I’ve mentioned previously that I joined a gaijin bookclub a few months ago, largely made up of elderly retired males and frumpy housewives with no interest in tea ceremony lessons (I guess these are the only expats with enough time on their hands to actually sit around and read stuff). I like them all very much, but only one of the other members has become a close friend: partly because he is exactly the same age as me, but mainly because I simply admire him as a person. I also respect the way that he speaks so lovingly of his wife and child, in a way that is very different from Japanese males.
One day after a meeting, I asked him out for a quick coffee so that we could continue our fascinating conversation for a bit longer. He readily agreed, but as we were walking down the road, he suddenly stopped and put a hand on my shoulder. “Miko,” he said sternly, “I want to make something clear. There will be no romance, okay?”
Well! It was all I could do not to snort and blurt out, “Don’t flatter yourself, mister! I wouldn’t do you for the practice!” Because frankly, I wouldn’t. But I did appreciate his honesty, and his willingness to lay it on the line. In any event, we’ve decided to stick with the group from now on, and not ever be seen going off anywhere by ourselves – not so much to avoid the ghastly prospect of romance (snort!) as to avoid being a target of gossip and innuendo (at the age of 42!).
God, I can’t wait to get old, so I don’t have to put up with this shit anymore. Will I ever get to a stage where I won’t have to worry about what folks think?