The Status Quo

Sean, who is usually so calm, cool and collected is now showing signs of stress in his final days in Japan. Normally, he’s the one to decipher manuals, read maps and break down a task step by step. He’s the one who never reveals too much to strangers or even to friends. He’s the one who never kicks himself the next day for having said something silly. If Sean does make a mistake, it’s generally inspired by greed – too many sausages at dinner, too many beers, too many episodes of The Office late at night. But now he’s packing, planning his post-Japan travels and fielding his relatives’ increasingly frequent demands of, “So you’re coming home – What next?” Sean was one of the many for whom living in Japan was a lifelong dream – he never thought of much beyond that. Now that it’s over … what next, indeed? So he’s forgetting his photo when he needs to apply for a tourist Visa. He’s getting lost on the way to an embassy. He’s locking himself out of the apartment. He’s misreading the instructions on the ESTA site and paying $50 to register when the $50 is actually for an application manual he doesn’t need.

“What’s going on, Sean?” Meir and I ask. “What happened to Mr. Perfect?”

Most telling, though, is his recent habit of leaving his Facebook account logged in when he’s not at the computer.

Sean should know better than this. Surely he must sense the vengeful anger in my gaze as I calmly survey his moves at the computer; seething and waiting. Waiting for my chance to avenge the many wrongs he’s done me by taking advantage of my own forgetfulness and changing my Facebook status update to something unseemly. E is in the bathroom making noises. E is letting a big one rip. E is a loud American! E is too selfish to make Sean a measly toastie! Etc. Etc. I should know better, too, and I’ve come to guard my computer time with severity.

When Sean started leaving his Facebook account open, I knew something was weighing heavy on his mind so, naturally, I jumped at the chance to avenge my honor. In the past week, Sean has been quick like a bunny, hungry like the wolf, and has even revoked his Irish citizenship for a beautiful blue American passport. He’s also been in the mood to wear polka dots. Did you know that Sean is also a little girl? He is – he’s a little girl with pigtails. He’s a little girl with pigtails, riding a tricycle.

He discovers my revenge and howls in outrage – both because I’ve dared to suggest he is sympathetic to America and because I’ve somehow outwitted him.

“Sean thinks E is a child!” he fumes in his new status updates. “A 5 year-old child!”

“How’s that medicine of yours taste?” I shoot back nastily.

“I can’t figure out how you’re doing this,” he complains. “You must have found out my password!”


“You did!”

“Nope. You’re leaving your account logged in.”

“I wouldn’t do that! That’s what YOU do!”

“Well, I guess you’re just as addle-brained as me these days.”


It’s 2 in the morning and I can hear Sean’s voice in the darkness. The neon ridiculousness of the next door Supa Tamade sign floods a constant florescent glow in my bedroom and I look at my hands, wringing my bedsheets.

“E!” Sean whispers. “Are you crying?”

“No.” I say, wiping my wet cheeks as though he can see me.

“You are!”

“A little bit,” I admit.

“What’s the matter?” he asks. “Are you still upset about the movie earlier?”


“Then what, so?”

“I don’t know.”

“You’re probably stressed about moving,” he says. “Packing, going back home, saying goodbye.”

I pause.

“Yes,” I say. “That’s why I’m crying.”


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