Saturday night, sporadically rainy, I take the train to Shibuya and then to Omotesando to meet an American friend at El Torito. She has promised me margaritas. Some oshaberi (chat) and booze is pretty much all it takes to get me to take a train for an hour and a half. The train becomes more and more crowded as we approach Shibuya. The Saturday night crowd is looking for action, and by the time the train pulls out of the penultimate stop, the train is full in that squashed Japanese body-on-body way, people stoic but sometimes grunting or sighing when the train sways around a turn and we jam a poor old man against the doors. I try not to step on the lovely toes of the girls in high heels with knee-high socks.

On ground level, out of the subway, the billboards are full of handbags and promises of material joy. The crowd is noticably good-looking and affluent and full of gaijin. Signs point to shrines and museums and restaurants and shops. This is civilization’s raw and cooked. I am early, as I always am, so I poke my head in a tea-ceremony shop and ponder a $1,000 ceramic tea container. It looks like a liter-sized, squashed marshmallow with drippy, pitted white glaze. I allow myself to imagine buying it, and then leave.

Greeting/meeting two Japanese friends of my friend: one is all sardonic reserve and the other exuberant voracity; they make me think of Tommy Boy or Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. I’m beaming at them across the table. My friend and I must explain to her friends the way we met, and I look around wildly, and mutter something about Taylor Hicks and the World Wide Web. Time for booze, please.

Ah the cognitive dissonance of ordering in Japlish margaritas and guacamole in an American chain restuarant: “Margarita classico onegaishimasu.” Well, perhaps that is Spapanese. Who fucking cares after three watery margaritas? Not me. I don’t even care that I’m in an El Torito; I’m with folk, we’re chatting in a strange mix of Japanese and English. It has occurred to me that I have spent so much money on private lessons that every utterance I make in Japanese is worth a few bucks, so I try to get a few phrases in with Spade-san and Farley-san. They are mucho indulgent.

At one point the lights all go out in the restuarant and one of the guys mutters, “Kaze (wind).” I find myself cackling, why I do not know. Perhaps because I’m glad to have company and am enjoying the lights going out in a third-world way in this all-too-first-world place. Perhaps I’m buzzed.

I always leave Tokyo reluctantly because I want to stay up late, later than the return trains will allow. I want to be in the center of the mass, in the action. There’s so much naughty hoping to be tasted, but I gotta get home. My friend promises a live music outing, and we promise to make it happen…

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