Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sappmoresnow

Hi guys. Remember how this was supposed to be a blog about my observations, cunning and witty and wry, about Japan? Including, but not limited to, the people, the food, the culture and the WEATHER?

Turns out I should be more observant.

For whilst I was blissfully typing away about the snow, and how it was light, and how it would all melt away as it touched the ground and how we wouldn't see any more for weeks... This was happening:





NB: Look out the window.

Pajamas were immediately discarded, in favour of the aforementioned winter outfit. And we frolicked. Oh did we frolick. Aravin ran around like a border collie.

Right at this moment, I wouldn't be anywhere else on earth.






Except maybe I would go back in time to when this last was taken and arrange my face differently.

Sapporsnow

My Facebook newsfeed is very confused at the moment. More so even than usual, when feminist activism follows photos of girls dressed as bunnies for Halloween follows pictures of my father clutching fish follows news items about people unknowingly getting penises (penii?) tattooed on their backs. The changing of the seasons is occurring in both the places in the world that I have called home (Narnia does not count, unfort) - but in one, a tepid but wet winter is slowing morphing into an intermittent spring, and in the other a raging, feverous summer has backhanded the whole population with a stormy, earthquake-y winter. So while half my friends are leaving delighted exclamatory comments about their tan and bikini lines, the other half are bemoaning the fact that they have not yet purchased their "Yak Tracks" (to those not in the know, as I was not, these are weirdo rubbery spikey thingamies that you slip over your existing shoes in order to gain purchase on icy ground and avoid ass contact with the same. Much like the spikes on soccer shoes, I am told, as I would know, had I ever engaged in sport).

I'm not sure if I'm jealous of the former or simply pleased to be part of the latter. I've known many warm Octobers, where one combines woolly hats with denim shorts in order to best straddle the seasons. I've spent many days pretending to study for end-of-year exams with text-books spread over my face to avoid further reddening my prominent nose. But I've never had a winter start as violently and uncompromisingly as the one I now find myself experiencing. IT'S ONLY OCTOBER. I have not yet seen Halloween, and yet, I have seen snow.

Behold:

video

(Does the video even work? Have I attempted to blog beyond my skills?! If so, just pretend it works, for me. So you can do it convincingly, I pan around for a while, looking at snow, get briefly confused by a smudge on the window that looks like a crow, and then get startled when Aravin sneezes - loudly - beside me. I am M. Night Shamalalmalamalan. Or someone else who makes movies. Does the M stand for "Mid"? Interesting).

Do you enjoy the moment at the end where Manfriend sneezes and looks bewildered? I do. It reminds me somewhat of Winnie the Pooh. I also think it is an apt salute to winter, much more suitable than a round of applause or a stately bow.

The POINT of the video though is not to show how ridiculous Aravin looks when forced out of bed at 6am to stare at the window, but to show you want had me staring out the window, spilling my coffee (DEATH) and bellowing at my Manfriend.

SNOW.

Though it is true that I live on the eleventh floor and that the snow was largely rain by the time it hit the ground; though it is also true that "It isn't snow unless it sticks"; though it cannot be denied that by 11am the sun was shining and there was no proof that it had ever happened, winter has come to Sapporo. I knew I would be excited when the first snow fell. It meant I got to wear my boots and my favourite fur coat and my new woolly hat. It meant I got to stick out my hand and catch snow flakes (slash icy sleet). It meant I got sit on the subway and veritably stew in my ridiculous number of layers and new Icebreakers fresh from home (thanks Ma). I am told that from tomorrow the weather will warm back up to a temperate 15 degree high and we won't see proper snow again for some weeks, but I feel gratified by my first experience in true falling snow.

I had other things to talk about but I've forgotten them in the excitement of today.

I ate some of this:



I drank some of this:



I went to a cool bar that reminded me of Wellington, where the ceiling looked like this:



But by far the most educational experience was learning about this:



Who knew.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Crazy Takashi

Pretty much the only reason I would ever have considered requesting a rural placement over an urban placement in Japan is the heightened likelihood of personal contact with Japanese people. Those who live in the paddocks of Hokkaido, with mountains for highrises and lakes for onsen are LONELY - they will take anyone into their houses in return for food and company, and I'm assuming that that would include red-haired, hook-nosed tattooed foreigners with a Kiwi twang and a taste for red wine. JETs tell tales of being literally dragged off country roads and into the living rooms of old ladies, where they are plied liberally with food and presents and alcohol and made subject to lengthy reminiscing about the German tourist she saw across the street 20 years ago. I don't want the paddocks - I'm from NZ, I've seen enough livestock to last a lifetime - and you can keep the creeping loneliness that eventually turns all such JETs into raving countrified loons - but I WANT an old lady to pat me on the head and bake me cookies and sew me a kimono from scratch. I miss my Mum. I don't have an oven. I've never worn a kimono.

