Wednesday, October 12, 2005

In the Navy!

We'll sail the seven seas!

That was for my good buddy The Tsar.

Yesterday, I came into the staff room and found a letter on my desk. It was addressed to me, but the return address merely said:

Whoa. I've never received an official business letter from my own country before. Cool!
The letter was an invitation to a reception aboard the USS Lassen, a ship recently added to the 7th Fleet and stationed in Yokosuka. The USS Lassen landed at Sakimori Port today, and will be in the area until Saturday while the crew participates in some activities in the area and generally tries to spread some international goodwill.
So...what does the USS Lassen coming to Muroran have to do with lil' ol' civilian me? I'm glad you asked!
Tomorrow, our basketball team will play a game against a team from the Lassen. I will be translating and otherwise helping out the crew of the Lassen. How Starfish High's basketball team got invited to play basketball against the crew of a Navy vessel is beyond my capacity for understanding. Yes, we are the best team in Muroran, but that's not really saying much.

So anyway, me and my official invitation from the U.S. government (and Starfish High's principal) hopped in a cab and headed out to Sakimori Port this evening. I think we passed through about five checkpoints on the way to the ship.

We had our credentials checked, passed through the final gate, and headed toward the ship. I was geeking out like a madman. "Oh, wow, this is so cool! A Navy destroyer! Cool!" Then I saw the patrol guards with automatic rifles slung over their shoulders and thought that maybe I should quit geeking out so much and try and look respectable. On deck, I showed the guard my invitation, and some I.D. I never thought I would have to break out the Oregon Driver's License over here.

The reception was really nice. Cocktail shrimp, roast beef sandwiches, ham and cheese sandwiches (tiny ones, of course), punch, California wine (they were stationed in San Diego before being transferred to the 7th Fleet), sweet-'n-sour meatballs, spicy chicken legs, chocolate covered strawberries, freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies (see also: pure heaven)...

...and Samuel Adams beer. That's some good beer, that is. The high holy hoidy toidies from the city government were eminently pleased with Sam. Good eats, good drinks, good conversation...

I met and talked with some of the crew. Nice folks, very diplomatic. They seemed to be enjoying it over here in Japan. I also met the American Consul for the Consulate in Sapporo, Mr. Ogier. He's an extremely nice fellow, and we had a good talk about life in Hokkaido. It's nice to have people like him representing us over here.

There were some souvenirs on sale, so I picked up a commemorative coin (seen here on top of a napkin with the national seal on it...I can't believe I wiped my face on the national seal...does that make me a bad person, or do I have good personal hygiene?). I also picked up a coffee mug for work. I figured I can use it to get some bragging rights, especially with some of the other teachers going, "How come you get to go and I don't?" Well, being proficient in both English and Japanese HAS ITS PERKS! QYB!

One member of the crew and I had a really nice conversation about this, that, and the other thing. He's been all around the Pacific and Indian Oceans, participated in several events coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII, and he's from Washington State. Go, Pac NW! Anyway he gave Starfish High's principal and I each a commemorative bottle of water from the USS Missouri. "Makes for a good story, so keep the bottle!" Well put.

Time for bed. I need to be rested so I can translate/cheer on my students tomorrow.

"In the Navy, yes, you can sail the seven seas.
In the Navy, yes, you can put your mind at ease..."


Blogger Sizzlean said...

did you win?

Thursday, October 13, 2005 11:50:00 PM  

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