Ice To See You
Gaijin Girl would later confess to me that meeting me was 'the most important experience in my (Gaijin Girl's) life thus far. Seeing you for the first time I was stunned...speechless even. You were like a God who had decided to visit us mortals just to see what it was like. The muscles rippling under your shirt was like a couple of weasels fighting over a tuna sandwich. And your commanding voice...so powerful. Like every word that came out of your mouth was carved out of lightning.'
(Gaijin Girl: That is so not the sort of thing I'd say.
Me: Just go with it.
Gaijin Girl: How do you carve words out of lightning anyway?
Me: Shut up.)
So after about a year of corresponding with Gaijin Girl I'd finally caught up with her, in Japan of all places. She was sitting by the front of some bar when Chris, Nick and myself staggered through the door with Hannah, Ceigen's daughter, who was making sure we didn't stumble into anything sharp. 'We been having shots of sake.' I explain drunkenly, 'Thass why the world's wobbly!'
Gaijin Girl and I sit and chat for a while about Japan. I berate her for not speaking Japanese. Talk moves on to my cousin Josh, the microbiologist, who Gaijin Girl knows coincidentally enough and then, inevitably, to the Jacobites.
'Do you know much about the Jacobites?' she asked.
'Oh sure.' I say offhandedly. I turn to Chris. 'Yo Encyclopedia Brown,' I belch, 'Jacobites.'
'They're the guys who supported James VII after he fled England in around....1689 because he supported the Roman Catholic Church. "Jacob" being an alternate name for James, hence Jacobites. It was when William of Orange came from....etc, etc.'
The Absolut Ice Bar: Gaijin Girl, knowing that I'm a sucker for gimmicky things, had booked us into the Absolut Ice Bar, Tokyo. At about $40 a head to get in, the place is like Superman's Fortress of Solitude that serves vodka based cocktails. Made entirely out of ice, customers can only be inside for 45 minutes until they freeze to death so we went straight to the bar and started drinking. 'So...this is what it's like to be an Eskimo.' I muse.
'We're drinking purple things. Did you want one?'
'Does the Pope piss his name in the snow?'
We drink 'em quickly.
Mugambo's: Or Mambo's. Yojimbo's. Or something like that. This was the next bar that Gaijin Girl took us to. Hannah, who had said that she was only going to have one drink, is probably on her eighth by now. After wandering down a few wrong alleyways we find this place. The barmen are Irish and the customers seem to all be English. We order drinks. I look up. 'Whassa?' I ask, pointing upwards. The whole ceiling is covered with polaroids of various grinning customers. 'That's what you get when you buy the entire bar a round of shots.'
I like the idea.
'Nick, Chris. Give me 20,000 yen (about two hundred dollars).'
'W..why?' asks Nick.
'Jes...Jest do it. I'll 'xplain later.'
'This is a stupid idea.' says Gaijin Girl, 'How am I going to afford a taxi home?'
'It's the best idea I've had all night. We'll be immortals Gaijin Girl. Immortals! Our faces will be up there with the thousands of other people up there that no one cares about.'
High Riders: After being escorted out of the bar, without having bought everyone in the bar a drink, I stagger outside followed by the others. Walking down the street we come across a...Biker Bar? No, not a biker bar. A bike memorabilia store that sells alcohol. How bizarre. The owner is having a chat with a long haired customer at the front. Seconds later we are seated at the bar, having a look around the place. There's bike helmets, leather jackets, imitation WWI fighter pilot goggles and assorted other stuff. Ted, the owner, and his wife set this place up because of their love of all this stuff. Adding alcohol in the mix was a touch of genius. We stay, we drink, Gaijin Girl goes on a bike ride through Tokyo with Ted, and we meet the long haired dude at the front, Ko, who happens to live in Berlin. We make plans to see him when we get to Germany.