Tokyo Journal 2003: Day 2, Part 2

February 7th, 2003

8 PM

After Comiket, Emi had arranged for us to meet her cousin, who works for an anime company. (They do several well known titles, including a few of my and Pattie’s favorites.) We took the brand new Rinkai line (so new Emi didn�t know it, because when it opened not a month before she hadn’t been in Tokyo.) The trains were all gleaming and new and some of them were automatic, with no conductor) back to Shinjuku.

I was holding on to Pattie, trying not to pass out. I barely spoke, which is not my usual state. I was mostly staring at the ground, staying upright. The train made me really sick, and it was with great relief that I stumbled out into the Shinjuku night.

It was a real shame that I couldn’t appreciate Shinjuku that night. I’d love to go back and spend a lot more time there until I knew the area. It’s got several main streets and a ton of teeny little “snickleways.” (A snickelway is a term from York, England, for a little alley that winds around all over the place with no apparent order.) Shinjuku has a little of the same qualities of Times Square (especially before Mayor Giuliani cleaned it up) and a little Herald Square and a lot of Greenwich Village. (I was about to say just “The Village” but I realized not all of you are from NYC and wouldn’t know what I mean.) Shinjuku is home to the Nichome, the gay and lesbian area of Tokyo, about which I will write more later.

Emi and her cousin were going to take us somewhere, but either they couldn’t find it, or something (I’ll be honest, I was so lost in my self-pity I wasn’t paying attention) so we headed back the way we came and ended up in a magnificent restaurant that I barely noticed. It was really nice, from what I remember – all wood floors and benches that hugged the tables, that snuggled the cooking areas. I’d love to go back …the food was, apparently excellent. I was unable to eat a thing. The slow burn of my last reserves just stopped and I totally, utterly crashed at dinner.

Emi’s cousin was really nice – she’s been to the US, and speaks very good English, and she was funny, and I wasn’t. My verbal skills dropped down to monosyllabic grunts, and it was everything I could do to not be sick. While Pattie and the rest ate fresh made tofu, chicken a mushroom dish, I could barely keep my eyes open. I sipped at some tea and prayed for the gods to kill me now. I would have paid everything I had to go home at that moment.

Pattie, on the other hand, was snarfing down the food, exclaiming at its excellence all the while. Pattie asked what everything was, when it came out, because the menu was all in handwritten Japanese with no pictures and Emi and her cousin had ordered for us. Emi pointed at things – this is chicken, this is tofu, and this is “something else.” She totally could not remember what she had ordered. Pattie loved the “something else.”

Several times I fell asleep at the table and she had to poke me awake – it did not endear her to me. Aside from just being mortifying in general, I was really feeling worse than I ever had without being genuinely ill.

Ultimately, after I fell asleep about six times in a matter of minutes, we cut the evening short. I felt terrible about it, but I just couldn’t stay awake. I did manage to get a mouthful of food in and I will say that the homemade tofu was excellent. With luck, I’ll get back and be able to enjoy it the next time.

The worst part about all this was that Pattie seemed perfectly fine – I completely resented that. By the time I got back to the hotel, I was shaking so hard that I could barely stand up. It felt like every bone in my body had turned to jelly. When I finally managed to sleep, I had the weirdest dreams of Otakon and having Susan Sarandon as an old schoolmate.

Next time: The Wonders of TV

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