyway, I gave the bride and groom my envelope with the customary $300 of yen in it, had some food and cocktails, and started to feel a bit more awake.
Japanese weddings are just like American weddings, only the food’s a lot better and the bride and groom do about six costume changes. Every time I turned around, they had on a different color tuxedo and wedding dress. Guess that’s where my 300 bucks went. Whatever. People gave a round of speeches, made some jokes, we all had a bunch of drinks, then went off to another restaurant, where we had more food and drinks. Then we went to karaoke, where I sat next to a nice girl who kept touching my thigh and saying what a good singer I was. Of course, I don’t like to brag, but it’s probably fair to say that after a few beers I have the voice of an angel.
At some point, I checked my phone, and Holy Crap, there was a text from Ichiro. I hadn’t heard from the guy in like two years. He’s this Japanese dude I knew in the States, and now he was in Japan.
“In Tokyo for one night,” said the message. “Meet me in Ueno.”
“I gotta go,” I said to the nice girl.
“Just one more song,” she pleaded. “You’ve got the voice of an angel.”
“Well, if you insist. Just one.”
So after another two hours of singing and ten more beers, I finally caught the train to Ueno. It was about eleven at night. I fell asleep a little on the way, and probably slumped over onto the guy next to me, which was fortunate because he elbowed me in the ribs and I woke up just in time to dash off the train before the doors closed.
I met Ichiro on the street, and I could tell he was already plastered, which is loosely defined as anyone equally or more intoxicated than myself.
“Let’s go to karaoke!” he said.
“Sounds great,” I replied, and we started looking for girls.
We found three reasonably attractive ladies walking down the street. “Let’s go to karaoke,” we said, and they looked at each other briefly, then off we went.
Now, of course, we had the problem that there were two of us and three girls, but in our usual fashion Ichiro and I chose to immediately make matters worse by deciding that we both liked the same girl. So we sat on either side of her, sang songs, drank a ton of beer, and sounded, honestly, horrible. Must’ve been something wrong with the acoustics of the room or something. Then every time Ichiro’d go to the bathroom, I’d whisper sweet words in her ear that sounded to me like, “Splendid evening, is it not? I say, if you’re free this weekend, why don’t we go for a cruise on my yacht?” but came out more like, “D’I ever tell ya ha cute ya’are?” And every time I came back from the bathroom, I’d find Ichiro slobbering all over her, trying to whisper something in her other ear. It was a pretty typical evening, in other words.
Sleeping in Karaoke Booths
As it got around five a.m. we were all pretty much passed out in the karaoke booth. I looked at Ichiro, who was slumped in corner. He was a wreck. The three girls had repositioned themselves in a protective formation and were all sleeping against one another, like pioneers circling wagon trains. Once in a while somebody’d wake up and sing half a song or call for another drink or an order of fries, but we were all pretty shattered. Eventually Ichiro crawled across the bench toward me.
“I gotta meet a client this morning,” he said.
“When?” I asked.
“Eight. I think.”
“Now’s probably a good time to go,” I said.
We all went down to the lobby and Ichiro and I paid the bill, which came to about 250 bucks. Karaoke can be either really cheap, or really expensive, and this time wasn’t cheap.
The girls, of course, offered to pay nothing. The thing about Japanese girls is that they just want to be entertained. They live out in the boonies of Saitama and Chiba, and once a month get all dolled up and come to Tokyo hoping to do something out of the ordinary, like going to a game center, taking purikura photos, or eating French food. The degree to which they’re interested in you is exactly proportional to the amount of such amusement you can provide. It’s a little transactional like that. Anyway, we all exchanged numbers, the girls disappeared into the dawn, and I flagged down a taxi for Ichiro.
It’s rare that you see a guy so drunk that he can’t get into a taxi, but apparently it can happen. It took a while for Ichiro to remember what hotel he was at, but eventually the car door closed and he called out, “Thanks, Ken-san!”
“See you in two more years,” I said.
He later emailed me to say that the first words out of his client’s mouth were, “You smell like booze.” Ah, good times.
Sleeping on Trains
I walked to the station through the gray Sunday morning and got on the train. Suddenly I was tired. It was only about 20 minutes back to my station, but I managed to fall asleep, and when I woke up I was at the end of the line, in Saitama.
I got off the train, walked around to the other side, got back on, and fell asleep again. When I woke up, I was in Ueno. Shit. I got off the train, walked around, and got back on. This time, for sure, I was determined to stay awake and get home.
Years ago, I was riding a train with a foreign friend of mine, and across from us, the entire row of Japanese people was asleep. Like ten individuals, all looking like an ad for NyQuil.
“They’re rocked to sleep by the gentle motion of the rails,” he observed. That seemed an excellent example of how two people can see the exact same thing and reach two vastly different conclusions. Everyone in this nation’s butt-tired, is how I would’ve described it.
Naturally, I passed out and woke up in Saitama again. Then rode back in and woke up in Ueno again. In all, it took me five times to make it home, back to my comfy wafer thin futon in my steaming hot apartment. Of course, by then, I wasn’t tired at all, so I just had a couple of cold malt liquors, watched a bit of Japanese TV, and texted the girl from the night before. I can’t exactly recall what she looks like, but anyway, if she ever gets back to me, maybe I can take her out and entertain her some more. Probably go to a French restaurant, take a few purikura photos, and of course sing some karaoke, since I know she likes that.