Saturday, May 31, 2008

Semi-accosted and Yes, We Have No Butter

My town is chock full of crazy people. I learned quickly that the loonies come in all flavors and they're nothing if not unpredictable. There are the friendly ones, the angry ones, the should-be-snug-in-a-straight-jacket ones. Regulars include my Ultraman guy, the outdoor pooping woman, and a new guy I've yet to meet who insists god is showing him visions and provides him with the power to heal his English students' feet (the last one introduced to me by my good friend C.--we compare freaks). Now, I'm not complaining. Living in such an environment certainly makes walking the dog an unpredictable adventure.


So, the other day at the train station I'm standing on the platform listening to some NPR news story on my ipod and waiting for the train. When suddenly I notice all the people lined up around me begin move away at a quick clip. Uh-oh. I also see they're all looking in my direction. Hmmm.

I switch off the show and turn to look over my shoulder. And sure enough there he is, an old man, two teeth in his head, frighteningly dirty, and talking excitedly at me. Wonderful.

Now I've learned some of the rules for dealing with the whackos in my town:

1. Don't make eye contact.

2. Don't let them know you speak Japanese.


3. Don't make any sudden moves but back slowly away.

4. When in a pinch point behind said nutcase and shout, "Look a baby fox!" Then run like the wind.

But this time I noticed right away that this guy wasn't drunk. That's always a positive sign. And he was laughing, not so much at me (I could be mistaken) but just a generally happy fellow. Jabber, jabber, jabber, guffaw, guffaw, jabber, jabber, jabber. Despite his greasy hair, bandaged fingers (all of them!), and black-ish grin, none of my red flags went up. I decided to listen to what he was trying to say. Not quite Japanese...

Something like this: "Jabber, jabber, jabber, ha ha ho, POLITICS! Jabber, jabber, jabber, ho ho ho! NEIL ARMSTRONG! Ha ha ho!"
As clear as day. Neil Armstrong.
I couldn't help by laugh which made my new friend even more jolly. He slapped his knee and howled. He continued his rant. After a bit, he walked off, circled around and came back behind me to preach his funny tale of politics, Neil Armstrong and this time Winston Churchill was mentioned. The train came and he scampered off down the platform. I found a seat and turned my news back on when about ten minutes later I heard a gasp and commotion and saw that my buddy was on the train walking up and down the cars continuing his little tirade. This time though he left me entirely alone (feigning sleep is an artform in Japan) but really gave it to a couple of housewives playing Tetris on their cell phones.

All in all one of the most docile crazy-person encounters I've ever had. Oh and speaking of crazy people, I'm re-reading some of Gogol's short stories and loving them. I never realized how funny he was.

In final news, for weeks, no, months now there has been no butter in Japan. Absolutely none.



First, no frogs. Then no butter.

15 comments:

Hilary said...

What an experience.. who knew that somewhere in Japan there's somebody obsessed with Neil Armstrong?

No frogs.. no butter? I think the French are responsible.. you know how they like those sautéed frogs' legs. ;)

Frank Baron said...

Dang. Hilary stole my line.

I'm glad you treated the whacko with civility. I realize of course, that can't always be the case - you must trust your judgment. But yours seems sound.

May it continue to be. :)

And may you soon celebrate the return of frogs and butter - if not necessarily together. ;)

Kappa no He said...

You guys are great! I was still suspecting that creepy stuffed bear.

You know, I would totally sacrifice the frogs and butter in exchange for a nice bottle of Bordeaux and maybe a little Brie de Meaux. Just sayin.

Once I was attacked by a guy; a big, screaming, not-happy-America-was-in-Iraq kinda guy. Honing my people-reading skills is somewhat of a hobby these days. Not that I'm that great. Adrenaline is my friend.

Ello said...

Hmmm, no butter? How bad is that for you and cooking? Not that I cook alot, but I don't think not having butter would kill me too much.

MDK said...

What a day you had! I haven't genuinely laughed in quite some time, but that did it.

I've read only one Gogol story; I think it's called "The Raincoat".

Kappa no He said...

Ello, actually...to tell the truth...it was my cool baking friends who informed me. I mean moms who BAKE! As for us? We don't even eat buttered toast. But it IS interesting how once I learned I couldn't get any butter I started thinking...but then how can I make scones?! ... despite the fact that I haven't made scones in three years.

MDK! There you are!! I was worried about you. Well, missing you that is. The Overcoat (translations go from Cloak to Overcoat to Raincoat, I'm sure), was amazing! And so timely. I mean it was written in the late 1800s but still its message reverberates in today's society, I think. The Nose was also a hoot. To make a sweeping generalization, Gogol reminds me of a slightly happier Kafka. I'm sure I'll be reemed for that remark. But still.

Mary Witzl said...

I don't think I could count all the crazies-on-the-train I encountered in Japan.

In our neighborhood, we had a screaming man, a man who went around swinging a golf club (he got into trouble with the police over the broken glass of a phone booth one night), several exhibitionists -- my kid encountered one -- and a man in his seventies who dyed his hair pitch-black and teased it into an Elvis style. My eldest and I were buying tickets at the station once when a man began whacking his briefcase down violently and screaming -- in pretty good English and at the top of his lungs -- that he hated Americans and wished we would all die. Asshole: how did he know we weren't Canadians?

Mary Witzl said...

Ooh -- Hilary beat me to it with the frogs' legs comment.

I remember loving Gogol. Didn't he write 'The Sneeze?'

And watch out for that bear!

Pat said...

The outdoor pooping woman? You crack me up, Girlfriend! But having no butter borders on the tragic...:{

Tigermama said...

Thankfully, all of my encounters with crazies on the train here have been from afar. It is interesting however, to watch how people react...from afar!

Ello said...

Hey Kappa, where are you hiding?

Kappa no He said...

Mary! Ooooh, I can imagine the stories you have...the BIG city! Scary! Did you hear we just had some guy go nuts in Akihabara. Terrifying.

Pat, butter is BACK...and so are my little FROGS...albeit not as many (frogs) and not as much (butter) as before. I'm thinking of making scones now....yummy buttery, froggy scones. *drool*

Tigermama, Hey! Stay on guard girl, they sneak up on ya! Ha ha. But I'm very glad to hear you haven't had any bad experiences with them.

Ello, I hate when life gets too busy to blog and to read blogs. That is on my To Do list for today. I really need to make the rounds. It feels like forever!

Mary Witzl said...

I heard about what happened in Akihabara this morning. It is so tragic. I used to pass through Akihabara every day on my way home from work.

It's one thing that this man decided to end his own life, but to take out all those other innocent people just going about their business -- ah well, he was hardly sane at the time. Now there will be a big, costly trial and the only people who profit will be the undertakers and the tabloids. It seems to sad and pointless.

At least the crazy guys in our neighborhood were relatively tame crazy guys.

Kappa no He said...

Yea. I guess this morning they found he had posted on some forum exactly what he was going to do, and when he started doing it, step by step ("I rented a truck, I'm resting at a rest stop now...") but no one was reading that forum evidently so it wasn't reported. Also, the reason he 'lost it' was because someone at work hid his uniform (at least that is what they are reporting). It's gotta be extra creepy for you having passed through there so much. We've only been a handful of times.

Ello said...

Glad to see your back! I missed my little slice of Japan!