Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Girl I Didn't Know Who Knew Me

Yesterday, I was getting on the train. A young Japanese girl, who was no more than twenty, came up to me and started talking to me as if we were old friends. I had never seen her before... but apparently she knew me. She knew my name and that I lived in the city.

How could she know me?

This attractive girl, who was leaning in rather close to get under the rims of my glasses and take a peek at my blue eyes, who was she really?

We sat down together on the train and she pulled out a brand new iPhone. Having a little trouble with opening her apps I asked if I could help her. She said sure. I showed her how to do it, and she smiled, then opened up a file with some family photos.

Instantly I recognized her little brother. He is one of my junior high school students. Then she opened up another pic--her little sister--who is one of my elementary school students!

Ah, so this is how she knew me.

I got her name and we chatted for twenty minutes. She then got off at her destination and cheerfully walked a way. Her step had a bounce to it.

Laughing to myself, I realized, I used to be young like that. Now I am teaching the kids of my students who are in college already. Have I been in Japan that long?


Today is my last day of classes. Tomorrow Sayaka, Solara, and I will get on the plane and head back to the U.S. for Christmas. It will be the first time home in over six years. I am greatly looking forward to it.

See you all soon!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Jesus Clause & Santa Christ

Student: Did the baby Jesus grow up to be Santa Claus?

Me: Yeah, sounds about right.

True conversation I had yesterday with my second graders at Elementary school. They have no idea who Jesus is. And this was after a class where I explained who he was! I explained that Christians believe Jesus died and became God. One girl asked: What's a Christian? Yup. I love Japan!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Art of Staring and Getting Caught Graceiously

My wife scolded me yesterday for being a pervert. Although this is largely true, I try not to make a public show of my perviness (pervy-ness?). Although, her best girlfriend finds my risque sense of humor downright hysterical, and so I sometimes tease her, using innuendo and double entendres (some of them fairly inventive--I think you'll find--considering I am making bi-lingual puns and the like).

Yet having spent over half a decade living in Japan, I have found that I have to vent my sexual energies somehow. Since we have had a child, there is no time at home for, well, naughty videos. Even "fun time" with the wife has been severely restricted--almost non-existent. That's married life with kids, I suppose.

So joking is one way to enjoy the risque and still be socially acceptable. However, Japan being the way it is, I constantly find myself facing what I (personally) find to be the most attractive women on the planet.

Of course my wife is the most beautiful woman I know, although I am sure my daughter will someday surpass even her mother's beauty, but in terms of general preference, I have a weak spot for beautiful Asian women. I mean, who doesn't?

Unlike many American women (and Western women in general), however, Japanese women are usually very slender, many of them petite, but hardly any of them obese. Even the plump girls are "fit" by American standards--and very rarely do you see anyone bloated up to whale size. In a city crowd of thousands of holiday shoppers, you can go an entire day without spotting a single obese person. Japan is one of the slimmest nations in the world--mainly due to a strict diet which consists mostly of fish, miso soup, and white rice. Genetics also plays a large part.

So I usually like to take the time to admire the myriad of types of faces--and shapes--of all the beautiful women with their alluring almond eyes and slender curves. Smiles with crooked teeth I tend to find adorable. Black hair, brown hair, or dark brown hair. Sometimes bleached and died. The differences are subtle. All of them have dark brown eyes--but the exact shade varies. I find women beautiful, so I watch them with interest. I am interested in their beauty. I don't think that's a crime. Just simple adoration. As my wife always reminds me, it's okay to look but not touch.

The train ride is perhaps the best way to sample the variety of feminine beauty. It ranges from mothers with small children to business women to high school girls maturing into women. It's all a gradient. There are different scales of beauty, different types, different classifications. None of them better or worse than the next, just different. Staring at women is like taking a long hard long appreciative look at art (of course this analogy isn't perfect. Certainly I am not implying that women are merely objects to be desired or objectified. I don't think that).

Perhaps the reason I am so drawn to feminine beauty is that nature made women so desirable. For the obvious set of reasons--I shouldn't need to spell it out--I hope. Acknowledging the fact that women have a power over the man's imagination, indeed a power over all of us--to acknowledge this feminine enchantment over our imaginations is a sign of maturity. To ignore it would be to naive. To attack it is lame. To distort it into something to be owned or possessed is sinister. Feminine beauty is like a glorious sunset--nobody can own it--be on possession of it--it's just a force of nature. It's out there--staring back out you--whether or not you take the time to truly appreciate it. Women, for me, are truly inspiring. They are the very embodiment of beauty, in my opinion. I'd rather look at a beautiful woman than a sunset, but then again, I'd rather look at her with the soft light of a sunset washing over her and enhancing her lush beauty with a thousand tints and hues as it amplifies every vivid detail of her appealing mystique.

Staring can put many people off. My rule of thumb is, if they appear like they don't appreciate the stare--I stop. I don't intend to make anyone uncomfortable. There is a difference between molesting someone with your eyes and mutual flirtatious glances. I try to respect a person's comfort zone--which also varies from person to person. The trick, I have found, is to make staring fun--not icky. Gauging your timing and paying attention to the behavior and temperament of the woman is key. Watch for markers, changes in body behavior, is she nervous, put off, engaged, even interested?

Having the only blue eyes homing in on a woman in a flood of brown eyes, I find, makes me the target of their stares as well. Partly because they are curious--a set of blue eyes is a rarity--to see it once after having grown up without ever having seen it can be quite an experience, I'd imagine. It is sometimes hard not to get locked into a gaze with a beautiful stranger--hypnotized by the exotic blue eyes staring back at her.

