For those of you afraid to travel, fearful that danger lurks around every corner, certain that muggers spying your fanny pack and camera might mark you as made, Japan should be the first international stop out of the neighborhood cul de sac. Undoubtedly, Japan is the safest place for a traveler.
Just don’t come to our neighborhood when you arrive. Because I live in it. I move about this hood unremarkable to those who pass. Most passersby don’t cast a second glance in my direction, unless curious as to my close genetic ties to Howard Stern, possibly in the form of his female twin. They usually only notice the children by my side who inherited good genes from their father, but otherwise, I am undistinguishable amongst the ExPat, late-40’s crowd. I blend – perfect for my ruse- as I am the bane of the block. No one would suspect I could wreak such havoc in one day. Not only am I bad to the bone, the members of my gang are equally twisted establishing the bond which keeps our covey in tact. The debacles this week tumbled one after the other as I progressed from one scene to the next….The snakebit neighbors could only watch in consternation as their happy place tumbled further in to my fetid domain.
Some of you readers may remember me bragging about the delicious, mouth-watering bolgogi (Korean Barbeque) available here at Costco and the further explanation of the mini table top grill secured later on which to cook this feast. Well, I have been cooking bolgogi on the table top grill at least once a week for quite some time now with one issue of concern arising on each occasion. Smoke. Lots of it. Since I am a sensible woman, and leery of attracting the fire department, I moved the table top grill to the outside table. Problem solved. The grill surface encompasses a small 12×7 pan size top, so one can imagine that it takes some time to get the meat cooked. I sit on the deck, with my phone, play Solitaire, threaten the Offspring not to open the sliding glass doors, and hope that smoke inhalation is not my cause of death. I have been vexed as to why our apartment is still filled with smoke when my grilling is complete. So much smoke, in fact, that I had to re-do my folded laundry after the last smoking session. What I did not know, however, was that I also filled the other two apartments on our floor with smoke. This alerted the management to the apparent contraband in my possession.
Consequently, I was busted by the man for possession of illegal material, and my grill was promptly banned from the premises. Apparently grills are not to be used on the decks. I of course appealed, my argument based on the premise of the legality of my table top teriyaki plate, not grill, which happened to be used outside, therefore was not illicit or illegal material. The judge swayed by this definition of terms ordered instead that I not choke the neighbors again. Now that I’m known to have had “contraband” some neighbors have approached asking in hushed tones if I can obtain certain items- my reputation as a woman who can “get things” having grown. Of course I oblige. I charge them a smidgen above what Amazon Japan charges me for shipping.
The following story spread faster than Charlie Sheen’s interview. I rode my Mama Cheri (Bike with two baskets) to the store for my daily supply run. I stopped to get laundry detergent at one store, put it in the back basket, parked, went in the grocery store, shopped, hopped on the bike, and rode home. I unloaded my bags but couldn’t find the laundry detergent. “Damn- it must’ve fallen out when I went over the curb.” It was then I realized my bike was red. When I bought my Mama Cheri, I really wanted a red or pink one, but neither color was available. Although I didn’t recall what color my Mama Cheri was, I knew it wasn’t red. This wasn’t my bike. I jumped on and pedaled faster than the Wicked Witch of the West- her theme song playing in my mind through out my race back to the scene of my crime. I skidded on to the grocery store side-walk just in time to encounter a confused Japanese woman walking up and down the row of bikes obviously searching, and not finding, hers. I rode up, “Kore ii deska?” the closest I could get to “Is this yours?” She nodded guardedly. I threw it at her, bowed like a bobbing cork float 15 times low, said I was sorry 30 times, grabbed what I hoped was my bike, according to the pictures I took on my blog post it was, and rode off before she could call the popo. Now, everyone in the hood has been encouraged to lock their bikes.
Finally, in the coup de grace, one of my homeys extended our gang’s reign of terror at a recent wedding shower. One of those edge- of -your- seat games was in full swing- “name all the famous couples you can think of, ” in 5 minutes. The person with the most wins the door prize. Homey got a text from an international private school forcing her to pause from the furious list making. The hostess, mistaking her text reading for internet searching, accused her of cheating and game fixing. She was summarily ejected without appeal. An international ban on wedding shower attendance is currently in place for this particular thug and all neighbors have been advised to report her to the appropriate authorities should they witness her in disguise or in character as one of her aliases. She’s a real bad seed that one.
People, this is how we roll in my hood.
So folks, except for this particular area, yes, Japan is a very safe place, a country where one can safely walk the streets alone, night or day whether male or female. If one drops a wallet, it will get turned in to the nearest Koban station (police box) on the corner- with all the contents in place. Cab drivers don’t take advantage of foreigners. The change is always right.
But do be careful in my hood, and you heard it from me….