Tuesday, March 11, 2008

the half-life of humiliation

i had meant to write about this back in december, but as things did not develop as i hoped, i was feeling less than excited to share until, of course, i came up with a catchy title.
every december, most companies and schools throw large year-end parties for their employees. the party is called bonenkai, literally a party to forget the year (and a party to forget the party itself too, as you'll see later). at my school, they're overnight affairs that do not include spouses.

this is the one social event of the entire year where most people let themselves drink too much, and naughty behavior is forgiven. this is one of my favorite nights of the year because many people will spend every other day avoiding me like a cancerous rat, but finally, after enough tiny beers, they will get up the nerve to chat.
we were a little late, so we arrived after the speeches and were able to dig right in. not bad! after many people had refilled my beer glass, and i had reciprocated, we had the challenging Drunk Bingo in Japanese Numbers. then we all circulated and chatted and drank. i ended up at a table with the famous mr. M and another man, i'll call him mr. wisteria. mr. wisteria and i had never talked. i thought he was interesting, but he doesn't hang out with the other young teachers, and i imagined his english was not good. but mr. m skittered off, and suddenly we were talking! his english was much better than i guessed, he was asking me questions, and i was enjoying myself immensely. we made a few jokes, and he mentioned wishing to practice english more. i had many burning questions of my own, but alas, suddenly the party ended, and he was compelled to help out some very inebriated companions. just as he left the room i swear he said, "see you at shinbashi (a restaurant)...i hope..."
well! how nice.
after that, me and the two office girls took a cab to a karaoke bar and i had my first really great time at karaoke. i was extremely sad to have to leave after only an hour, but the onsen at the hotel was going to close, and we all definitely needed a bath. the place was really beautiful too, with outdoor pools, and the air temperature was perfect for soaking.
thinking i was on good ground with mr. wisteria, and wishing to encourage future conversation, i left a little note in his mailbox before i left for christmas just saying i had a good time and would love to talk sometime. apparently this = marriage proposal if i can gather anything from his behavior since then. when i returned from the states, i was thrust through a time warp into middle school when boys who liked you ran screaming, or at best, pulled your hair and snapped your bra.
we locked eyes uncomfortably, and after that, things only got worse. when we met in a doorway, he actually fell all over himself to get out of my way in the style of a frightened rabbit being pummeled with red hot spoons. after such a nice conversation, to cause such hysterical agitation stings a little. it was like he had no recollection at all of our nice talk. i don't care if he's gay or has a girlfriend; i just honestly wanted to talk to someone new. but i forgot men and women are not friends here.
so now it's been over three months, and what i want to know is when will this feeling of bewilderment and awkwardness fade? how long is the half-life of humiliation!?

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