A typical day

9:30 a.m.

I walk into the neighborhood supermarket. The guy exiting gives me the evil eye for no reason.

Walking past the pharmacy section, I hear a cheap ’80s-era boombox blaring the jingle the supermarket always plays on the weekend.

“Today is double-point day! Double-point day! Oh, such are the chances for savings that can be had today — it’s double-point day!”


There are, however, some good specials. I pick up a couple spices, some chicken, and a yakipurin that reminds me of the flan I used to eat as a kid.

There’s another ’80s-style boombox set atop the table in front of me. It plays the same jingle: “Today is double-point day! Double-point day!” I wince, move down a couple aisles to get out of the range of that aural fuckery. Suddenly the supermarket intercom switches from light Muzak to the same jingle, and “Today is double-point day! Double-point day!” blares across the entire store.


towelI exit. A light rain has started to fall, and I don’t have an umbrella. It’s a little early, but I say screw it and pop open a chuhai and have some of the chicken, a charcoal-grilled yakitori skewer in special sauce, while waiting for the rain to die down. The yakitori isn’t so much cold as it is near-frozen. As I chew on it, it occurs to me that the Japanese onomatopoeia for the sound it makes in my mouth is shari shari.

A man walks up, a fellow foreigner. He looks to be in his mid-forties, with a handlebar mustache and unkempt hair, walking a white Shiba dog. Back in the States, he probably rode a Harley to work and looked men in the eye like he was the shit. But here, today, we do the gaijin dance and pretend not to see each other, me looking off to one side while he suddenly feels the need to check his watch. His dog saves the moment by pulling him in another direction, and in seconds they’re gone.

I begin walking home. On the way, I turn down a side street to check out something that’s always intrigued me, a sign for a 手打ち (handmade) soba restaurant smack in the middle of a residential area. It turns out whoever runs the place is running it right out of his own house; the door next to the “restaurant” entrance is open, and through the sliding door I can see a TV, a living room scattered with magazines.

A lady exits. She wears jeans two sizes too small and works it like someone who knows exactly what she’s doing. She catches me peering under her umbrella to confirm what I’d already guessed, that she is in her late 30s/early 40s and strikingly attractive. I turn, pretending not to have been staring.

A portly elderly gentleman approaches. He does that really annoying thing that Tokyo people do, walking directly into your trajectory and pointedly ignoring the fact that you exist. At this rate we’re bound to collide. I consider ramming my shoulder right the hell into him to teach him a lesson. Instead, I move to one side and let him pass. Wouldn’t want to spill my chuhai.


Just a typical day.