The Old Blog Archive, 2005-2009

Archive for the 'fiction' Category


I: “I should shop a good chat app on the App Store so that I can talk to you more often.”

She: “I thought you already have a phone?”

Friday Night Usher (Fiction)

(r and I were playing this silly word game and suddenly this short piece got its own shape. The last time it flowed out so naturally was in 2001. So here it is.)

I used to be a Friday night usher when I was an exchange student in Tokyo. There is a Japanese saying that goes, “Only those without boyfriends work as Friday night ushers.” How true.

The theater was located in a shabby apartment in the hustle-and-bustle district of Shibuya-ku. It specialized in gay porns, or “pink movies” in Japanese. As for why such a theater needed a girl usher remained a mystery. I was 15 then. It is hard to find a decent baito, or a part-time job, when you are 15, unless you want to do McJobs greeting customers with McIrashaimase‘s. It is especially hard when you are a gaijin. I was young, fearless and curious about the world. So when I was offered the job I was happy to take it. And anyway I could watch films for free, even if they were gay porns.

Sekuhara, or sexual harasssment, was not a problem in such a theater. There was really only one downside about this job, and it was that, sometimes the theater would rerun the same film so often, that eventually I could recall every line of, say, “Harajuku High School Student Sprees” (there weren’t that many lines, anyway). But I could reassure you, the actors therein were well over 18, that no sane person would ever believe those were really high school student sprees. Still, what is theater (or film) if you don’t have faith in things not real?

Sometimes there were porns that were obscure. Some of them were trying to be arty, and some of them really were. Occasionally there was one film that had a plot like those of Kieslowski’s La double vie de VĂ©ronique or Shunji Iwai’s Love Letter. There was even a film noir porn that was probably made in the late 1950s, with all the montage techniques that you could find in Battleship Potemkin, but had a plot set near the end of the Edo Bakufu era and colored by some chanbara scenes here and there! And if you still believed what I said, you would suspect if those were really gay porns. I had to say I was bewildered, too, when I was watching that very film, e.g. one nude 40-something aniki engaged in chanbara fights with a juicy (relatively so in that era) late 20-something. Perhaps the film tried to work on the level of metaphor. I just didn’t get it.

At this point you might wonder how I reacted to the scenes in the theatre. You know what I mean by that. I wouldn’t say I didn’t see anything, but I didn’t care much either.

There weren’t many young people that frequented such a theater. Pink movies were already in decline when I was in Japan. Naturally I didn’t expect to get to know anyone either. There was once, though, that I met a university student (claiming he studied at Waseda) there. He was totally out of that place, as he didn’t seem to blend in well the toilet scene there. He visited there a few times and eventually we exchanged snail mail addresses.

I worked there as a Friday usher for around 4 months. Later a fellow exchange student referred a Lawson job to me. I had memorized enough film lines, and the timing was good for a change. For some unknown reasons, I still wrote New Year cards to the university student. I never received his card in return until last Christmas. Then I received a beautifully printed card. It was a wedding invitation, with his name on it. With a woman.

There was no point to go to the wedding, as I didn’t really know him. Still I wrote him a thank-you card, thanking him for inviting me and wishing them well. Writing that card, somehow I felt a little sadness inside, as if I missed or lost something.

Ah, atashi tachi no fiaresu na seishun jidai (we girls’ fearless youth).