In Sapporo, one is far more likely to be enticed into an establishment by a host boy with hair to the sky and tight tight pants, where the cookies cost $50 dollars apiece and you're also far more likely to removing kimono than donning them. I'm not saying there's no one here who will pat my head, but it'll cost my whole pay cheque and they won't stop at my head.

Last night I got my wish. I was enticed into an establishment and plied with food. This, my friends, is my longed-for little old Japanese woman:



Ok, he's a man. But he is both little and old and - bonus - utterly mad.

He didn't speak a word of English. When we entered his establishment he was seated at his own bar, watching anime with rice wine in hand. In fact, I didn't even realise he was the proprietor at first - we sat together at the bar in companionable silence watching television for some minutes before he levered himself out of the chair and fetched us the hot damp flannels that are par for the course in Japan. That done, beer was ordered, and it felt like dinner was going well, albeit a little slowly. Manfriend and I inspected the menus, inscribed upon brown paper hanging from above the bar. As usual, the majority of it was Greek (Japanese) to us, but we managed to decipher the words gyoza (a meat dumpling thingy) and karage (fried chicken), both of which boded well for our selection. However, our attempt to order both of the above was met with the ubiquitous symbol for "NO" - both forearms crossed across the torso, accompanied by a rueful nod. Becoming desperate, Manfriend spun one of his many useful phrases out - "What do you recommend?" The little old man in yellow downed his drink and disappeared behind the counter, and this seemed promising. However, there was no smell of food, and no heat coming from the stoves positioned just in front of us. When he reappeared, he carried what appeared to be an entire raw eggplant, cut into slices. He placed it before us and sat there expectantly, looking a little like this:



Imposing. The eggplant, despite our fears, was pickled and moist and delicious. We polished it off, whereby it was followed with a small bowl of noodles and fresh fish. We decided at this point that he was treating us to a tapas style selection of the specialties of his restaurant, and settled into an evening of delicious nibbles.

However, at this point he either ran out of food or imagination, because the next thing placed in front of me was a box of chocolates. And then a bag of biscuits.

I can only assume that he panicked at the rate at which we were devouring his food and ducked out back to fish around in his own pantry for anything he hadn't yet opened. Either that or he sprinted across the road to the supermarket and grabbed the first thing he saw.

I was three beers in by this stage,and was quite amenable to his menu. I decided that this man was a mind-reader (even MORE impressive when you consider that the mind he read was thinking in a different language) - I love chocolate and candy and biscuits, and only don't eat them for dinner regularly because Mummy told me not to. So I tucked in.

I believe that the relish with which I took to his food weakened his defences, because from that stage onwards he became loving and doting and fatherly, in a drunkenly charming way. We began a long conversation, my half in English, his in Japanese, each utterly imcomprehensible to the other. I introduced myself as Scarlett - he introduced himself as Crazy Takashi (Note to self: must get descriptive nickname). It is indicative of the character of this man that the only word he knew in English was "crazy". However, our conversation was short-lived, because as soon as I introduced him to Aravin, he forgot all about me. Aravin became the son he never had. He doted. He worshipped. He poured him a glass of spirit the size of a generous latte, and they liberally traded cigarettes and English words. Takashi described Aravin as strong; Aravin obligingly flexed his bicep. Aravin played Takashi the haka on my iPhone; Crazy Takahashi responded by serenading him with Simon and Garfunkel. I sat in the corner and ate all the biscuits.

After a while, Crazy Takahashi apparently decided that giving Aravin food and alcohol was not enough. This decision led to this:



More alcohol was imbibed. Which led to this:



BFF.

Have I mentioned that we were the only people in the restaurant? Well, we were.

