I was feeling like such a sucker after my little run in with trance music and 6000 yen two nights ago that the beau and I fled to Saitama in search of cheaper pleasures. Yes, that Saitama, just across the border from Tokyo but the atmosphere of which feels several thousand kilometres away, and a little further than I am comfortable going without a car and the promise of making it back to my Tokyo playground whenever I've had enough. While my original statement is not entirely true (we were actually visiting the restaurant that the beau's brother cooks for), when it was all said and done we spent about half of what we would have spent going out in Tokyo.
If you've ever had enough of living in a big city in Japan and wonder where your rockstar status has gone, go to the countryside and you will feel like you've just landed in Japan for the first time again. I discussed my hair colour, the length of my nose and disclosed whether I was wearing mascara or not with no less than five people in the course of the night. I was asked whether I had any blond gaijin friends I could introduce twice. I listened to the restaurant's attractive and buff owner talk about how he has wanted to get a "taste" (I didn't confirm whether he was speaking literally or not) of a foreign women ever since he was young and in the next breath disclose that he is married, but his wife gives him the freedom to do as he pleases, once.
After the restaurant closed we went off into the dark Saitama night (and it is dark) to see what other delights we could sample. We ended up at a cute local counter bar where the native Saitamians welcomed the beau and my white ass with open arms. I even had the mama-san of a local snack calling me "daughter" by the end of the evening. I love Saitama, I thought as I tipped back my third vodka ricky. Put me in the countryside with a bunch of locals who treat me like a rare zoo animal and I know how to pimp my foreignness-I was truly in my element last night.
All good things must come to an end however, and when the bar closed at 3 things started to go downhill and account for the reason I will forever think of Saitama as Dasaitama* (if you are living in Saitama and reading this, I'm not talking about you, you're fabulous).
We made it down the street and into the brother's apartment, which was a surprisingly tiny bachelor's pad (I thought the one trade off of living in Saitama was the space). He claimed to be hungry and said he would have some food "dropped off" and then proceeded into the bathroom to make a phone call. OK I thought, who might be bringing us food? He assured me earlier in the evening that he no longer had a girlfriend (that 19 year-old from New Year's up north is long gone) so I was not sure who we could be expecting. On a side note, the brother also mentioned that he had a "driver" who could take us back to Tokyo by car if we wanted, something I found a little suspect.
Imagine my surprise when 15 minutes later, the woman with the great laugh who was sitting next to me at the bar shows up with bags of conbini goodies and more alcohol. Well, well, well. I had to elbow the beau to keep him from saying something because I could see him giving the brother and her the shifty eye and putting two and two together. Although probably correct, that particular equation didn't seem to add up to either of us. I've mentioned before that the brother has a loli-con and we haven't seen him with anyone who looks like they've hit puberty, well, ever. And this lovely woman was at least the brother's age and twice his size. In fact, I believe the beau later used the word "busu" to describe her, which while not nice, is unfortunately true when compared to his previous girlfriends. That's right, I had come face to face with the elusive "sex friend" in Japan. Yes I could be getting my signals crossed and it certainly wouldn't be the first time but let's consider the evidence: she got a call asking her to bring over food after she had gone home and she did; she warmed up the food for the brother without being asked; she knew where all the blankets were kept; she didn't scold the brother for falling asleep as soon as she arrived but was clearly happy when the beau did. All I could think was, That poor woman. The brother is most definitely not being straight with her.
But I digress! For after the beau started to fall asleep she left me sitting wide awake watching some alien movie with Keanu and drinking all the half-finished beers in the hope it would either put me to sleep or 5am would roll around so I could get the hell out of town. My crank level was rapidly starting to rise, especially after I had time to consider the fact that I could not take my contacts out, I had strong-armed the beau into agreeing to take a taxi home to Tokyo earlier in the evening and yet I was stuck in a small shitty room in Saitama with the beau and his brother, the latter of which was snoring up a fucking hurricane. I was also wearing some of the brother's clothes, which I felt weird about and couldn't wait to get back in my dress and my city.
As 5 started to roll around I frantically woke the beau and told him we were leaving. Now. He was sleeping the sleep of a drunk and I started to get tearful as I pleaded with him to wake up, please, because I can't sleep here and we need to get back to Tokyo. The panic started to set in, what if I had to stay there awake and alone for a few more hours until the beau could get up?! And with that my adrenalin must have kicked in because I managed to get the beau up and out the door into the hazy Saitama morning. Although the trains were running I had absolutely no idea where we were so my only goal was to find a taxi. How naive of me, there was nothing resembling a car for as far as my eyes could see. At this point the beau decided he was hungry and so we went to a family restaurant across the street where I made some bad decisions that resulted in me eating a hambaga and rice at 5.30 a.m. and immediately wishing I had the guts to stick my finger down my throat.
Outside the restaurant I began to unravel. Still no sign of a taxi or a station so I began to argue with the beau on the way to what we had been told was a distant train station. Looking around at the industrial wasteland and cursing the fact that there were no taxis I couldn't stop the words coming out of my mouth. Nor could I stop myself from giving the shit eye to every old man and high school couple that couldn't tear their eyes away from the blond in leopard print heels clicking down the sidewalk in a funk and arguing with a man in shrill Japanese. I was at that point seriously convinced that Saitama was conspiring against me by taking away all the taxis and trains and giving me kilometers of concrete sidewalk. About halfway down the sidewalk to infinity I started to laugh at how stupid we were, getting stuck in Saitama with the brother and his sex friend and then not being able to find a train to save our lives and in general just being Tokyo snobs, and just as we put our arms around each other in a show of solidarity, a train station materialized as if from a mirage and we discovered we were 79 minutes from Tokyo. My bed has never felt as close to heaven as it did at 8 o'clock this morning after I managed to get my contacts out which had as good as welded themselves to my eyeballs.
Needless to say I won't be going back to Saitama for a while, at least not without a map, the number for a local taxi service and a list of love hotels.
*Dasaitama is a friendly nickname we Tokyoites have for Saitama, which combines the word dasai (uncool) and Saitama, and you get the general picture.