I’ve been pretty dormant blog-wise in recent months—not that anyone has
objected (sniff). Partly it's just the same old same old: expending most
of my energy burying my mother and staving off the tag team of depression
and alcohol-induced senility, and all that.
But I have been working on a new book, too. A sort of companion piece to my first memoir, How To Pick Up Japanese Chicks And Doom Your Immortal Soul, this tome tosses in all the stories related to the wonderful chicks of
N University (aka “Nangaku”) during my seventeen years on the faculty there,
mostly in the International Relations (IR) department.
Just as my previous post cannibalized the cult-of-personality website that I operated in my Nangaku
days, I’m now going to
weasel out of writing another post by tossing you one of the leftovers
from the new book—which is, itself, largely cobbled together of recycled
material from my own journals and my email exchanges with fabulous Nangaku
I’m reaching back eighteen years this time, to a crisp late-autumn evening a month after the release of my second album of novelty songs, on which several charming Nangaku chicks had sung back vocals. Alas, the opus—an operetta of sorts titled The Tragedy of Taro Nangaku (“boy meets girl, boy vomits on girl, boy gets back in girl’s good graces, boy vomits on her again”)—had garnered mostly negative reviews: “Too weird.” “Too much vomiting.” That sort of thing.
This bit below didn’t make the final cut of my book because the book is
supposed to be about elegant and super-competent Japanese university chicks,
and this is the story of an ugly, inept Japanese university boy.
It would require a festivity of monumental proportions—some
sort of pageant, or antic, or firework—to snap me out of this funk, and of
course the 1996 freshmen came through.
9th—a Monday, for heaven's sake—I attended the bonen-kai [year-end
party] for this year's hilariously
wonderful freshman class, organized by Ryo Yokohama (of Not-Yet-Castrated Boys
big, lovable doofus Hajime Mizoguchi who took on the Taro Nangaku role,
swilling beer, then changing to whiskey and causing me to flee to the far end
of the table. Down there, I ran into a group of freshman returnee dudes
coincidentally at the next table…
Hajime had moved on to saké, gleefully brandishing what looked like a flower
vase full of the stuff. I was negotiating an album sale with a couple of people
when he finally erupted on the table in front of himself…
To Hajime’s great credit, he did form a funnel with his
hands at the last second in an effort to mitigate the splatter, but you see,
there was just so very much of it. After the third retch he stared vaguely into
the middle distance for a moment like a desiccated shipwreck survivor scanning
the horizon for land before flopping forward in slow motion to land beak-first
in the beige pool of his own offal. His head then slowly twisted on his very
thick neck so that it came to rest on the fulcrum of his right cheek.
Hajime, and the table at large, fell silent. The wait staff
hustled over and created a makeshift system of dams around him with wet towels,
and eventually we just forgot about him. It was, after all, a “forget-the-year
As official party leader and friend of Hajime, Ryo grew
increasingly annoyed at this conspiracy of silence, so, to mollify him, I
stepped up to revive Hajime. His large head felt like a milk-jug full of wet
concrete, and had become sealed to the table by his own dried discharge to
boot, so that a sickening Velcro sound resulted when I tried to pull it
upright. I soon gave this up as the proverbial bad job.
“Hey, Muggins,” said a nearby classmate, who had brought his
guitar to the event. “I wrote a song,
too. Tell me what you think of it.” He proceeded to strum and pick his way
through some vaguely bluesy piece, with the butt of his guitar sometimes
nudging up against Hajime’s carcass. I focused on the rather derivative
composition with all my might in hopes that doing so would make me less aware
of the fresh vomit still trickling from the corner of Hajime’s mouth and
pooling by his forehead.
Four IR boys from the other table—sophisticated lads called
“returnees” by virtue of the fact that they had lived a year or more
overseas—concluded at this point that they could no longer abide the ineptitude
of our group’s drunk-friend-management stylings. They somehow dragged Hajime
upright and frog-marched him out the front door, then over to the
cinderblock-walled garbage area—just like
in my song, I found time to think.
Here, the alpha male of the repeater group rained sharp,
open-handed blows on Hajime’s cheeks, punctuated by questions, while two others
held him up.
“WHAT IS YOUR NAME?”
“WHERE DO YOU LIVE?”
“I have been this man’s teacher for nearly a full school
year, and I can assure you, he knows nothing,” I wanted to interject, but just
then Hajime began to respond.
A few more slaps extracted information about his apartment,
and I’m sure that this fellow could have gotten nuclear launch codes out of Hajime
in time, but I was starting to get bored.
“Excuse me,” I said. “I don’t mean to interrupt. My name is
“Yes, I know,” he answered calmly, offering his hand. “I’m Hiro
course you are, I thought. Of
course he would be “hero.”
“I just wanted to say that I think you’re the coolest guy
I’ve ever seen.”
“Thank you,” he replied, “and I liked your album.”
Then he went back to pummeling and interrogating poor Hajime,
and I headed home, purring the phrase I’m
Hiro Hamano as if it were “Bond, James Bond” along the way.
Mrs. Muggins was visiting the city for
business reasons, so I had the pleasure of reconstructing the entire scenario
for her once I got back to the apartment. Then I fell into a deep sleep from
which a voice in my head roused me at three a.m.
“What if who’s
you dolt. What if he never made it home? What if he died right there in the
I saw a whirling newspaper like in a black-and-white movie
come veering toward me, slowing to reveal the thick black headline N.U.
FRESHMAN DIES OF ALCOHOL POISONING with the kicker Teacher Who Led Child to His Doom Flees the Scene!
“But I did my part! I tried to lift his head!”
isn’t that generous. They would expect you to behave like a responsible adult.
The next day at campus, I grabbed anyone who might know Hajime
to ask if they had seen him or had any news about him, but no one did. I was to
have him in class the following day but he failed to show at first, finally
shambling in late.
“Good God, are you all right?” I said. “I was so worried
“They had to take me to the hospital,” he said, with his usual
lopsided grin. He chuckled and added, “That was the third time!”