Crazy Takahashi. The first Japanese person to take us into his home (um, restaurant), ply us with food and laden us with gifts. By the time we left, Aravin had accumulated one whole chef's uniform, one apron, six bandanas (I kid you not) and a friend for life. I ad eaten many, many biscuits. I think of him fondly now, still afflicted by the hangover that the combination of rice wine, plum wine, beer, eggplant and biscuits for dinner will give you, crooning away to Simon and Garfunkel... And while it may not be strictly traditional to dine on chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, I still feel like I got the full, extremely foreign, Japanese experience.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Taste of Months to Come

I know, I know, I'm slack. Here I set you up for a bi-weekly date with my exploits in LaLaLand (local name for Japan)(not actually)(because if that were the case it would have to be RaRaRand), and I'm not following through with my promises. I'm like a hair-dye that pledges to last for 30 washes and has eked down the drain in ten. I'm like herbal tea, which never tastes as good as it smells (though, actually, I do). But I promise I am still in Japan, still committing social misdemeanours regularly, the most recent of which indecent faux pas has been Entering A Changing Room Without First Removing My Shoes. I know - I am the devil incarnate. But this is literally the only thing I have done that has caused a Japanese sales-assistant to raise their voice, and this is including an occasion upon which I consistently insisted upon requesting a "more vegetable" thermal vest when I mistook the word "cheap" for "vegetable". The woman didn't even blink on that occasion, just, presumably, patiently continued to search for thermal underwear that more closely resembled a vegetable. It wasn't until I got home and reviewed vocabulary that I realised my error ("This one?" "Ahhh...No. Do you have one that is more vegetable, please?" "....").

Anyway, it is Monday, which means I have just returned home after a day containing a two hour commute, five hours of class, a morning meeting, and a two hour Japanese lesson. all of which adds up to a Scarlett whom only the most resilient people should come into contact with. Add into the equation the fact that there is now a definitive bite of winter in the air and that all my tights have holes in the crotch, and I have been both extremely cold in the fanny and cross ALL DAY.

That said, the weekend just drawn to a close was a lovely one . Friday night was spent at the whim of Nikki, a Scottish lass with an unhealthy addiction to chocolate and an ongoing attachment to dangerous long-haired Japanese men. She took Fay and I to a most excellent underground bar where we ate spaghetti and I spent the remainder of October's paycheck on sake. Nikki has lived here for some years now and has a fear of being identified with the American gaijin steretype (those who dance on tables, ask loudly for foreign beers and request menus in English, harrumphing loudly when these are unavailable because THEY SPEAK JAPANESE HERE) so I was forced to pretend to text whilst taking photos on my iPhone in order to remain in her affections. For your viewing pleasure therefore:



Yeah, yeah this could be anywhere. I'm not *INSERT NAME OF FAMOUS PHOTOGRAPHER HERE* to begin with, and this was taken under my armpit. Just take it from me: this bar was wonderful. But anyway, under the guidance of my favourite Scottish Japanophile, I am quickly discovering the Sapporo that they hide from the tourists, the one with underground bars, and Indie Japanese Bassists and DJ booths and... other cool things which I enjoy being surrounded by. The tourist in me does still enjoy dancing on tables and asking loudly for foreign beers ("TUATARA! Tu-a-ta-ra!") but it would be nice to be able to identify with the true Sapporo local, those with Sapporo flowing through their veins. The last subway was caught home and lovely sake-stained dreams had.

Saturday was spent on the banks of the Toyohira River, a river which flows through much of Sapporo and catches the autumn light admirably.



Attractive, no? One might ask why they paved the river. I would answer to that one, I know not. But the Japanese do have a wonderful love affair with concrete. It brings them much joy. Perhaps this is because of the security of a paved surface. Or a paved river. Imagine a river in which you cannot drown (although you could graze your knees). A wonderful thing. The Japanese are so advanced.

At this party I saw my first snow bug, which is basically what you would get if you crossed a flea with a polar bear (artifical insemination would probably have to be utilized in this case); or a flea in a fancy fur coat, which has the romantic honour of being a fabled precursor to snow. When you see a snow bug, it means that it will snow within the month. Whether, if you keep your eyes tight shut and dismiss all notions of snow bugs as heresy, this then prevents the snow from falling, has yet to be seen (or not seen). At any rate I DID see a snow bug (actually a thousand of them. I counted) and so snow is, undoubtedly, on the way. Autumn is in its element, and even as I curse the cold, I must admit that Sapporo really does, like myself, look lovely in red. Look.



