Those of you who have been following the recent bumper misadventures here in the House of Panda (if not, here’s Part I, and Part II) probably thought that things were over. I know I did – after all, the old bastard demanded (and received) an entire new bumper for what all acknowledged was a superficial bit of paint damage. I ended up out a $1000 USD, with a jacked up insurance premium and a raging headache caused by constantly restraining myself from kicking down the crotchety muppet’s doors and beating the shit out of him with his old bumper.
would be even lovelier without the crack on the screen…
When all was said and done, however, I just swallowed it all in, took (quite a few) deep breaths and resigned myself to let it pass with a muttered “that’s Japan for you“. No indignant protests, no angry letters, no keying of his car in the middle of the night (I seriously debated it) and no physical ass kickings. Just letting it go.
Why, then, I wondered was my phone currently going off on my desk, the caller ID displaying the name of my insurance man?
I pick up the phone.
“Hi Panda. This is DG, your insurance man. How are you?”
“Fine, I guess. Umm, what’s up?”
“Well, I am just calling to let you know that we finished replacing the man’s bumper. The total cost was 120,000yen (~$1200 USD). I just wanted to check again if you wanted to pay that all yourself.”
This is mistar deathcrab. I debated putting things in the old man’s cake (see below) to exact my revenge. Initially I was going to go with arsenic, but decided that a robotic killer crab with sharpened claws trained to kill from the inside out would be more satisfying. Now I just need to find tiny titanium claws somewhere…
I check my pocket.
“Shoot, sorry DG, but I’m all out of $1200 USD bills at the moment.”
He’s confused. American humor often doesn’t fare well in the translation to Japanese.
“Uhh, never mind. I’ll just use the insurance I guess.”
“Okay.” I can hear him scribbling something down in the background.
“Well, thanks for calling- ” I begin, eager to finish the conversation. I actually really like talking to him, but at the moment, I feel a big dull weight in the pit of my stomach due to being remind of the injustice of it all.
He clears his throat. Clearly there’s more to this phone call. Uh-oh.
“Ano… there is one more small thing…” he begins.
“Yes?” My stomach begins to twist in knots, and I suddenly feel my old violent impulses re-awakening.
“Well… it seems that [the old bastard] is very upset and angry with you…”
I begin to choke. In the reflection in the window glass I see that my cheeks are flushing a deep, heart-attack purple.
“h-h-he w-wha-ah-…!?!” The blood rushing to my face has closed off my throat so much all I can do is manage an incoherent stammer.
“Yes, well he was complaining about you to me and also to his insurance agent. He is very angry because he said you didn’t have an ‘apologetic face’ and you didn’t apologize to him about the accident…”
Before you all ask, no, that is not the name of my insurance company. I faked this screen shot using hi-tech pandar skills.
“HE SAID WHAT?!!?” my voice fights its way through my constricted vocal cords and erupts into the phone. “ I APOLOGIZED TO HIM THE MOTHERFU-“
I struggle for a second to force myself to calm down and start speaking in Japanese in again – it’s not poor DG’s fault and I don’t want to shoot the messenger.
“Um, DG, I did apologize to him, profusely. I even apologized on the note which I wrote him! I apologized to him in front of you!”
I leave out the part that he is a greedy, selfish, racist old fuck of a man who was taking advantage of me by demanding a brand new $1200 bumper for tiny bit of paint damage. A bumper that will cost me half a months wages and force me into a higher insurance bracket for the next three years. An evil asshole of a human being who cares more about his car than another person’s well being, who only sought to twist the situation to get as much profit for himself as he could possible lay his peeling, gray geriatric flesh covered skeletons fingers upon. A man whom I seriously considered hitting in the face with a metal shovel every time I walk into my parking lot and see his new fucking bumper. A man whom I feel should apologize to me for being such a greedy selfish shit and for draining me for everything he could.
Unaware (blissfully) of my internal soliloquy, DG continues.
“Yes, I know. But it doesn’t satisfy him, apparently. He has been complaining to everybody about the fact that you did not seem sorry.”
The bile is at the back of my throat now. I can feel it burning its way along the bend of my esophagus, acrid waves flashing across the sensitive rear edge of my tongue, salivary glands leaping into full alarmed response, coating the lining of my cheeks and molars with protective liquid in case I have to vomit or more likely, suddenly breath an incinerating cone of fire from my mouth in the direction of this geriatric fucker’s face.
I wish for a second that pandas could actually breath fire, or at the very least, spit acid like an Alien.
“What does he want me to do, DG?” I ask, voice emerging in ragged constricted packets.
