Today will be the first in a continuing series of posts about men who dress up as women. After all, since we are talking about cultural differences, why not add another layer? Especially when it’s so hilariously fun.
Alright, now that we’re rid of everyone from the far right…we can set the scene.
Near my school, there is a nice little French bar run by a very cheerful Japanese man (who worked at the consulate in France for years). His bar has about ten seats, and is attached to the liquor store that his parents run. We warmed to each other because we speak about the same amount of French – little to none, but enough to handle ordering drinks!
The best features of this place are:
1) You can buy any bottle of wine at his Parents’ liquor store and bring it into the bar for free. Brilliant on so many levels, not least of which being “price” and “selection”.
2) He cooks! Every week, he offers a of small Japanese-French fusion dishes. From smoked salmon garlic toast to “takenoko pork stew”, there is always something tasty.
3) Its kind of like the Japanese version of Cheers. The same people go there all the time, and its reaaaaaallly small, so you almost have to talk to strangers. It rocks.
The owner is really an upstanding chap. He asks that I call him “Shin-chan”, as Japanese people make friendly nicknames by adding “chan” to the first syllable of a name. (They also happen to use –chan between lovers, and for girls under 16… so basically anyone who isn’t a –san…)
In any case, the “community” aspect of the place came out in force over golden week, when Shin-chan organized a BBQ at the nearby Tama River. By the way, there is a river near my school. It’s nice.
Kaori, my co-teacher, enjoys the calm before the drinking.
So, this barbeque had a price tag of 3000 yen, which very reasonably included a wide selection of tasty meat, seafood, noodles, salad and more.
It also included a bottomless helping of drinks from the bar. If you ever happen to be a drinking-related situation in Japan, the word you want is “nomehodai”. Please take a moment to write that down, class.
Ok, got that? Good.
By the time I’d dragged myself out of bed and arrived at the crack of noon, Shin-chan was set up nicely by the river with two kegs and a crate of 1.5L bottles of wine. Sweet.
Further still adding to the hilarious-ity was a large group of powder blue clad 14 year old girls. Now, you may think that it would be odd to bring a group of underage girls to a drinking party, but the Japanese don’t see drinking in front of kids as an issue. It turns out that Shin-chan’s daughter happens to play on the same team as one of my students!
Best of all: they’re a “Handball” team. I certainly resisted the urge to turn that particular title into an impromptu lesson on vulgar English.
So… great party.
What was the kicker, you ask? What made this admittedly common occurrence merit my abduction of fifteen odd minutes of your time to read this?
Yes, Mi-kun (which actually means “dude” in Japanese, or so I was told), is a forty something year old salaryman. During the week, he wears a suit, rides the train, and probably smokes like the Springfield tire fire*– all in the tried and true tradition of the Japanese salarayman. On weekends, however, he busts out a very special outfit. To introduce the sheer awesomeness of this outfit, we will play a very special game that is only available on my wonderful adventure-filled website.
Spot the Drag Queen.
Ah, sweet drag queen-ery. Kaori informed me that Mi-kun is actually a regular at the bar. Apparently, s/he also came to the barbeque of the previous year, but no one talked to hier. I also suck at mixing my male and female pronouns. What I don’t suck at, though, is adapting my inate English teaching ability for the target audience. So, I am happy to report that I taught Mi-kun how to use the word “Fabulous”. After all, when forty years of age you reach, look as good you will not. Especially if a man wearing a tiny miniskirt you are.
Oh, Mikun did much better at the BBQ this year. S/he made lots of new friends…. Which leads us to the special LIGHTNING ROUND of “Spot The Drag Queen”…
I want to point out two very important things.
1) Drag Queens make everything funnier.
2) I have no shame. Even when it comes to giving out backrubs to EVERYONE sitting at the table in the bar afterwards.
* - Obscure? Maybe. Think “the Simpsons”