So pretty.

Unfortunately, this picnic on the river (literally, oh the benefits of a paved river!) lulled me into a false sense of security. After a quick afternoon nap, boyfriend and I then progressed to an enkai (drinking party - should have been forewarned by the name) at a private school in which he is teaching. This turned out to be more like an English lesson, fortified with wine and beer and peanut butter sandwiches. You do hear tell about how violently Japanese folk are subject to their alcohol, but until you have witnessed it close up, there is no description that can do it justice. They go genuinely insane. Inhibition is shed like undergarments. Suddenly they are fluent in English and have no qualms about grasping your face in both hands, bringing you within tasting-distance, and informing you that you are the most beautiful person they have ever seen. I was manhandled, frequently. Were it not for the presence of my stern-faced boyfriend, I firmly believe that I would be married to several Japanese people, both men and women, already. If the many requests made of, and invitations given to, me had also come to fruition, I would also have a dramatic new haircut, a Chinese girlfriend, and have visited both Russia and Korea. Honestly, if I ever considered prostitution as a valid career path, Japan would be the place to do it. I am hot property.

I left the party feeling as though I had been violated, but also a little bit like Heidi Klum. I don't think y'all back in NZ realise this, but I am actually the most attractive thing on the planet. Just so's you know (vanity makes me Texan, too).

Sunday morning was my favourite part of the weekend, and this is because of a fabulous discovery: Japanese flea markets. Oh, the clothes. The shoes. The china. The BEAUTY. And the price - everything in Japan is expensive, but everything in Japan is also cutting edge and brand-new, and I can only assume that things devalue steeply after they become outdated, because I threw money in all directions at all kinds of wonderful things (frivolous) and only managed to spend 12 dollars. My photos are refusing to upload from my iPhone, so instead of pictures of shoes and jackets and handbags, you get pictures of what best struck boyfriend about the market, which was this:



Sorry.

I would have spent much longer perusing the stalls, because there was so much to see, but the sky started to look alarmingly like this:



This made it much easier to leave than it might otherwise have been. So, it was time for a toasted sandwich, coffee and home.

This blog is ridiculous. I apologise. Normally, I like to have a theme, and stick to it, resulting in a neat little package of word play and observation. The theme, according to the title, was clearly supposed to be winter, but appears to have morphed into paved rivers and odd dogs. Next time I will try to be more coherent. In the meantime I leave you with this:



Make of it what you will.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Straight to the Source

Internationally, Japan is known for a number of disparate elements to its culture - geisha, manga, long working hours, harajuku girls etc... Internally, though, I have discovered that there is but one glue that holds all these elements together, and it is cheap, gold, and comes in a can. I refer, of course, to beer (and not canned wee, as some may have thought... children), the elixir of life, and the lifeblood of the average Japanese man and gaijin visitor. If we take beer to be the elixir of life, as I have so grandly stated, then the relative Nicholas Flamel (dork) is Asahi, the company responsible for the creation and manufacture of the greater part of the beverages stocked in the local Co-Op.

IN actual fact though, as I learnt this weekend, Asahi is responsible not only for the production of beer... Oh no! But also coffee in a can, various fizzy beverages, certain candies, and, so far as I can tell, a number of different drugs.

See for yourself:



Noodles! Tequila! Some sort of vaguely terrifying slimming concoction (best results when taken in combination with entire contents of cabinet). Gum! Whiskey! Some sort of cracker! And...



Me! Yes, I am a product of Asahi. This kind of perfection is not borne of man. Silly.

So, in case this is not already blindingly obvious (it is), I, this weekend, spent some hours at the source of all Japan's problems and delight's - the Asahi brewery. The trip was the brainchild of Aravin's new employer, a short greying man with English skills equatable to my Japanese (crap). All direction was therefore given with the flat of his hand, and so I was forcibly directed down several corridors, up many flights of stairs, towards windows looking down upon brewing apparatus (silver and... that is all I know), and had my head (no joke) depressed directly into a barrel of barley. Apparently you smell it better from close up. Can confirm this to be the truth. His desire to be a knowledgable and useful guide knew no boundaries, and when the part of the tour that involved free samples approached (he had obviously been on this tour more than once), he took me by the hand, and yanked me bodily through the crowds to the front. Truth be told, this was also my favourite part of the tour. It involved both SITTING down and SNACKS, which readers will know to be two of my favourite things, after sleeping and MORE SNACKS. It also involved filling out a survey, which would not have been entertaining, had it not also involved THIS pencil:



NOT TO BE USED FOR ANYTHING SPECIFIC.