“Well, he said he wants you to bring him an apology gift. Specifically he said he wants you to give him a cake or something. So I think perhaps you should go to his house and bring him a cake.”
I absolutely lose it.
“A CAKE…!??! THE MOTHERFUCKER WANTS A A MOTHERFUCKING CAKE!?!! HE WANTS ME TO BRING HIM A GOD DAMN MOTHERFUCKING SON OF A FUCKING FUCK HE WANTS A FUCKING CAKE!? WHAT THE FUCK!? WHAT IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST IN THE FUCK – H-H-HE WANTS A FREAKITY FUCKING MOTHERFUCKING CAKE!?“
Dead silence in the room. Nary a peep from DG’s end.
“THE CUNT MOTHERFUCKER WANTS A FUCKING CAKE?! HOW ABOUT AN ASS KICKING!? I’LL FUCKING GO TO HIS FUCKING HOUSE AND BRING HIM A MOTHERFUCKING ASS KICKING THAT’S WHAT THE FUCK I’LL BRING HIM!! A ‘SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU SELFISH FOOL’ MOTHERFUCKING PIECE OF ASS KICKING CAKE…! I’LL STUFF THAT CAKE SO FAR DOWN HIS MOTHERFUCKING THROAT HE’LL CHOKE ON IT AND DIE..!!!
WHAT THE FUCK!?
WHAT THE FUCK!?
A FUCKING CAKE……………!!!????
sexy mobile phone tech porn…
There is dead silence in the room. My hands are shaking and even the palms and wrists are flushed a deep, angry purple. My entire body is clenched and beads of sweat are breaking out across my forehead. My throat is ragged and on fire and I realize it is so clenched and constricted that most of my words came out a nothing more than a series of hoarse incomprehensible utterances. I’ve broken past the normal range, past the falsetto and into a hitherto unbeknownst vocal domain of rage literally manifest.
“Ano…” I realize with a start that DG is still on the line. No doubt he doesn’t know what just happened as all he probably heard was just a series of apoplectic choked gurgles. I give a silent thanks that I was in the private counseling room doing my work when the phone call came instead of the normal staffroom.
“Panda? Are you still there? Hello?” DG sounds worried. I suck in all my breath and stare intently at the uniform wall and the outstretched fields of unbroken snow just outside the window, trying to force the bile down by blanking my retinas and overwhelming my rage with oblique whiteness.
“Yes, sorry DG. The uhh.. reception cut out for a second.” A bald faced lie, but I’m hoping he didn’t hear too much of my outburst.
“Oh, okay…” My ploy worked – either he couldn’t hear anything but gurgles or else he’s lying to be polite and preserve the wa of our mutual fiction. I like Japan that way sometimes.
“So then, panda, if you want, I can go with you. I think that way I can help apologize for you and we can try to satisfy him and make him stop complaining.”
His offer is gracious and completely out of the ordinary – it’s not normal for your insurance man to go with you to apologize to a withered crust of a bastardly old man, but DG is an stand out guy. I assent.
“That will great DG… Thanks. I’ll consult with my friend about what kind of -” I choke on the word – “cake I should get him, then I’ll give you a call next week, okay?”
more cell phone porn shots. looks so nice when you can see the crack on the screen!
A few more kind words, then we hang up the phone. I’m left sitting alone in the dark, chilly air of the room I’m in, right next to the insulated window yet shaking with rage. A million things race through my mind, most of them ways of murdering this old man without getting caught. There is no doubt that he is taking advantage of me (presents are not usually given in apology unless you injure the other party, a fact which I confirmed with several Japanese co-workers, who agreed he was trying to take advantage (どさくさに紛れる: dosakusa magireru) of the situation), and it’s the fact that he asked for a cake – a fucking CAKE!!! by name…! that ultimately pushed me over the edge. Talk about adding insult to injury or slapping a motherfucker in the face. A cake. Anything but a cake. Jesus Christ.
This situation illustrates one of the ironies underlying Japan’s push towards “internationalization”, chiefly the fact that everyone assumes that the push for globalization needs to come from the bottom up – the children, the college students, the young 20-somethings, etc.. To this end Japan throws a countless amount of money at the “problem” with things like JET program designed to introduce thousands (and I mean thousands) of foreigner teachers into Japan every year. The idea, at least how it’s pitched to prospect foreign participants, is that by placing foreigners in schools and communities across the nation – particularly in rural towns who may never otherwise encounter non-Japanese – somehow, magically, “grassroots internationalization” will occur. Children will grow up speaking (and loving) English, populaces will clamor around their new gaijin
monkeys residents and suddenly Japan will become this multi-cultural progressive minded utopia it already half-imagines itself to be.
