This is post 3/21 of a 21 day blogging challenge.
It is a continuation of this post, so I suggest you read it first.
I was quick to recover from the disappointment of him not being the actor because here I was, having an expensive dinner with a well groomed, handsome man. His whole look was well put together, from the perfectly coiffed gelled hair; to the fitting, custom-made shirt clinging to his shoulders; to his manicured hands that had on clear nail polish.
The waiter came by to refill my drink. I was having a gin and tonic. Toru was having Oolong tea.
“You’re not drinking?” I asked.
“No, I have a bit of a cold so I’m taking a break tonight.”
The conversation went back and forth on various safe topics. Like the weather in Kenya. How he has never been to Africa. Why I came to Japan. An easy 20 minutes passed like this.
Then I decided to tell him the truth, about how I had thought he was the actor Toru Kazama and how excited me and my girlfriends had been. Luckily, he’s got a great sense of humor so we laughed about it because we could see the Netflix money and fame fade before our very own eyes. The good looks stayed though. He agreed that it was a hell of a coincidence.
The conversation was getting more real. We talked about my job. I asked him what he does for a living and he said he works for a company that paints buildings. I squinted my eyes briefly in suspicion because no way someone working for a monthly salary affords custom made shirts, but I didn’t say anything.
I asked about why he got divorced and he told me how he’s now basically a single dad living with his youngest child, who’s 3 years old! I revealed to him that I too have a 6 year old child. We agreed that dating is hard when you’re a single parent. There is barely any free time and most people you will meet on dates would want to spend more time with you, and maybe travel with you. Which you can’t when your children are very young.
I think he feared the conversation was taking a solemn turn because he next asked, “what are your hobbies.”
I don’t like this question.
Until recently, I was a single parent doing my PhD student and raising my child alone. I haven’t had much time for hobbies.
My hobbies are quite boring. I love reading. I love blogging. I love Netflix. I love going on a drive. Occasionally, I go on a hike with friends.
When Japanese people take a up a hobby, they dedicate hours to it and end up being very good in it.
“Oh. I just love reading. That’s it. What about you?”
I love surfing, he answered. How cool! In fact that’s why he’d gotten a cold. He’d gone surfing that past weekend. Who goes surfing in cold November!
His other hobby is working out. I could tell he was buff beneath that shirt. He also loves going for drives.
“What are you doing this coming weekend?” he asked.
“Not sure yet, why?”
“I was thinking we could take a drive to the beach. I have a house overlooking the beach.”
Would I like to go for a drive to his beach house? Hell yeah!
“Would love to.”
We smiled in acknowledgement. The second date was set.
I excused myself to go to the bathroom. His eyes escorted me out of the room.
When I came back to my seat, I saw the liquid fire in his eyes. The attraction was mutual.
Three hours flew by. It was time to pay and leave. Savanna had advised me to carry cash and a credit card. Like duh girl, we pay our own way. I don’t usually show up for a date expecting to be paid for. Most times, we go Dutch. This time, he offered to pay. I graciously accepted.
While walking towards the station, he held my hand. In public. We were walking hand in hand in public!
This is a very big deal in Japan. People don’t show affection publicly.
A few years ago in Ishikawa, I went a date with this Japanese guy who didn’t want to be seen in public with me, so he took me to a roadside parking and bought me coffee from the vending machines.
So when Toru held my hand in public, it felt really good. It’s a brave gesture because he has shown he is willing to be different in what’s probably the most conformist society on Earth.
We kind of live in the same direction so we were taking the train together about halfway.
If you live in Japan, you know there is this game we play where you try to slip into a train on the platform just before doors close. It doesn’t matter if the next train is coming in 2 minutes. I think there’s an adrenaline rush knowing you barely just made it. There are always announcements warning us not to rush and to take the next train. ドアが閉まります。次の電車をご利用ください。
When we arrived on the platform, the train was full to the brim and doors were about to close. You know what we did.
We got in microseconds before the doors shut. We were so squeezed, bodies pressed close.
For once, I didn’t mind the crowded train. There were free no hand holds so we held onto each other for balance. I would have died from blushing if my colleagues saw me, I thought.
When he kissed me goodbye, I felt like I had melted away and become one with the stars in the sky.