It also involved THIS CHILD:



I stole her.



This will be our Christmas card photo.

(Incidentally, do understand that addition of photos is distracting somewhat from literary content of blog. But, am tired. Boyfriend is cooking chicken. Have no pants on. Charlotte Bronte did not have to work in these kinds of distracting circumstances).

So, enjoyed Beer Factory. Cannot truthfully say that tour was particularly enlightening, what with it being in a different language, and being forced to take it at a run. But genuinely enjoyed free samples, small sausage-like things which turned out to be cheese, and opportunity to indulge in a little light-hearted kidnapping. In fact, enjoyed self so much that now work there. Sorry JET.



ADDENDUM: How can one not enjoy living in a country where the Red Bull is to be found in the MEDICINAL SECTION??

Thursday, October 7, 2010

In Which I Contemplate Stealing Moisturizer, Bikes and an Entire Apartment Building

In New Zealand, if you left your iPod on the bus, you could kiss it, and your Taylor Swift back-catalogue goodbye. The chances of someone both god-fearing and proactive enough to hand it in have to be in the realms of nil - even if someone worthy and gold-souled were to come across it, they would likely halfheartedly glance in a two-metre radius, perhaps waving it in the air whilst coughing in an attention-seeking manner, before putting it back where they found it and replacing their own head phones. Far more likely than this is that it would be on TradeMe within the hour.

Not so here. I am told that Japanese people put so much faith in the worthy nature of their compatriots that they will leave house and car doors unlocked, preferring to relieve themselves of the hassle of the key-hunt at the end of the day (incidentally, why ARE keys so small? It is not convenient, it is DIFFICULT, particularly if you are the proud owner of what I like to call a Life Bag, wherein you secret your ENTIRE LIFE and finding a flat silver thing amongst the lipsticks, hairbrushes, assorted make-up products, numerous drink bottles, wallet, passport, phrase book, any number of novels, diary, bananas, bento, sunglasses, rainy-day hat, surprise-cold-day scarf, bicycle lock, bills (many) etc is Mission, if not Impossible, then certainly Annoying and Time-Consuming). The building in which I live, home to some 50 different apartments, has an unsecured entry, so presumably, should I feel so inclined, I have fifty Japanese fridges and fifty Japanese closets through which to rummage at will. I have not yet put this theory into practice, fearful as I am of a stint in Japanese prison. And knowing my luck, I would open the door of a Yakuza den and find myself in the midst of whatever the most feared gang in Japan do in their spare time (Go Fish and hot chocolate, I suspect, Japan being what it is).

Among the hundreds of bikes left at the train stations on any given day, I have personally observed at least one in six to be totally unsecured, ready for the taking. And though there are men in uniforms dotted throughout the racks, looking po-faced in olive green, I suspect that their function is more to ensure that each bike is positioned perfectly parallel to the next in an aesthetically pleasing manner, rather than to engage in hot pursuit of potential bike thieves. The reason I know this is that they patrol on foot, in tight pants. They would have no chance at running down a dedicated hot-wirer (probably not necessary to steal a bike. Hot pedaller? Anyway). Although I believe there are occasional incidents of bike theft, the perpetrators ('perps', if you watch CSI or are Rupert) are invariably drunk business men, who have accidentally imbibed past the last train, and through a whiskey-brain-haze deduce that a bike ride, zig-zagging and dazed as it might be, will likely be both faster than walking and cheaper than a taxi. And when the destination has been reached (or they pass out and fall head-first over the handle-bars), the bike will be left where it falls, as the intention in taking said vehicle will never be theft, but merely convenience. I have heard tell that this is a legitimate culture in Japan, whereby hundreds of bikes, devoid of any owner save Sapporo city itself, remain at busy train stations, week after week, until some boozed-up business man, takes one to its next destination and next would-be thief. Like chain-mail, but useful. I myself am part of a system much like this one, but it involves umbrellas rather than bikes, and nobody but me knows that they are partaking.

