The Art of Making Friends

Having Ryan around was something I wouldn’t be able to appreciate for a couple of days. He had been in Japan for quite some time now, learning the language and becoming familiar with the transportation system. He was an excellent navigator to say the least. In five minutes, after purchasing my first beverage from one of Japan’s millions of vending machines, we had purchased rail tickets from undecipherable machines and were waiting for a train to take us to Tokyo Station.

Ryan was in the JET program, teaching school children how to speak English properly. “The job is cake,” he said, “I literally sit in a classroom a few times a day, helping the teacher pronounce more difficult words.”

He did less than a TA and got set up with a cheap apartment, a free rental car, and made around 3,000 US dollars a month, which after spending two nights with him, I was fairly confident was spent on boozing and picking up Japanese chicks.

I looked into JET related programs later. They really are awesome programs. If you were to get involved in one, your primary responsibility would be to speak English to the students so that they can acquire an ear for spoken English.

Most Japanese go through English lessons during school. However, without context for how it sounds without a Japanese accent, their little mastery of the English language usually leaves them frustrated when trying to converse with native English speakers.

In fact, I found that many Japanese can read and comprehend English quite well—a useful tactic when trying to get information from them. That’s why the JET program makes sense and is actually showing results. And contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to speak a lick of Japanese to get the job.

Eric and Ryan talked about going out during most of the ride. Eric couldn’t wait to meet Japanese girls, practically humping the seat in front of him at the thought of getting one back to his room that night. Ryan kept him very optimistic with stories of his endeavors.

“Gaijin,” he explained, “don’t need to work very hard to score pussy in this country. Girls literally approach white guys in bars and practically come out and say they’ll fuck you—if they are interested of course.”

Eric was drooling.

“You don’t even need to buy them drinks.”

I’ll admit, even I was curious as to how well his claims would hold water.

“Really?” Eric asked, puppy-eyed.

“Why do you think I booked us a hotel walking distance from Roppongi—the Gaijin friendly capital of Japan?” Ryan slapped Eric on the back. In my head, Eric was crying as if God had spoken promises of his salvation. That night we would find out for ourselves.

The hotel was nice. We were on the ground level, and the closest room to a fire exit which we used for our nightly escapes. I was more concerned about the bathroom of course. I closed my eyes and opened the door. My eyelids lifted… A NORMAL WESTERN TOILET!!!

We had a wraparound deck, of sorts, that overlooked our narrow street in Akasaka. Eric made use of it most when he smoked. He could have smoked in the room, contrary to smoking laws in America, but he chose not to to be fair to the non-smokers. They each had a double bed and I slept on a row of furniture: one mini love seat and the two room chairs. We napped before heading out into the city’s night.

It was much cooler in the evening. That afternoon, when we first stepped out into the Tokyo streets, it was like walking into a brick wall. It was so humid and the air so heavy that it felt difficult to breathe. I never quite got used to it, and it was but a small sample of the weather that I would be experiencing the majority of my trip.

I sweat so much some days I soaked through my clothes in hours, needing to wash them every few days because there was no ignoring the smell I emitted. I would even sweat waiting for buses under their stops’ shaded canopies.

But at night, conditions were much more bearable. The heat dropped significantly, and the humidity didn’t act so tough without it—ppssssh punk-bitch.

Where we would be walking aimlessly around that night.

It was easy to tell when we had reached Roppongi. The streets were lit up like Times Square and the neighborhood resembled Broadway, except that all the theaters were replaced with strip clubs and hostess bars. The only thing missing was the rumored slew of people.

The only signs of life were tourist vultures that preyed on obvious foreigners, hoping to lead them by the wrists into super expensive clubs, hostess and titty bars.

“Titties and beer, man. Titties and beer. Let me ask you something. Where are you heading tonight, man? I know a great place.”

They were Nigerians—bottom feeding illegal immigrants of the Yakuza food chain (or so I was told). These persistent bastards would literally walk with their arms around our shoulders, jabbering something about getting free peaks or a free drink until they reached the end of their turf where someone else was already waiting for his turn to pitch his bigger titties and cheaper beer.

The best ways we learned to deal with them were to pretend to have a destination and know exactly where we are going or by messing with them. The first method is easy; just point at a bar in sight and say were going to Wall Streets. The second method is much more fun.

We developed a game after much frustration that involved having some way to misdirect the Nigerians, or scare them off. Ryan tried speaking Spanish, but they were efficient and could collectively speak any language at each street corner. So we had to be clever.

My personal best was turning to one who was pitching free titties and asking in a gay lisp if he knew anyplace with free cock and balls. When I got his full attention, I lightly tickled the arm he was dragging me by with my forefinger. I never saw one of those Nigerians turn so white.

After about a half hour of scouring Roppongi for a decent dive, we settled on an Irish themed pub. I didn’t mind too much, considering they were offering European beers that I had not seen since my studies in England, actually had some people in it, and offered free internet.

This is also where we met our—easily mistakable for dykes—NAVY friends, Lindsay and Caroline.

