Curiouser and Curiouser


Got to bed late, though I was supposed to wake up early-ish in order to meet my parents at Shin Osaka station for our trip to Tokyo. I lolled in bed, dreaming of glories past, when the obnoxious trilling of my phone yanked me back to the torrid Kansai summer with a grim and sickening finality.

I groped for the phone and my groggy eyes were confused – the caller ID said “Alan,” my buddy from training who I haven’t heard from in months.

“Guess who this is!” he said, after I answered the phone with a weak “Hello”.

“Uh…” I wiped my bleary eyes and looked at my caller ID again. “… Alan?”

“Yeah! Guess where we are?”

“Umm-nuh?”

“No!”Alan said.  “We’re at the top of Mt. Fuji!”

In my sodden and stupefied state, I vaguely remembered having heard from others in our training group that Alan might be making the trek to Mt. Fuji during O-Bon, so I supposed it made sense that he might be there now.

“That’s great!” I said honestly, though not without a hint of a yawn.

“Sorry to ring you so early,” said Alan, but his voice was suddenly clipped, dry and his vowels sounded divine. “I thought it might be too early but we wanted to say hello.”

Why does Alan sound British? I thought.

“Are you okay?” asked Alan.

“Yes, I, uh, was asleep.” I mumbled, still confused.

“I told Alan it wasn’t even nine o’clock yet!” said Alan. I was further confused, because though I knew it had been a long time since I had spoken to Alan, I had no recollection of him ever speaking in the third person. Had I been so busy teaching grammar that I had lost track of the current trends in Canadian comedy?

This is what happens, you see, when you stay up too late and are awoken unexpectedly – you can fail to realize immediately that your Canadian friend has passed the phone to your British friend.

The trip to Tokyo took 2 hours on the lovely, shiny Shinkansen. After the first half hour, I texted Alan and Steve.

“Okay, now I’m awake.” I tope. “Congratulations, boys! Thank you for the wake up call but be careful with an old bird like me – I confuse easily.”

In Tokyo, the buildings are shiny, well-planned, and, apparently, my Japanese is difficult for the Tokyo folk to understand, though the Osaka folk have come to know my rhythms. Or is it that I have come to know theirs?

Yet, in the space of one afternoon and evening, I have seen zero bicycles. Thus, I am satisfied.  

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