Shop keepers, usually those members of society most vigilant and suspicious of theft, are also of the Japanese civilian mindset, which holds firmly that what's yours is yours, and what's mine is mine. Thus, the chemists here have stands outside the doors of the shop, totally unsupervised, groaning with thousands of yen worth of product. I today observed one woman take a moisturizer in each hand, cross the road to discuss her oily T-zone (conjecture) with her friend, and then return, place one product back on the stand, and proceed inside to pay. It simply boggles the mind that it would not even occur to her to continue casually down the road, stolen skin product clutched in sweaty fist, and save that couple of thousand yen for a celebratory successful-shoplifting Suntory.

This being the case, I daily absentmindedly leave my treasured iPhone on my desk at school, safe in the knowledge that no light-fingered begrudging English student will filch it and publish the naked pictures of me contained therein (lie) on the Internet. If I'm late for the train, I leave my Mama Cherie unsecured (though I would in fact be flattered if someone saw the rusty old woman as worthy of theft). On one memorable occasion I realised at the bottom of the lift that I had forgotten to bring down the truly disgusting bags of trash that had been rotting on my balcony for some weeks, and, jettisoning all cargo in favour of speed, left my entire Life Bag in the lobby as I boarded the lift once more. Of course, it remained when I returned, blue and denimy and unharmed, if slightly grumpy at being so abandoned in favour of five bags of banana skins (the ONLY cheap fruit).

In NZ, my absent-minded (but very attractive) sister once left her expensive cell phone in the back seat of a cab, and gave it up for lost. To her enduring surprise, the cab she took at the end of the night, of the hundreds in Wellington, was the same one in which she had arrived, with said cell phone neatly nestled in the back. In NZ, this is beautiful and fateful coincidence. In Japan, the driver would have tracked her down, apologised for the inconvenience, handed her the cell phone, given her a packet of tissues and offered her tea.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Just When You Think You Know It All

My third year students are a somber and studious lot. Class sizes are small (12 students max)and the level of English that they are learning is harduous (typo, but somehow suitably illustrative). University entrance exams in Japan are a make-it-or-break-it (also an excellent TV programme if you are gymnastically inclined) situation - if they fail the exam, there is no second chance. As such, the build-up to these exams starts extremely early and is taken very seriously. In fact, it is common - indeed, expected - for third year athletes to `retire' from their sport at this time of year, giving up club activities in deference to the need to study. Ask a third year what he has been doing in the weekend, and the answer will invariably be 'studying`. And, I suspect, this is not studying in the same class as my NCEA preparation (lying on the grass in the sun with my eyes closed, eating assorted snacks, biology text book open on my stomach, relying on information-osmosis). This is genuine bread-and-water-don't-come-out-of-your-room-until-you-can-recite-the-Oxford-English-Dictionary-backwards type study. So: they are academic, dedicated and scared shitless.

Therefore, when I was told an hour ago that the third years were congregating in the gym and that I was welcome to observe if so inclined, I envisaged many possible scenarios: a speech competition, a lecture, a communal study session, a sacrifice to the Japanese God of Graduation (lesser-known).

This is what I did not expect: three hundred students yelling and screaming during relay races, in which students race to a washing line suspended across the gym, from which dangles bread buns at head height. I did not expect them to then have to grasp said buns between their teeth and race to the finish line, body slamming each other as they did so. I did not expect to observe my formerly staid JTE (Japanese teacher of English), with sports jersey covering his pristine shirt and tie, sweating his way around an obstacle course hand and hand with a student.

Sometimes, things are so comfortable here that I forget I am in Japan.

But then something like this happens and I remember why my first month here felt like I was unwittingly partaking in a Japanese game show. The TruEnglishMan Show.

Apparently, this period in the week is the 'BS' period, and is usually occupied by - surprise - studying, but is occasionally used as an excuse to burn off some of the steam that these retired athletes are daily accumulating.

Supposedly, 'BS' stands for 'Blue Sky', but I can think of something much more suitable.

(PS: They continue these activies, increasing in bizarreness as the afternoon progresses, as I type, but I was too terrified that I would be forced into some sort of risible athletic-type situation to remain)(Am simply too large to blend)(Also, am wearing bright yellow)(Am hiding in the computer room)(Join me in a prayer that they not find me).