One of my favorite things about living in Japan is the continual sense of unexpected possibility. You never know what might happen or what you might see each day when you wake up in the morning. Perhaps the the local garbage men might drive by with a special niche in the side of their truck where a stuffed Winnie the Pooh rides. Or maybe 5 little dogs all wearing sunglasses will trot merrily past you as you walk down the street to meet a friend for coffee.
Even after two years, there’s still so much I don’t understand about this country and although it can certainly be frustrating at times, I think that if I knew all the answers, much of the magic would be removed. For example, on my way to the train station I pass a dog grooming salon. Inexplicably, this salon seems to have a fascination with transportation and there is always some sort of scooter or giant tricycle on display in front of the salon. What’s the connection with dog grooming? I really don’t know. The best times are when they put out a giant motorcycle made entirely of wicker. Naturally if I spoke Japanese I could just pop in and ask the groomers what the deal is with the trikes and the wicker and so on. Actually, my Japanese is good enough that I could ask that but it’s not good enough for me to understand the answer.
The other morning I went to pour myself a cup of coffee when to my dismay I realized that we were out of milk. Now some people can drink their coffee black if they have to but I’m not one of those people. When I smoked I needed my orange juice and in my coffee I need my milk and sugar. I’m very serious about these things. So anyway, there we were. Me sitting blearily on the couch with my empty coffee mug, and Nico sitting on the floor, snatching aimlessly* at invisible objects in the air. Did I care that my 9 month old son appeared to be exhibiting signs of becoming an infant schizophrenic? No I didn’t. I was too tired to care because I didn’t have any MILK and thus no coffee.
The doorbell rang. Who could it be? Nobody EVER comes calling unexpectedly at our apartment save for a a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses and one time, a woman who announced that she was my neighbor Yoko Ono and that she wanted to be my friend and practice her English. She came bearing the gifts of a key chain and a small microwave pizza. The bell rang again and as I shambled to the door in my bathrobe I just hoped thatit wasn’t the Witnesses again. Until then I had successfully avoided them by feigning a complete ignorance of every language they had attempted to speak with me. So far they had displayed themselves to be remarkably and quite unfortunately multilingual and had already given me literature in Japanese, Spanish, French and English. Perhaps this time they’d try something more exotic. Finnish or Gaelic perhaps? I cautiously opened the door to reveal a Japanese man holding a small glass bottle of milk. He started to speak but when I seemed confused, he thrust the milk at me, said “Miruku des (It’s milk)” and then scurried off.
Well well well I thought to myself as I went back inside, “They” really are watching me. I always suspected it but I guess this just proves it. It’s not just me, Nico and the cast of CNN then after all because someone out there knew that I needed milk. Perhaps he was the fairy godmother I’d always dreamed of. Granted, I’d never expected my fairy godmother to turn out to be a middle-aged Japanese man with a bad comb-over and a Member’s Only jacket but life is full of surprises. A few hours later the doorbell rang once more. I peeked through the window and saw that it was my fairy godmother again. What might he have for me this time I wondered. I opened the door but instead of the grilled cheese sandwich and Hershey’s bar that I’d been hoping for, the man handed me a flier on which was written something in English about a neighborhood milk delivery service. The earlier bottle had been a sample. As I shut the door a few minutes later, I found myself wishing that I had been out when the man had come back with his flier because as convenient as a milk delivery service may be, nothing could match up to the magic of having my very own fairy godmother. Especially one wearing a Member’s Only jacket.
*Later, a caffeine fueled investigation revealed that what Nico was actually snatching at were floating particles of dust. Now I just need to sit here and hope for someone with a broom to show up.