The Player

Here’s an anecdote from a couple years ago I never got around to publishing. Not sure if it will be interesting to anyone but me, but here goes.

You’re walking the streets of Ikebukuro, killing time before your rendezvous with some co-workers. As always, Ikebukuro is awash in neon, packed with the exotic rubbing shoulder-to-shoulder with the socially inept.

In the midst of this, The Player catches your eye.

He intrigues you so much that you actually follow him a few blocks to see where he’s headed.

The Player has bleach tips in his hair, a swagger to his stride. He’s decked out in a fancy if somewhat over-sized business suit. And there are, you’ve determined, only three types of people who wear suits in Japan:

-Office drones
-English teachers
-Guys who work at “host” bars

The Player is a fellow foreigner, which is what initially got your attention. He doesn’t look like a drone, and has an arrogance to him that says he knows exactly what he’s doing. It’s a confidence born of experience, rather than being a shaky front like that of so many foreigners here that you’ve met.

He enters a Family Mart and gets a coffee. Still following, you grab a chuhai and duck back outside to do a bit of street drinking.

When he exits, there’s an awkward silence as you stand side by side. He sips his coffee and you sip your chuhai. You view each other from the corners of your eyes, all the while pretending not to. You’re an old Japan hand, but this guy is confounding you. He doesn’t conform to your stereotypes. “Dammit, man, what do you DO?!” you want to scream. Is this guy, a fellow white devil, really a foreign host? Is there even such a thing? And if so, how well does it pay? Lord knows you could use the money.

In that moment, the Player walks away. You watch him in that slightly too-large suit as he goes.

And you think, “Damn. I should have asked for his card.”