Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Smoking and Drinking and Wearing One-Shoulder Dresses

Hurrah! As of today, I am officially on holiday. None of this beating-about-in-the-bush business (which is almost a pity, since it sounds kind of fun, if somewhat pointless and also dirty), with sitting at a desk and staring at computer screen and bemoaning the fact that work-internet blocks TradeMe so I can't even look at ridiculous things I would buy if I had the money, like horses and cafes and ghosts in jars. I am in bed. I intend to stay here, mayhap until 2011. Probably may not hap, but one can dream.

Last night I celebrated in proper style. I bought a new dress. A new headband. A new necklace. All from Japan, but all from stores blatantly flaunting the fact that they are not Japanese. The headband and necklace were purchased from Claire's and the dress from Zara, a chain which I personally think rivals Top Shop in excellent dress selection. Their designers are also clearly as fully in the throws of leopard-print addiction as I, and so I wandered around in a happy wild-cat daze, looking at shoes and boots and shoots and skirts and ponchos and scarves and dresses and skirts, all goldy and spotty and begging to be worn. However, leopard-print as a addiction presents a problem, being so striking and statementy. It was OK when my addiction was the colour black, a stalwart fashion choice that has maintained me for some years, but this current obsession is reminiscent of my 3rd/4th form obsession with stars and stripes, which often led to outfits which consisted of: a bandanna fashioned from an American flag, small blue earrings shaped like stars, a sleeveless tank top emblazoned with an impressionistic flag, a denim skirt covered in white stars and striped red and white socks. Looking back I am ashamed and disgusted and slightly judgmental of the deficit in parental attentions which must have occurred to allow me to leave the house with such a tiresome political agenda literally covering me from head to toe. (Aside: is this not perhaps the longest sentence in the entire world?).

And then I look down and discover myself to be wearing boots with leopard print cuffs, a big leopard print jersey, a (admittedly beautiful, and expensive) leopard fur coat and leopard fur earmuffs. I suppose I have to then shift the blame from my parents to myself, because they can hardly be expected to exercise sartorial authority over 23-year-old offspring located halfway across the world. But someone really should try. THINK OF THE LEOPARDS.

I've totally forgotten what this paragraph began with.

Ah! Zara. I ended up purchasing a most excellent boho-print one shouldered dress, which I paired with a crystal studded headband to great effect. I have my friend Di to thank for my new penchant for dressing to mismatch - there's something very freeing about no longer having to match your belt to your boots. When you have hair as red as I do, nothing really matches anything - my mustard coloured scarf provides a particularly painfully wonderful clash.

Man I am good at digressing. And talking about my hair. Get on with it.

So attired, I proceeded to TK6 to meet with a JET friend and her JTE and tequila shots. Happy hour proved happy indeed. And sweetly flavoured with international irony. At one point I found myself seated at the bar, with three Moscow Mules arrayed before me, engaged in deep conversation with a Russian woman named Olga. She had been living in Tokyo for 16 years, but was currently in Sapporo doing job training. She missed Russia a lot, but tried to go back every year to - yes - Moscow. She complimented my hair. I complimented her on her big, green Russian eyes. A love affair was born. Upon discovering that I planned to be in Tokyo for New Years, she immediately supplied me with business card and phone number, offering to squire me and my friends around town in the Big Smoke. I think it extremely likely that I will take her up on the offer. How often do you actually meet a Russian woman named Olga (if you lived in Russia, probably all the time, it's probably about as exciting as meeting an American named Sarah or a Brit named Clare, but this was my FIRST RUSSIAN that wasn't a COCKTAIL)? I could have chatted with ol' Olga for quite some time, but the group was stirring... t'was time to relocate.

Relocation was found just around the corner in a tiny, smoky, dark bar which specialised in sheesha (for the uninitiated, a flavoured tobacco smoked through a large ornate pipe). We were directed upstairs into what can only be described as an attic - the ceilings were low enough to bump your back on when you were bent double, and there was junk lining the walls (my first attempt to sit down resulted in a painful union between my ass and a foosball table). It is entirely possible that the bar staff were just trying to hide our rowdy, red-cheeked selves, in an effort to attract more desirable custom. But there was a table, and beer, and a pipe, and once the hookah was flowing, the Japanese bartender fished out a projector, which projected (duh) on to the dusty wall scenes of a night sky, across which a meteorite would occasionally flash. It was surreal. Our small group of five quickly doubled when another JET arrived, bringing with him 5 male Japanese co-workers, all fresh from their end-of-year Xmas party. They were courteous and interested - not being English teachers, conversation with me did not flow as easily as it might, but they asked about my country, complimented my dress (yussss) and, with the aid of electronic dictionaries, described me as 'elegant' , which made me glad that I'd kept my tequila shooting to a bare minimum. It was a soothing, smoky atmosphere - the tobacco (a house speciality) was a mix of liquorice and peach and some other flavours I failed to identify. I attempted some Gandalf-style smoke rings which got me so dizzy that I sat on the foosball table again (elegant).

Outside, the snow was falling heavily, as it continues to do even now. It's gonna be a White Christmas, methinks.

At about midnight, the group began to disperse. Some proceeded on to Booty, but others, like me, soothed by smoke and snow and Sapporo, wended their way home through the falling white, just in time to catch the last subway. Getting home at 1 am, I immediately proceeded to cook a full feed of nachos, complete with spicy chicken and home-made guacamole, while "don't drink and fry, don't drink and fry' echoed around my head. Snug in bed with Mexican food and American television, I felt that my celebration of the end of the working year was complete, though sadly devoid of dancing. I'm glad that I cut it short when I did, however, though no doubt Booty would have supplied some hilarious anecdotes (particularly since it has a strippers pole in the middle of the dance floor). My wallet is heavier than it might otherwise have been, and I am ready for Christmas, for the arrival of friends, and for travel.

Come on Liz, Abby, Aravin. The harajuku girls - and Olga - are waiting for us.

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