Saturday, November 06, 2004

Dance till you drop

Today I met some friends. They were not the friends I was expecting to meet, but I met them anyway.

I had arranged to meet one friend, but the arrangement was in doubt and I hadn't been able to get in touch with her. So I emailed to say that I'd be there, and that if she didn't turn up never mind. I had to go to Osaka anyway, and had to eat lunch, so it might as well be at my favourite Iranian restaurant. I would take a good book, and could always chat with the manager if he wasn't too busy. He is a funny and intelligent man.

I also emailed another friend to tell her I'd be there. She had already told me she'd be in Osaka but would probably be busy so wouldn't be able to make it, but I wanted her to know I'd be there anyway, just in case.

I got to the restaurant, and the first thing I saw, after greeting the manager, was two other friends, completely unconnected with the first two. They were the only customers there.

How's that for serendipity?

I joined them for lunch, we talked for a couple of hours, and then the other two, who had been to Koya-san and had ended up staying overnight, and had just happened to suddenly decide to visit the restaurant on their way back, said it was time for them to get home. They'd already been gone a day longer than they'd expected and had things to do. I decided to go as well, as it was clear that my friend wasn't coming. But just as I was about to stand up, the other friend (the one I'd emailed who had said she wouldn't have time to come) turned up.

So the first two friends left and I stayed, with the third one.

While we were there a couple of guys came in, separately, both American. The manager, who is Iranian, had a running joke going. Whenever an American came in he'd congratulate them politely and seriously on their new president. (To understand why this was such an effective practical joke you have to understand that every single American I've met in Japan has ended up loathing Bush, even those dyed-in-the-wool Republicans who voted for him the first time around. They are sick of feeling ashamed. He is an embarrassment to all Americans except those 52% in America, apparently. I guess there's a lot of news that doesn't get covered much in the US.)

The reactions of these two guys (and of my friend) were really funny. They went pink and looked ready to explode, but were rendered speechless by the manager's apparent sincerity. One of them tried to claim he was Canadian. When challenged on this he said he was Canadian in his heart, and paperwork wasn't that important, was it?

We ended up having a sort of party, including the two American guys. I had lunch twice.

Other customers came and went. Some Japanese businessmen came in briefly and had a very fast meeting at the table next to us. When I rolled a cigarette they goggled. I didn't notice because I wasn't looking, so it was a surprise to me when my friend started giggling.

"Don't look now, but those guys think you're rolling a joint," she said. "Their eyes are popping out of their heads." (People don't smoke rollies here, except me.)

I sucked earnestly on my 'joint' and offered it to my friend, who almost fell off her chair laughing. The businessmen suddenly got up and left. I apologised to the manager for giving his restaurant a reputation for being a hotbed of foreign terrorist drug addicts, and offered him a rollie in compensation, which he accepted.

I ended up spending the entire wonderful afternoon at the restaurant, and was late for my acupuncture treatment.

And now I'm ready to drop.