Eric and Ryan immediately gravitated toward them, indulging in conversation about being from the south, music, and sports. I was still checking emails and facebook, while perusing the list of imported beers. I settled on a Kronenbourg, a tasty French beer (I know, I didn’t think the French had beer either).

Once I got my pint, I tried to immerse myself in conversation so as not to become that third—sorry—fifth wheel. The girls grabbed my attention when they said they were pilots that flew NAVY planes, intercepting messages from North Korea.

Being pilots meant they were also officers and at least 3 years in, having also received their wings. These chicks were older than any of us. We didn’t have much to relate to. Conversation got light and Eric invited them to join us on our quest to find more exciting bars.

The guys, Lindsay (left) and Caroline (right)

We dodged the Nigerians and made our way to Wall Streets. It was pricey but there were a lot more people here. Ryan and Lindsay hit it off pretty well. We all had bought each other drinks and tried to keep conversation loose and friendly, but Ryan was pretty set on Lindsay—it probably had been a while since he flirted with a white girl. I was especially sure of it when, after I had danced with her for a bit, Ryan casually made his way over to me and slipped in a comment about “being into her.”

This was a passive-aggressive way of marking his territory. I mean, it would have only been more obvious to me, if he had whipped out his penis and peed on her. But guy code still existed among American “bros” even in foreign lands. I reassured him that I wasn’t interested, by saying, “You should go for it man. I’m sure you could use a break from Japanese girls.”

This created an interesting dichotomy in the group—Ryan/Lindsay and Eric/Caroline/me. I didn’t feel sexually threatened, honestly I could give two shits about these girls because I had someone back home, but the problem was if Eric started pursuing Caroline, well, I’d be pretty bored for the rest of the night. Luckily, Caroline was a greedy little attention whore.

The rest of our time at Wall Streets, she kept things casual between the both of us. She told me about her efforts as a children’s author when I mentioned my desire to be a professional writer. We talked a lot after making that connection.

Eric began to think he was losing ground. He even at one point pulled me to the side and asked me if I wanted her, potentially sealing the last nail in his coffin.

According to guy code—“Thou shall not interfere in thy bro’s chance of getting laid” (commandment 3 or whatever)—I could have called dibs right then and  there to seal deal. His question was kind of his way to assess his chances now that he figured he was in an uphill battle for dominance.

I said, “No.” The playing field leveled itself out.

We ventured out again and settled on the First Bar—not the bar we went to first—this bar was named the First Bar, which I know is confusing as hell, especially when it is that last bar we visited that evening. It was next to the first bar, not itself, but the Irish pub we had visited first. Even more confusing, I know. I’ll stop now.

The First Bar was actually a really fun time. At last, we had found some Japanese socialites and a cool ambiance. There were people dancing, playing darts, and drinking shots all around. We joined the party soon enough.

Caroline started “Icing” us. Icing is the art of forcing a man to chug girly drinks to retain something of his masculinity. It’s usually done between two bros, but I guess a girl could do it to a guy.

Us being "Iced" oh and some Japanese dude who has no idea what we're doing.

By simply presenting a guy with a “girly” drink, such as a Smirnoff Ice (or some other drink that’s equally stereotyped), he would have to get down on one knee and chug the whole bottle with a hand on his hip. For some reason, this was the only way to drink such an alcoholic beverage so as not to sprout a vagina—or so superstition leads us to believe…

Anyway, it was clear Caroline was trying to loosen both of us up. She definitely got more flirty at this point, enough that Ryan made the effort to point out how much “This bitch is juggling the both of us (you) around.” I nodded and Eric agreed. He even said something along the lines of, “Screw this chick, let’s hang out with some of these Japanese girls.” I had no reason to object.

Eric and I wandered over to a group of Japanese playing darts. The girls of the group pulled us in and asked us to make throws. At this point, I was finding the double helix of a dart board hard to focus on. I held my breath. “Hey! It landed on the board.”

They laughed, covering their mouths. I noticed that most Japanese girls cover their mouths when they laugh. I’m not quite sure why that is.

After two more miserable attempts, Eric took the lead in pulling one of the girls onto the dance floor. I took a girl in a zebra-printed dress—honestly the only detail I can recall about her. Couldn’t tell you how well or poorly I danced either… the Icings.

After a single dance, we rejoined our friends to see that the harmony of the group had taken a turn for the worse. Ryan and Lindsay were making out. Good. But Caroline, well, she wasn’t too happy  being deprived of the attention that she desperately craved or was probably used to, being a female officer in the NAVY and all. She literally tore Lindsay’s face off Ryan’s and demanded that they leave because, she argued, “it was time to go.” Selfish bitch.

Our fun ended shortly after. We finished off our drinks and hit the streets again. At this point, I was so hammered that the lights of Roppongi were accelerated blurs as we worked our way back to the hotel.

I managed myself well all night, but I drew the short straw when Eric and I had to decide who would drink Caroline’s Long Island Iced Tea that we had just bought her before she decided to leave. I remember the sun coming up by the time we reached our hotel. I wrapped myself in a Kimono and didn’t wake up until that evening.

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