Nagoya Writes

December 5, 2007

The Restaurant by Reed Gage

Filed under: Gage,Issue: May 2006,Prose — usbengoshi @ 5:40 pm
Tags: ,

“What a view it must be today!” exclaims Patrick with his usual youth-like exuberance. He was obviously high from being in the company of Michiko and Kayako, his cute and devoted young Yoga students, who had followed him after class to the local Hisayadori Starbucks to try out their broken English and try on some American (actually Canadian) culture.

“Yeah!” We three exclaimed. I was with them as I had reserved this Sunday afternoon to meet Patrick at Starbucks to catch up on things. Patrick has been a friend of mine since we met at the Sahaj Marg Meditation Class on Sunday mornings several years ago.

But, back to the restaurant story. “We need a place where we can scope out this view,” I echo. “It’s so crisp and windy today, we can probably see all the way to Mie if we can get high enough in the air.”

“I know a place,” pipes in Michiko. “Twin Towers has a place on the 18th floor, a nice place.”

“Okay, let’s go.” we chorus.

It’s a brisk and windy jaunt from Hisayadori, the three of us on foot with Kayako accompanying us on her bicycle. We ditch the bike in front of a corner bank, cross the street, and jump on the Twin Towers’ elevator to floor eighteen.

Two restaurants are in view. One is a coffee shop — jam-packed. People are lined up outside like they do in Japan when a place has some merit or at least when people are made to believe it has some merit. The alternative for us is the fancy place next door. NOBODY in there. A bored looking lady in a black suit and wearing glasses is guarding the entrance from behind a tall and foreboding podium. And just behind her, some seven or eight well-dressed arubaito-san are trying to look professional but with obviously not enough to do.

“Sho sho o machi kudasai,” comes that familiar mantra heard in Japan, which translates as; “We have to make you wait. A restaurant is not a restaurant if you don’t have to wait. And a waiter is not a waiter unless you are made to wait for him or her”.

So, we wait.

The Japanese girls nod in polite approval as Patrick and I deal with our cultural differences thinking; “This is bullshit, They have twenty-five empty tables in there with eight idle waiters standing by. What are we waiting for?”

We struggle with suppressing the next succession of thoughts, most of which begin with; “Fuck this”.

Kayako starts to twitch as if feeling some kind of guilt or something. Is this a Japanese genetic thing? Or is it a behavior learned in the Edo period when the Samurai beat the farmers?

“What is it Kayako?” I ask.

“Well we just want to drink coffee and watch the view. But it is such a nice restaurant — maybe we have to order something.” She’s still twitching a bit, clearly uncomfortable with the idea of ignoring protocol.

“Shut up!” Patrick and I are screaming to her telepathically but she doesn’t hear.

“Wait!” I call out to her as she starts toward the maitre’d, or whatever you call those well-dressed people. Perhaps a better title would be restaurant police. But Kayako is off and soon returns with a flushed look on her face.
She reports back to us. “We can’t just drink tea or coffee here, we have to order something.”

“Fine, we’ll order something then,” I respond.

“But it maybe expensive.” Kayoko has stopped twitching and now merely looks pained.

“So ne,” agrees Michiko.

And Patrick and I realize we are up against not only a feminine conspiracy but a major cultural wall as well. Why do gaijin guys like Asian women anyway? Can’t we find enough sexual dimorphism amongst our own race? Apparently not.

“FINE — we will order something”. Both Patrick and I are losing it and the girls are looking fretful.

“We’ll pay for it,” we add. We want to see the view before the sun sets on the whole thing.

It is only after Kayako approaches the lady at the podium and politely apologizes for us being customers at such a fine and fancy establishment that we are finally ushered inside. Jesus Christ!

What we ordered, how we decided on it, and our interactions with the waiters is a whole other story in itself.

We did see the view, and it was beautiful. The sun was setting on the lazy Nagoya River while dark bluish-purple shades played over the Mie Mountains. Looking out over the little gray rooftops on the houses of old Nagoya on the west side made us we feel as if we were Kings and Queens floating high above everything. We could have been on a small airplane or floating in a hot air balloon. Where we were was in the comfort of this plush restaurant, a truly relaxing experience. Patrick and I sat back deeply in the soft luxury of the leather chairs. We looked knowingly to each other, another telepathic thought being transmitted; “…sometimes it is good to just go with the flow.

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