Today, to verify my virility, my ability to voraciously vilify those foes who would unwoeful wax skeptic of my Vitruvian nature, I was informed of the nomenclature I’d need to be loosely guided like radar in the direction of battery: most righteously, the nurses said, remove thine shirt, English boy, that we might X-ray up in that shit, cause are you dying or not?
In these trying times, not but the most heady rapscallions be immune to the ‘berculosis. In the Hospital Wagon Party Van, a massive RV filled with gear like I imagine They use to cause the mysterious disappearances of political ne’er-do-wells, I am inspected.
In the mother tongue of this island nation, I believe I tell them this: “Until now, I have never come to this place. It’s my first time, so please endure it.” It is a signal, a grave beacon of false pretenses. Those resonate something like this: “I understand the terminology you are using, and command the facilities to respond to it verbally, as prompted.” Such unspoken grandeur, so pompous!, shortly before I find myself–under a moment of sweaty-foreheaded duress–unable to figure out what the Japanese word sha-tsu means (PROTIP: it means shirt).
The fancy trick of this operation, prior to my inspection, was preparing a sample of my liquid waste. So that the Docs might aquire my sample, they issued me prior to my exam, by three days, a plastic envelope containing: a fold-open waxed-paper envelope, a smaller envelope with my name on it, and a little 10mL plastic bottle the kind you use to squirt barbecue sauce or mayo onto your bento, with the plastic squish resistance of Arthritis Barbie’s specially-designed turkey baster. In the States they never quite come out and say “please enter the bathroom with this Lion King Dixie cup and pee all inside it until it’s as full as a glass of Sunday-school Kool-Aid, and Japan, especially through the veil of language, did me no favors in the explanation of these three new apparati.
To personally acquire this sample, I deduce from the various diagrams, I am supposed to first open up the waxed paper envelope, then pee into it, then suck the pee out of it by squishing the bottle, putting the opening into the pee, and sucking it out like with an eye-dropper. Eye-dropper it ain’t, and I dare not underfill for fear of being required to re-fill, lord in heaven. Eventually I get it. Then I put the little bottle into the envelope with my name on it and stick it in my pocket like a pack of baseball cards, carrying it around for forty-five minutes until it’s my turn to give it to the lady, who proceeds to screw off the little lid, squirt it out into a cup right there in front of me, stick a piece of special testing strip in, and compare a variety of colors with those on a laminated chart on the table. I do not see what happens to the cup when she is done, and I make no effort to look back.
After I finish a height and weight check, an eye check, and a heartbeat examination, they take my paper from me and tell me nice work. Then I leave. I figure I’m okay, if only because they made no attempt to tell me I’m not. Not that I’d would be sure if they did.
JAPAN JAPAN BO BAPAN BANANA FANA FO FAPAN MEE MAI MO MAPAN, JAPAN
– The stupid weather, which is humid, and makes me feel like I am sleeping on blankets inside a recently drained totally enclosed dormitory swimming pool
– Yesterday’s package of bread, which I purchased as a substitute for absent hamburger buns, containing four massive slices, each heavier and thicker than Texas toast
– Creamy milk cocoa in a paper box for a hundred yen from a vending machine icy cold frosty fresh
– Apparently the 1961 downtempo Americana cornerstone song “Stand By Me” is the “image theme” for the large chain of Japanese nutteries, Mister Donut
– The Sukiya the other day was all out of the spicy sauce for their gyudon, which is just a huge load of bullshit
Last Friday, well before my health examination, I find myself, shirted and tied, inexplicably in attendence with Jessy as one of the two youngest guests at an upper-class benefit slash buffet-style dinner for Afghani children. We are the guests of a somewhat eccentric but well-regarded and extremely well-spoken Japanese man who releases better-considered English than I do. We met him as a business acquaintence through Jessy’s father–apparently they have been working together in some capacity for a while. He is like a mad scientist with an MBA. He details the varieties of what he admits are bizarre schemes that he is currently digging his nails into. One of them has to do with extracting oils from plants? I imagine him as the landlord of a 30-floor think-tank in urban Tokyo, ushering creative minds in to freewheelin’ly sip joe and put together their dreams with raw materials.
All of this is irrelevant tonight, because the first part of the show involves a man who plays classical piano with only his left hand. The whole piano with just the one hand! He isn’t tucking his right hand behind his back as he plays, or holding it up in the air all “la-dee-dah check it out ladies” or anything so at first I am not sure that is what he is doing. But then I listen carefully and catch a glance and yep sure is only just using that left hand.
I see him deftly grip a microphone in his right hand between songs anyway, which makes me for a moment entertain an exciting fantasy: that this man has full use of his right hand too and is just playing left-handed secretly to show off, be a real smug fuck all cocksure and clandestine. But it turns out he just has his nerves all bunged up in there and can’t use it for piano, so it becomes impressive and inspiring instead of just a dick move on his part. Maybe.
I ignore all of that shit later as I stuff my face with plates full of sliced prime rare beef and lamb, tempura green beans, chunks of crab and lobster meat the size of string cheese, hayashi beef stew with rice, and glasses of champagne, wine, and beer. Later, it is dessert time, and the cherries, oh god the cherries. I consider for a moment the peeing that I will be doing later on in the week, certain that I am laying the foundation for a most enviable specimen.