Fireman Band Night
Date: Mar 20th, 2008 10:57:13 pm - Subscribe
Mood: In demand
The reason I've been absent for so long recently is the tragic loss of Rufus, my streamlined laptop, and the necessity of finding a replacement for him. What happened you ask? Tea got spilled on him. By me. Yay me. I wish I could say it spontaneously occurred like an act of god, but while self delusion is a prevalent hobby of the human mind, I try to place blame where blame is due. So I have a new laptop now, he's not as fast, or ruggedly handsome, or efficiently constructed but he's an industrious little guy. As such, I've named him Hephaestus. Not exactly wanted or beautiful but capable of producing beautiful things with patience. Despite the romantic sentiments of the naming process, Ill probably continue to treat him like an unwanted stepchild: mild disdain broken occasionally by periods of sympathy, followed by an irritated command to perform some menial chore.
The fireman nomikai that Maddy, Clay, David, and I went to a month or so ago has become a prelude to one of the best memories Ive constructed so far in Japan. We went to dinner at this nice chinese restaurant with a collection of firemen and their families, including Maddy's host brother, Ski-chan (5 or so years old), who obstinately refused to eat any of the food put in front of him and instead, having taken a liking to me despite my predisposed dislike of children, started to gnaw on my arm for the majority of the meal. There were colorful imprints on my arm for days. Saito-san, the fireman who's house I stayed at after the last fireman event, was there too and was thrilled with the cake I had bought for him and his family as a thank you for the care they had shown me.
The real fun came after dinner when we all went out to karaoke. It still amazes me that the majority of Japanese people here, especially Saito-san, love American music like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and Green Day. I ended up meeting a few new firemen this time as well as chatting up the ones I recognized from the last one. The older family man fireman I met for the first time figures in the next event which occurred last night. But the only significant event of interest was when we Saito-san escorted me and another young fireman home on the train. The young fireman was adorably, horrendously shy, and had been talking to me off and on all night expending little bouts of courage. It was hilarious when Saito-san blatantly pushed him to sit next to me on the train while he protested and turned beet red. Saito-san just laughed and forced him down; he's such a good friend. For the next 10 or so minutes I suppressed the desire to pet him on the head for his charmingly inept attempts at 'kinda-flirting'. He would be silent for a second and then with a queer 'eureka!' gesture, would strike upon something else to engage me with. The truly entertaining thing about this whole sequence was that Saito-san played the loyal wing man and boasted the horribly embarrassed younger guy's virtues.
Saito-san also invited us to his band's show which we attended last night.
Apparently, about once a year all the fireman around Tokyo, or sections of Tokyo, have a party at this restaurant called Esperia. Three bands, consisting of 4 or 5 of the present firemen, played and Saito-san was the main attraction. True to form, Saito-san sang songs from Green Day and Aerosmith accompanied by another vocalist woman and his amazingly skilled band. Clay, his buddy, and I were treated like celebrities. We were even invited to the front on stage while the already buzzed coordinator of the event introduced us and chatted about Oregon for a while. That, while horribly embarrassing, was merely foreshadowing for the rest of the night.
The music was extremely loud so conversation was difficult. But this didnt discourage a whole slew of young and old Japanese firemen from sitting down next to us and fighting over who would pour us drinks or light our cigarettes or talk to us. It was a little overwhelming. After I talked to seemingly every eligible fireman between the ages of 22 to 27, we had all drunk enough to be slightly buzzed and were comfortable enough to join in with the dancing. It wasnt entirely my fault that I DID dance since every time I walked from our table to the bathroom or the bar I had to pass by the large group of young males jumping around, and there was one in an orange shirt who I swear had radar cause he would always grab me and push me to the front of the crowd.
Well far be it for me to pass up a chance to dance around with 25 year old, fit, firmen, so I usually just shrugged and started jumping around with them; joining in the occasional can-can line. The whole place was jumping at that point, even mothers, sisters, and kids of the families. Myself and another young Japanese female, whom I met mid jump and befriended after a brief conversation consisting of "its so hot!" and "Im getting tired", managed to drag her laughing 40 or something mother into the pit too.
Every time we stopped back at our table to take a breather, various firemen would sit down with us and chat us up. Saito-san also made visits on his breaks to give me a high five or say how happy he was that we came. The truely climactic point of the whole evening was when Saito-san, possessing the knowledge that Clay could play the guitar, talked to the band and next thing I know there's a tambourine in my hand, a microphone in my face, and Clay with a guitar around him telling me that we're going to play Johnny Be Good. The band kept smiling at my bewildered looks while my new girlfriend held my camera up and promised to take lots of pictures. Our young male fanclub kept yelling encouragements in front of us.
Neither Clay or I knew the words to Johnny Be Good except for the chorus so one of the vocalists popped up to assist us, while Clay played amazingly well on his guitar. I had no idea he was so good. I merely danced around with the tambourine and sang the words I knew while our fanclub went nuts.
There were more than 50 people in that restaurant, and I swear every one of them came to talk to us. The older family man from the last event introduced me to his family kept trying to get his adorably shy 12 year old son to speak english to me. I made sure to drag him into the older boys dancing so that he'll hopefully have some good memories of strange foreign girls dancing with him and feel more included with the young bucks too.
Upon leaving a few of the more consistent visitors to our table insisted on hugging me 3 times before leaving and kept shaking Clays hand repeatedly. Saito-san invited us to the after party which I attented but Clay took his visiting friend home for the night.
The after party was a calm affair with more relaxed conversation. I got to practice some pretty intense Japanese with this really nice just-married couple (the girl was so cute!). And the bassist talked to me about which band position is considered coolest in America. I answered with my own opinion that the order usually went bassist, drums, guitar, others to which the guitarist laughed, fell backwards, and questioned me further as to why.
They didnt let me pay for anything at the after party, and Saito-san made sure I got home okay like the amazing person that he is; Im so happy I got to him better. He also enthusiastically reassured us that he would let us know when the next event was.
Overall the whole night was a huge ego boost, and extremely exhausting. I cant believe Im even awake now. But the pictures are amazing, I experienced a Japanese concert-like atmosphere, and I have memories that will never lose their initial intensity.
And on that satiated note, Ill end things for today. Until next time!
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