Tuesday, December 20, 2005

What Can You Do?

Funny how a good night's sleep, followed by a good breakfast and several cups of good coffee can turn the previous day's attitude right around.

Also funny is how a couple of drinks too many in the evening can flush that turnaround right down the toilet.

Today I woke up in the same funk that I went to bed with the night before. But after I got to work and had a cup of coffee, things started to seem okay with the world. After I taught my classes, things seemed even better, although the cleanup I asked the students to do during sixth period play practice didn't really happen.

Tomorrow is our Christmas Mass and Christmas Assembly. The first grade students will be performing a scene and a dance from the play we are doing. I will also be singing a song in the "gaijin" band made up of Jack, Chris (exchange student from Australia), Nikolai (exchange student from New Zealand), and me.

We had our rehearsals this afternoon. They went well enough, except for the fact that a fuse blew somewhere and our auditorium was without stage lighting. You know, other than that.

By the end of the day, I was feeling alright. I was even chuckling at my self of the previous day. "What a nabob."

Then, in the evening, we had a party. It was a combination welcome party/farewell party. We welcomed three new staff members and said farewell to one.

We had a nice Italian dinner. I had some nice Italian beer. I was feeling alright.

The call went out to go to the second party. This is a pretty common thing with Japanese company outings. There's the first party, which is usually held at a fancy restaurant of some kind. People "start off" with beer and then proceed on to sake or other, harder drinks.

This is actually an amusing scene at parties.

It starts with, "What's everybody want to drink?" The people responsible for organizing the party ask around before placing the drink order. You will generally hear, without fail, two or three voices that say, "Toriaezu biiru." ["I'll start off with beer (and then move on to something harder later)."] These are the people that look the worst at work the next day.

Beer, then liquor, never sicker. Liquor, then beer, all's clear.

So anyway, following the first party, there's usually a second party in which most of the participants move on to a smaller hostess bar with karaoke and cheap whiskey.

Which is where we ended up. Club Beluga. Not exactly the best name for a hostess club.

It was fun for a while, but after a bit, the group to the left of me was talking about their thing, the group to the right of me was talking about their thing, and I was sitting in the middle, excluded from both conversations.

This was both by fortune and design.

I'm not a mean drunk. I talk. A LOT. Which is pretty impressive considering the source. Part of it was being tired from work. Part of it was the cheap whiskey on the rocks I was drinking. Part of it was that I had tried to make a joke and nobody understood it, and I just felt dumb and annoyed.

I got grumpy.

I was trying to figure out how to get out of there.

It was a lot like the classic patter of foreigner-at-Japanese company party.


Finally, the time came to leave. But the happiness and general better outlook on life that I had that morning was nowhere to be seen. I was back to "What the hell am I doing here?" mode.

I didn't even want to be around anybody, so when the call went out for "Who wants a ride?", I just said, "I'll walk."

And so I walked home.

Apparently, I wasn't looking so good, because a couple of the other teachers kept asking me if I was okay. I wasn't okay, but it was more of bad-mood-not-okay than drunk-not-okay.

"I'm fine. I just want to walk home."

I made a stop at the 7-11 to pick up the perfect hangover-buster drink, the thing that stops hangovers before they happen.

Ukon no Chikara.

The Power of Tumeric.

Powerful stuff. One small bottle of that after a night out, and you're good to go the next day.

Back home, and off to bed. Lovely end to a lovely day.


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