Saturday, December 17, 2005


Fools keep hating

If there's one thing worse than loud, obnoxious, drunken gaijin on the train, it's loud, obnoxious, drunken Japanese racists on the train. And if there's one thing that's even worse than the previous two things put together, it's- well- the previous two things put together, as it turns out.

Allow me to elucidate that first paragraph.

After the Shinsaibashi Conversation Cafe party last night, I allowed Wes to talk me into going to another party in Kyoto. I made my decision about five seconds before the train doors slammed shut. Five seconds after they'd slammed shut, I was really regretting my choice.

The reason for my sinking heart was that Wes was doing what Wes does best: being drunk and gregarious. A ghastly, ghastly mix of broken English, broken Japanese and broken furniture (if there happens to be any breakable furniture nearby- thankfully, there wasn't.) Having secured my presence on the Kyoto train, he set about endearing himself to the other passengers.

Straight away, a Mouthy Japanese Racist (hereafter MJR) picked up on the fact that we were drinking beer.

MJR: Hey, drinking beer on the train is not allowed.

WES: Yeah, but drinking beer on the train is delicious.

This point, made in passable Japanese, was conceded gracefully enough by the MJR and it seemed we would get along fine. As the packed train progressed, however, Wes carried on battering away to an old boy next to him, unfortunately stuck on the two or three phrases of Japanese he could remember in his polluted state. The old boy was quite charmed by the attention, but the MJR and his cronies began sneering about this, which I was prepared to let pass.

However, emboldened by the zero reaction they were eliciting, the MJR started complaining louder and louder about how certain people were drinking beer on the train and they shouldn't be, until the point where he was turned around announcing this at the top of his voice to our backs. The Japanese guy I was talking to was suddenly gazing apprehensively at his shoes and I was getting properly fed up. I turned round and cranked the volume up a few notches.

DAN: Do you want me to throw you on the fucking train track?

MJR: I don't speak English!

DAN: You want me to fucking smack you about?

MJR (sneering at the fact that I'm not addressing him in Japanese): I don't understand!

DAN (brandishing a fist): Do you understand this?!

(the above bilingual exchange of cultural viewpoints has brought the carriage to an ear-burning silence, the MJR also seems to have run out of things to say)

DAN : You just carry on talking to your friends and I'll talk to mine, OK? Good night.

This last incongruous line delivered in Japanese, I turned round and carried on talking to the youngish student type I'd been talking to before, conscious of a few giggles and murmurs of appreciation from other passengers. He said that the MJR was properly offended because we were drinking on the train and Japanese people don't do that. I told him that this was a crock. He looked dubious, but having seen my previous lyrical heroics he wasn't prepared to argue.

At this point, Wes gave his Guinness to the old boy, who drank it with every sign of appreciation. The student type looked glum.

For the record, we didn't make it to Kyoto.

good title.
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