How one responds will determine whether or not the other person, a complete stranger, reacts to the act of staring. I usually hold the gaze, then right when I feel she will break away I smile, and this usually prompts a smile in return. She maintains the gaze longer than she would have if not for the pleasant smile disarming her fears. I have it down to an art. I can get nearly anyone to smile back at me. Some call it charisma. Perhaps it's simpler still. Either way, warmth from the smile is a sign of friendliness. It's the first step to showing that you're not a perverted stalker or serial killer. Also, it helps to have a nice smile. The smile is important. It washes away the fears and builds that instant rapport that is needed to make the stare mutual and not one sided.

Nobody likes to be stared at--but people often love to stare into each others eyes. But you have to know how to read people--and even then you can find someone on a particularly bad day who isn't in the mood for playing such games. Leave them alone--there are other fish in the sea.

Speaking of which.

Last month I got "Sharon Stoned" on the three thirty train ride home. I couldn't bring myself to tell anyone about it at the time, because I had no idea how to say in all seriousness that some pretty lady I don't even know pulled a Basic Instinct and flashed her furry kitty at me.

Suddenly you're wondering what the situation was.

Like everyday, I was just getting on the train after school, before the high school rush hits. I sat down across from a OL (office lady)--she's a regular commuter. I see her everyday. We dailies all have our preferred cars and seating arrangements. Predictable, I know. But it helps us keep the rhythm of our daily routines. We have often shared some glances with each other--but usually she wears a mask as not to catch anyone's cold (it's a Japanese thing) and I can only see her eyes. Although she wasn't wearing a mask this day, I noticed.

She was wearing her usual business attire, a short skirt-suit, with a white blouse top, and an open collar. Typical, sexy, Japanese business woman. She is a woman I have watched get on and off the train for several months, fairly attractive, but not glamorous. Young, probably in her mid to late twenties. She sometimes glances at me and catches me staring at her longer than I probably should be. Then I turn away. Sometimes I catch a smile on her face before I break eye contact.

Well, several weeks ago she came onto the train and sat down across from me. It was the early afternoon train so there was hardly anybody in the car.  She looks up, sees me, we exchange smiles--acknowledging that we recognize each other. Next she pulls out her mobile and begins texting someone. She crosses her legs to block the view going up her skirt (her awfully short and revealing skirt).

Without warning a large smile breaks out on her face, as if she just read something funny. Perfect teeth. Wasn't expecting that. Her neck runs down into the white triangle opening of her collar, then trails down into a crevice of cleavage cut off far too abruptly, the rest is left up to the imagination. Suddenly I am staring at her legs. I can't help but think they are dark--even for a Japanese woman. But they're naturally tan, not artificial. Dark skin is exotic. Alluring. As is the rest of her skin. Nobody else seems to be on the train, except for a couple of people in the far back, and here is this gorgeous lady I've seen a thousand times before sitting in front of me like any other day. She flashes a look to check if I am still watching her. Yup, caught.

I glance away but eventually my eyes wonder back up her legs. Her legs are smooth. She looks fit. Her fitness is part of what makes her so attractive, I think to myself. All the curves bending and flowing over her feminine form. All right where they ought to be. She laughs again at the email. Then looks up. I'm caught--again. This time I don't try to look away. She holds my gaze. Luckily, she doesn't seem bothered by the prolonged exchange.

Shifting in her seat she she arches her back and pushes out her chest, then uncrosses her legs, opens wide, and then crosses them again.

I blink hard.

My eyes become frozen, locked onto the slender line of her feminine legs running together up into the dark shade of her skirt. For a brief instant that shade lit up with light streaming down through the train window. My brain is still a little slow processing what it has just seen.

For a second I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. No, I tell myself, it couldn't be what I thought it was. She looks up at me. No smile, just checking to gauge my reaction. I was still frozen--in a daze--speechless. Without so much as a response she goes back to texting. Was it a conscious act, I wonder? Did she assume I just hadn't noticed? Needless to say, I had a little trouble figuring out what had just happened-- more importantly why it had happened.

Either she didn't care that I saw or she wanted me to see. But I saw it all--and it was beautiful.

A minute later we are at the next train stop. Her friends get on and sit down on either side of her. She is telling them something. They all laugh, and with flushed cheeks they all glance at me. Damn, caught again. I look away. Was I part of some kind of inside joke? I didn't know. I decide to stare out the window, even though it makes me slightly dizzy, for the remainder of the trip.

When they get off they look back at me and all three giggle, cheeks glowing bright pink, and then they're gone.

Two stops later I got off the train, and thought to myself, what the hell?

It's the third time I have been flashed like this during my time in Japan (I'm not joking). The prior two instances are nothing to write home about. Simply a case of high school girls gone wild--at least as wild as can be expected from Japanese school girls locked into rigid forms of social behavior. Just panty shots--use to provoke. Entice. Mess with the foreigner and get a rise out of him--see what his reaction will be. If I were fat or ugly they probably would ignore me altogether, but they're just playing.

This was the first time a real woman had flashed me. Still, I couldn't tell if it was intentional or not. She seems to like the attention my eyes give her. She sometimes glances at me to see if I am watching her when I'm gazing elsewhere. I catch her in the corner of my peripheral vision--only to then glance at her--baited, caught, and reeled in like a fish on a hook.

But what is a guy to do with all this pent up sexual frustration?

I will tell you what I do. I listen to my wife's advice. Look but don't touch.

It's sound advice, I think you'll agree.