Sunday, May 07, 2006

>>Osaka and Why I Hate Tower Records<< (大阪)

Saturday afternoon I headed over to the Kyoto train station to meet some “friends” (Stanford classmates) and head to Osaka. We were scheduled to leave on the 2 PM train but people didn’t show up until 3:30. By the time we arrived in Osaka it was already dark.

One thing I like about girls is that they plan. When you put a group of boys together in a big city, no matter how diligent the Stanford student they claim to be, it always devolves into mindless wandering. The first hour was spent wandering trying to find a place to eat. Two other guys and I ate noodles while the rest of the gang (eight boys in all) went off to have Chinese style dumplings. We wouldn’t meet up with our better half for many hours.

Dinner was followed by more hours of mindless wandering. The two guys I were with are sexually frustrated and were on the prowl for Japanese girls. Even if they found themselves sitting next to the hottest Japanese girl in the entire country, they wouldn’t be able to say anything to her other than “The red apple was very delicious” – maybe the guys would get lucky and the girl would misinterpret this for a pickup line or something.

The three of us ended up in a bar. We by chance met up with another student from our same Stanford program though not in our original group of eight. He himself was wandering around Osaka with a Hawaiian friend who teaches English in Japan. The five of us sat and drank beers in the nameless bar. The beer was right – at least the whole night wasn’t a bust.

Thanks to the magic of cell phones and impressionistic directions, we were eventually joined by our counterpart. I was pleased to learn that they had been wandering around for hours just like us. With everybody in tow, we headed off to the lair of the devil – Tower Records.

It was the bright idea of several people in our group to jam all their bags and stocks of condoms into the coin lockers outside of Tower Records and then play hot potato with the keys, just to make sure that no one quite knew where their stuff was being held or who had the key to the appropriate locker.

We all proceeded to head to a club called Pure (a famous chain of clubs in Tokyo and Osaka, or so I was told). All the way there I’m listening to the testosterone filled prattling of the stray dogs in heat that are my classmates. “This is how we’re gonna up our odds,” “You gotta say you’re at least 24,” “'Bisho,' I looked it up in the dictionary, it means like a small orgasm.” Give me a break.

We finally get to Pure and queue up in line. All of the sudden certain people are feeling sleepy and others realize that they are underage. Yeah, I should be the first person to balk because I HATE clubs. When we get to the door the bouncer stops one guy right away for not having a valid idea. I must say I was pretty amused. That same guy was bragging about how he could talk his way out of anything and that the Japanese are too stupid to read numbers. All this talk translated into him whimpering “I’m 20 years old” repeatedly to the bouncer. He is actually only 19.

Right as my friend Kevin and I were about to pay to get into Club Pure, they bumped the entry price up to $40. I wasn’t going to pay that, and neither was Kevin, so we left with “I’m 20 Years old” guy in tow. We wound up at another nearby club called Azure – The rest of our group either made it into Club Pure or disbanded.

Azure was horrifying. I don’t do clubs in America – they’re just not my thing – and in Japan it is SO MUCH WORSE. Azure was basically an excuse to cram 200 people into a living room size space, give everybody a cigarette to puff away on, and blast bass-heavy music so you couldn’t hear yourself practice your pickup line about the “red apple” to the cute girl in the hat sitting next to you. There actually was a gorgeous girl wearing a hat sitting next to me but she was with a guy and they were kissing. I had a front row seat to admire what it must be like to be loved by a female as I drowned my sorrows.

So it turns out that Kevin loves clubs (who knew?) and starts busting moves, disappearing into the sea of smoking Japanese kids. “I’m 20-years old kid” proceeds to lean against a wall and zone out or pass out – I couldn't tell which. I redeemed my free drink coupons and drank watered down bloody marys with no spice while staring glumly at the goddess in the hat. I was not a happy camper.

We stayed in the club for an hour or so, much to my chagrin, but finally I had to leave, for my lung’s sake. I’m an asthmatic but I don’t usually bitch about smoking – this was too much though, and I really was having trouble breathing. Trains in Japan stop running around 11 or 12 at night – so the three of us effectively had no way home (the rest of our group was in the same boat – but we wouldn’t see them till the sun rose).

What happened next was Ben Whaley’s version of Insomniac with Dave Attell. Kevin began to get very worried about the electronic Japanese dictionaries and digital camera he stuffed in one of the coin lockers in front of Tower Records (why – I don’t know – they were locked in a metal box). He of course didn’t have a key. What followed were these same three steps repeated ad nausea:

1) Call the cell phones of the people at Club Pure regarding the locker key and get no response.

2) Curse out loud about putting your stuff in the locker in the first place.

3) Have the three of us walk from whatever point we were in the city, back through the convoluted narrow Osaka streets to get to Tower Records just in case the person with the key had decided to stand in front of the coin lockers all this time like a complete idiot.

We must have done this same thing over five times. I was so angry by the sixth time Kevin started back for Tower Records that I started screaming I was going to force feed the electronic dictionaries down his throat. He thought my reaction was very funny. I was serious though. It was pitch black and my feet were tired and my buzz from the bloody marys had worn off hours ago.

At some point, “I’m 20 years old” guy randomly sat on a bench and Kevin and I followed suit. Yep – I slept on a bench in Osaka. At least Japan is the safest country in the world so you don’t feel like you’re going to get mugged. In retrospect it may not have been the smartest thing to do, but the worst I saw was some Japanese guy walk by, pick up a parked bicycle, throw it into the bushes, look and me and yell “OKAY? OKAY!?!” in English. Go figure. At 3 o’ clock in the morning, when you're lying on a bench in a dirty alley, that kind of stuff just seems normal.

We only slept for a little over an hour – gaining a new found appreciation for what it must be like to be homeless. The trains start running again at 5:30 in the morning, so we had enough time to do at least three more trips to Tower Records for our favorite game of “Locker, locker, what’s in the locker?” We finally met up with the rest of our group – stinking drunk – and got the junk out of the lockers. I hopped on the first train I could back to Kyoto and got back to my host family’s house around seven in the morning – a warm bed never felt so good.


1 comment:

Christopher Woods said...

Randomly discovered your site via this post. Hilarious! and well written, look forward to reading the other stuff.