In Sannomiya’s Super Jankara karaoke box 332 no one can hear you scream, a literal truth, making it all the more appealing. Right thumb all painful from tapping on a tambourine, I eat a convenience store sandwich in about thirteen seconds, drink a glass of Coke spiked with snaked-in Suntory whisky, and assist as the four of us deliver the psalms: Sunday Monday Happy Days, Tuesday Wednesday Happy Days, Thursday Friday Happy Days, the weekend comes, my cycle hums, ready to race to you.
This is not the first time this has happened.
Hours ago I was witnessing the annual Kobe Shootin’-Fireworks-For-Who-Knows-Why fireworks festival over the Kobe harbor, which is to say I watched fireworks from behind a tree while surrounded by women in casual summer kimonos and men who put far less apparent effort into their appearances but still nearly universally carried purses. My purse contained five cans of beer.
Now, in Super Jankara karaoke box 332, it contains just one, which I forget even exists until I get home, following a four-a.m. conversation in completely repugnant Japanese with a female taxi driver who did not see the fireworks, and I said we saw them, a little bit, and the fare is very affordable, and she calls us handsome. The next day for me gets started at about seven-p.m., the first time of day I find myself capable of eating food.
Though the recurring theme trends toward fermented malt beverages in my mind, I gingerly note that while affected by The Vapours I have far fewer qualms about embarrassing myself completely in a foreign language. Even though my command of Japanese resembles that of a growth-impaired turnip I resort to it earlier in the week while having a look around Osaka with Brenden, and most specifically I use it to try to divine the location of a big bright busy section of town called Dotonbori, which as it turns out is totally not anywhere near where I stumble into a Lawson and say “I’m embarrassed but where is Dotonbori I don’t know.”
Thirty-seven years later we find it and are plunged mouths-first into adventure with the assistance of a guy who looks like one of my first-year baseball kids after getting married and divorced and then falling asleep in a tanning bed for ten years. He says as we are walking by “HEY WHAT’S UP!!” and I, conditioned to respond in kind to the streetwise pavement slang of my generation, issue a “what’s up” back. The response I get is one virtually the same in English and Japanese, and sounds like the word beer, and so we go for one, and it is beery.
In the bar I resort to my conversational fallbacks in much the same way that celebrities being paraded around from talk show to talk show on the promo junket retell the same stories on Conan and Kimmle, only none of the things I have to say are interesting or intentionally funny and are instead just the only things I know how to say. With command of no more than three verbs I spin a compelling tale of international intrigue: I came from America, and now, I am a teacher at a high school. My friend, he came from Canada. We like to drink beer. Today, the weather is hot. No, not here in the bar, but there, there out there it is hot. In here, don’t worry. Is that woman there your lover? No? Well, we are going.
In the NHL ’96 video game for Super Nintendo, Brenden and I are currently in command of a heavily modified Detroit Red Wings team, a team which neither of us particularly endorse or support in reality but which has the highest base statistics in this game. To start the season, we immediately create two players named after ourselves using a cheat code to turn us into 100-point dynamic gods, then release the shitty players we are replacing into free agency. Our goalies, we decide, are no good, so we create two goalies of the worst possible skill named Derp Herp and Pee Man, sign them to the Blackhawks, release Ed Belfour into free agency, and sign him. Much to our chagrin, Derp Herp is now the 33rd ranked save percentage goalie in the league, while Ed languishes near the bottom.
We are frequently terrorized by a man named Joe Sacco, who in 1995 played for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, unremarkably, and who scores on us with seven seconds to go in regulation to snatch our wins away. Sometimes, the organ plays the same song eight times in a row. After a few cold Sapporo Mystery Kanji and Hops beers, we discuss the underlying elegance of the gameplay mechanics and physics in NHL ’96 for the Super Nintendo, and ruminate on how we might reiterate this game for today’s people exactly like us. Then we eat banana cake pudding, Kobe’s delicious specialty.
EXCITING JAPANESE IS THING AND FOR TO THE
– New, limited-edition Cup Noodle, which brings back my favorite flavor Chili Tomato in three varieties: regular, with cheese, and five-spice, and adds miniature plastic Gundam models snapped onto the top of the cup, raising the price to 498 yen and being unavailable without the Gundam, as is my Chili Tomato curse
– New Spicy Grilled Chicken Cup Noodle, which does not have any Gundam livery, and which is available for the actually reasonable price of 138 yen
– The Osaka aquarium, which we went to, and where I saw really weird glowy jellyfishes that looked exactly like the Metroids in the tubes from Super Metroid and I think I know where they got That Idea
– Our trip to the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Noodle Museum, where we got to decorate and formulate our own Cup Noodle flavor (I chose standard broth with pork cubes, asparagus, cheese, and potatoes), and which may or may not be the third item on this list that involves Cup Noodle
– The arcade next to Ikuta shrine, which I basically totally forgot slash didn’t realize was even there, where we played co-op Espgaluda II and where I was completely housed by some Japanese guy at an arcade fighting game called Melty Blood, the duration of which involved me trying to kill him with two young girls dressed up like Little Red Riding Hood who fight with a mop and a frying pan
– The new Kirin commercial, which depicts baseball hero Ichiro taking a big slag of beer and then looking at the can with a facial expression of delight and/or shock so devastating that it looks like his throat is being ripped out of his ass
Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to live in Japan during the “Happy Days” of the 1950s like in the TV show, and to imagine it what I do is I take Happy Days, replace all the cast with Japanese youngsters, and then instead of Pat Morita I basically imagine Sylvester Stallone.