Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas at the Kaisha

I don't know what first comes to your mind when I say "Christmas at the Kaisha" but I'd imagine half-naked men, women in schoolgirl uniforms and sequined hot pants aren't exactly top of the list. You know, I actually had men in speedos come to mind after last year's debacle but the head honchos (side note: did you know "honcho" came to English from Japanese?) at the Kaisha really outdid themselves this year.

Apart from the lovely buffet spread that included a teppanyaki station and open bar that readily supplied me with copious amounts of champagne, the Kaisha made sure the program was so chock-full of entertainment we never had to worry about talking to one another. I guess I should probably tell you how I was involved at this point. The planning committee puts together a video every year to be played at the party and this year's theme was Sex & the City. I lent my voice as the Carrie voice-over that narrates the whole thing, and the rest of the people in the video were all men. I've got to say, the four Professionals who played the girls in drag made some pretty fine ladies after all the make-up, wigs and dresses borrowed from someone's drag queen friend.

And that was just the beginning of it all. At some Japanese companies, there is a strong tendency to make first-year employees do humiliating things at company drinking parties and so on but at the Kaisha we like to up the ante so to speak, and do our shaming and humiliating on a much grander scale at the Christmas party every year. Aside from a few "musical performances" including a Professional in drag as a very ugly Beyonce, the male Professionals all wore nothing but little white shorts and white hachimaki and did some dance/exercise performance that I didn't understand due to my lack of cultural reference. This was followed by some J-pop song with a few secretaries in sequin skirts and 2 female Professionals in black sequined hot pants stripper-dancing all over the stage. I was half-expecting some kind of Thai ping-pong act to follow but luckily it was just a huge group of around 50 first-year Professionals and secretaries dressed in schoolgirl uniforms doing some Sailor Moon dance that required them to affix permanent manic grins to their faces and waves their arms around while twirling. Only in Japan. I'm sure such a performance would probably warrant some kind of lawsuit overseas but in Japan there was just a lot of clapping and hidden boners.

Yes, in Japan we not only humiliate the first year employees but turn women with professional degrees and educations who have come to actually work into sex objects because glitter and bare legs make them so much easier to deal with! In fact, I'm sure it is these humiliating performances and experiences that cause employees at Japanese companies to become so tight-knit with the others in their "year" and everyone looks upon them more as bonding experiences than anything else. If this is the case, I wish they had signed me up! If all it took was some sequined booty shorts to get in tight with people at the Kaisha, I would have done the fucking choreography myself!

Not many people came out of the woodwork this year to introduce themselves to me and I was almost disappointed when I didn't get lectured by a Top Professional on how I should be dating a man with lots of money, a degree from Waseda or Keio and a high powered job like last year. This was the same guy who once when asking what my type was followed it up by saying, Well as long as he's younger than your father right?! Riiiiight. Really though, only if he name is Ken Watanabe and he is wearing a sword.

I did make an effort though to make nice conversation with Mr. Inappropriate Comment from last month and appear super nice and smiley around all the snaky secretaries, because really, I can wait to January to continue my grudges. I was all too aware that the Christmas party is truly a once-a-year opportunity for everyone at the Kaisha to peep the 0.0141 percent of foreigners employed there and analyze our native dress, customs and eating habits. I played along fabulously until I spotted someone I knew who would give me a cigarette. I believe I may have mentioned that no women (or a number so small it is negligible) use the smoking rooms at the Kaisha and while statistically some of the secretaries have got to be smokers, they weren't having any of it at the Christmas party. There was a small smoking pit outside the banquet room of the hotel and a small congregation of male Professionals could be found there throughout the evening. However, as the party progressed I cared less and less if people saw me having a smoko so I marched over there and got one. This gave me instant cred among some of the smoker Professionals but I'm sure the secretaries now have another bullet as ammo against me.

I will write another post later about the after party and its after party but for now let's leave it strictly on the Kaisha turf. I can hardly wait for next year! After this year's party though, I'm more convinced than ever that the party is thrown just for the secretaries. I mean come on, they are the ones crowding the buffet tables and orgasming over the desserts, wearing prom dresses and sparkles in their hair, and saving the glossy invitation as a memento for their grandchildren (after they get married and quit their jobs to breed of course). As I looked around the gathering of almost 1000, it was a bit like a twisted family party with the men standing around like creepy old uncles delighting in the playful and naive activities of the young girls frolicking about.

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