Daughter of the Rising Sun

May 29, 2012 at 11:47 am (Sweet sticky things, Waxing Nostalgic)

Like a tiny beacon of brilliance growing on the horizon in the morning, she is back.

My Japanese pen-pal is okay.

With phrases like “Asian schoolgirl in uniform” and “teenage girl and old man” in this post, it oughta be worth about a million views, right? It’s neither as salacious or innocent as it sounds. I met a young girl, formed a friendship, and got a lot of dirty looks and tsk-tsk’s along the way.

It all started on 82nd Avenue…

Seven or eight years ago, I was much fatter and trying to do something about it. I started going to 24-Hour Fatness, and the commute transferred at 82nd and Washington. As I piled off the 82nd Avenue bus with dozens of others, I saw my connecting bus pass by. We all started running for it, but the driver pulled away before I could make it. I threw up a middle finger and yelled, “Asshole!”

“Excuse please, what is ‘ass-a-hole’?” A demure Asian girl in the classic schoolgirl outfit was looking up at me, at once amused and terrified. I’m pretty sure I was one of the strangers she was advised not to talk to.

“Um, sorry about that. Bad word.” How the HELL does a gentleman explain to a non-English-speaking youngster a word like that.

I danced around the physical description, choosing to focus on the attitude. I tried a few adjectives, and got to ‘snooty’. “You know, snooty? Like the British?” I stuck my nose in the air and pretended to be snooty.

“No, I have been to England,” she said in her broken English. “They are not snoo-oo-ty. British people are ass-a-holes.”

I laughed until I cried. I heard in my head the White Stripes singing, “I can tell that we are gonna be friends…”

Misa was her name, a foreign exchange student from Tokyo. She would be attending the religious-based high school across from my gym. Talk about inspiration to get up and go work out.

We would see each other two or three times a week. I’d pretend not to know her on the 82nd bus, I think her housemates also rode and would not have approved. But once we transferred to the The Ass-a-hole’s bus, it was off the hook. Our pantomimed anecdotes charmed some, alarmed others. One bus driver chided me for hitting on the schoolgirls, only to be overrode by a regular rider who told her to butt out.

“They are just friends, having fun. Leave them alone.”

There were awkward times. One day she was riding with a couple friends, and as she got up to exit we kissed quickly on the lips. It was a spontaneous moment; we’d not kissed or even hugged more than a couple times. Her friends giggled, Misa turned an exotic pink color and I about swallowed my tongue. She smelled so heavenly, it was a flash in time I’ll never forget.

It also put me on notice. She was only sixteen at the time.

A year went by, and she was crying at the bus stop. “What’s the matter, honey?”

“I have to go back to Japan next month. I am going to miss you, Boss.”

Jailbirds and guys acting tough call me “Boss” at work and it pisses me off. I think I know why. Boss was what Misa called me. It sounds so cute coming from her tiny mouth. Don’t soil that memory, convict.

I found out her last day of school, and got to the bus stop early. Two buses passed before our regular one showed up. There was Misa, adjusting her huge backpack and plugging in headphones when she saw me. “Hi Boss! I missed you on the bus. I’m so glad you’re here! I was afraid I wouldn’t see you anymore.”

I handed her a present. I’d gone to the Dollar Store and bought her a dictionary and thesaurus, wrapping them in Sunday comics. “Find a way to get onto the internet and write me when you can, my e-mail addresses are inside the thesaurus.”

She pulled out an index card and carefully printed her name, address and e-mail info. She drew a little flower on it. It’s sitting in a box in front of me with a few other treasures I will never throw away.

We exchanged a friendly hug and she departed the bus. I thought I’d never see her again.

A month later, I was at the Upscale Mall when I saw two Asian girls getting on the escalator. I followed, thinking “Christ, I’m seeing Misa everywhere I look.” A grin spread across my face, security took note of the creepy guy following the girls-

“BOSS!” She was just as surprised as I was.

“Don’t talk to strangers, and I’m stranger than most.” We shared a hug, security went to at-ease status, and her friend looked envious of her friend’s secret life.

It was the last time I saw her in person. I received e-mail pictures of her at home, including one where she’s wearing her big brother’s nerd-glasses and looking something up in the thesaurus.

We e-mailed back and forth for a couple years, until school got intense and she lost track. She was in London, trapped in the subway with her mother during one of the bombings. Scary, but unscathed.

The earthquake ans tsunami? That had me scared for her.

I joined social networks just so I could look her up. I finally found her on Facebook. (Thank you for this if nothing else, Mister Z.) She posted a trademark picture of herself flashing the peace sign, along with three words:

“It is horrible.”

At least I knew she survived.

So, when I returned from my weekend of debauchery yesterday, dead phone, nose wearing a saddlebag, etc… what was it that gave me untold energy and sent my spirits soaring?

“Misa has confirmed you as a friend.”

A glance of her Facebook page shows the Misa I love. Pictures of her in geisha attire, in a bikini at the beach with her not-quite-as-hot friends. Her mother doesn’t know she has a smart-phone; I’m guessing this is why she’s now Facebooking. Goddamn I love technology sometimes.

Oh look, I have a message. “<3 ❤ Miss you BOSS!!!!!!!!!!"

That's my girl.

So, make all the midlife crisis, dirty old man/hot Japanese girl jokes ya want. I've heard 'em from my girlfriends past and present. I'm pretty sure they have nothing to worry about, but never say never. I learned that lesson again this week.

Misa is 23 now. At least I won’t get arrested…

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