Once I was done with JET and no longer part of that program I did not have to attend any of the mandatory events. While I have friends, having work related events where I ran into other people allowed me to make friends. I have significantly fewer friends.
I'm not writing this as a sob-story, just to set the stage. There is a new English teacher in my town as of last August and we've become friends. She and I grab dinner about once a week now. There's a place in Osaka that does all-you-can-eat wings on Wednesdays and we hit that up once in a while. Delicious wings. Sauce Boss. You should go if you can.
So anyway, we went last night. Since we live in a really Inaka place, I drive about half way to Osaka, park somewhere cheap and then it's a shorter train ride. Sad thing is I can't enjoy an adult beverage with my wings. Whatever. I like wings enough that I don't need anything else. Not that I’d mind a good Whiskey Coke. I'd rather not be arrested and lose my license.
Anyway. Arrive in Osaka. I pick up some cards for a Standard deck I’m likely going to play in Magic Fest Kyoto. Head over to the restaurant. Realize it's about as cold now as it was in January the last time we went. Finally arrive. It's surprisingly not packed. Wings come out quickly and hot. Real good. I pack away thirty or so. Love it.
My friend says she wants to grab some Starbucks. There's one near the station, so cool. I can enjoy an overly sugary treat now and again. Get the drinks. We're chatting about bullshit when I sense someone standing near me.
Now, I say I don't have many friends and that is kind of a lie. I know lots of people, but I’m
a bit socially awkward and usually afraid that people hate me. So I look up and it's this guy in a, well, eccentric outfit with a big grin on his face. I don't recognize him. He offers me a fist bump. I slowly rase my tightly clenched fist and my anus begins to tighten up.
He thanks me for wearing his favorite color. I don't remember what I said in response. My friend at this point has hung her head down to avoid any contact. I don't blame her, but now I'm in this alone. The stranger asks if I'm a teacher. I reply that I am. He said he knew that because I had class. Am I being hit on? Flattering, maybe, but I’m not interested. Sorry. Anyway, he offers a fist bump again and then says something to my friend and offers her a fist bump. She obliges and the guy walks off and starts talking to a Japanese man and woman sitting an other nearby table.
So my friend and I exchange a “What in the fuck was that?” look and resume chatting. Mid-sentence she violently jerks her head to the right, covers her mouth and looks utterly terrified. I’m concerned about what this guy might be doing now. I say that I don't want to look. She has no response. I slowly turn my head to see just the guy’s leg jerking up and down. Oh shit.
Now, I’ve worked in a public library before. Is this guy jacking the mean bone in a Starbucks? No. He is not. But besides his violent leg motions there is a large puppet head sticking out of his backpack. Staring at us. Deep into our souls, if we have them. I’m not sure God exists anymore.
I finish my drink and my friend downs hers. We leave. I notice the guy is, what you might call, “rocking out” but the tune seems to be in his head. He's using scissors to cut strips of paper.
If it sounds like I’m making fun of this guy or I’m being mean, I apologize. I don't mean to cast any aspersions. I wish I had more of that sort of confidence to talk to more people. But sweet Yuukichan's papa, he scared me. There was just a... What is the way to say this where I don't sound like an asshole? Lack of understanding? I wasn't in the mood for a conversation with a stranger. Maybe it didn't go on for the eight hours that my soul processed it as, but I wasn’t in the state of mind to say “I'm not in the mood to chat, sorry.” and instead just awkwardly remained quiet while the situation played out.
I did have that dirty feeling afterwards where I check that my wallet is still in my pocket, make sure my bag is still at my feet and feel a bit alert. And maybe I’m the asshole here because the guy was just trying to be friendly.
That puppet haunted my dreams.