The sad reality of the situation, however, as most of us find out the second we step off the boat, is that the children and young people are already internationalized…! Sure, you get the occasional stares and uneducated remarks from the really young children and the country bumpkins, but by and large, young Japanese are remarkably familiar (I wouldn’t go so far as to say “versed”) with the outside world and “foreigners” as a concept. The real issue, is that it’s the old people who need to be internationalized, and unfortunately, they are the ones who have exactly the least amount of interest in the idea.
In particular, old Japanese men – the accursed oyajis whom anybody (including other non-oyaji Japanese) who has ever set foot in Japan has grown to hate, are the among the most uneducated, overbearing, selfish, close minded and racist people you will ever have the displeasure of meeting. (Did I mention perverse and lecherous?) Unfortunately, as the people who run the country, we find that their dramatic shortcomings have thunderous repercussions on all of us who have to live under the whims of their system.
Truth be told, you will be hard pressed to find someone who has something good to say about old Japanese men (and yes, standard disclaimer, it depends on the person, but still, as a whole…) – Japanese roll their eyes and sigh heavily when you mention them, young women resign themselves to living under the yoke of their sexist attitude and foreigners…! Most foreigners hate them up and down, since 9 times out of 10, it’s the oyajis who make our lives the most miserable, whether as our bosses, mid-level bureaucrats pointlessly fucking with our paperwork, as perverted fellow train-riders groping our breasts (if you’re a woman) or making lewd remarks about the size of our cocks (if you’re a man), or even just as the greedy selfish fuck bastards whose car you had the misfortune of bumping into. It is my sincere opinion that so much of the pointlessness, irrelevance, waste, misery and above all – inertia in everyday Japanese life can be traced back directly to these old men with their single track minds, spurious demands and fierce resistance to change.
A few years ago when I was studying abroad in Tokyo, I lived in an apartment with a French guy who had been in Japan for quite a few years. He was a nice guy, sort of artsy and booksy (hey, he was French), but had carved out a rather successful niche for himself and always seemed to be doing alright on all fronts – financially, emotionally, woman wise (I repeat: he was French), etc.
a piece of cake the old man will not be getting. I bought it to cheer myself up.
Late one night I stopped in the common room to find him and another French guy deep in discussion. When I asked him what was up, he said that he had decided to go back to France the next month for good.
“What?!” I remember exclaiming. He was so successful, and professed to love Japan so. Why on earth the sudden decision?
“Panda, I’ll tell you something – ” he began. “I love Japan very much, as I said to you. I love the culture, the food, the city (Tokyo), I love the children I teach, I love my friends and I love the woman very much. But I will tell you something I hate and that is these fucking oyajis. Them I cannot stand, I hate them so. I cannot stay here forever because they make my life miserable so much so.”
“What’s an oyaji?” It was the first time I had ever heard the term. From the vehement way in which he spat it out (combined with an English curse word, very rare for him), I must have stumbled upon some great hidden Japanese secret.
“Oyaji? They are … in English you say ‘old man’.”
“Fucking old fuckers” chimed in a passing Australian making his way out the door.
“They are fucking old men, panda, and I hate them with all the fiber of my being. They are the most wretched inconsiderate – ” At this point he broke into a long stream of very desultory sounding French.
“But Rumarc” I began, the devil’s advocate in my all whirred up and ready to go. “seriously, they aren’t that bad! I mean, I know a few old Japanese men, but they were okay…!”
“Panda, I will tell you this. You believe what you want, but if you stay here long enough, one day you will understand what I say.”
And you know what? Sitting here, staring at my measly budget trying to figure out how to fit in a cake for that selfish fucker of an old bastard, I finally understand what my French roommate was trying to tell me so many years ago.
It’s sad that that power in Japan rests firmly in the hands of this “good-old boys” network of old Japanese men. I am not so worried about the rest of Japanese – I think they’ll do just fine when it’s time for them to take over. The only problem is that for now, we have to wait for all the firmly entrenched old fuckers to die off first, before Japan can move on.
And Japanese men live a very, very long time.
Unless they wake up one night to find a stranger dressed in black stuffing cake down their throat while screaming “you want some cake now bitch? huh!? you want some cake…!??
Now listening to: “Air – La femme d’argent”
In honor of my friend Rumarc, who burned me a copy of this CD before he left to go back to France. I wish I had taken the time to get to know him better back then. He was such a worldly guy…