March 31, 2014

Sexying with a Yakuza Cougar in Underground Tokyo

At my last job, there was hardly a day that I did not log onto a Bloomberg Terminal for something or the other, whether it was looking at sovereign bond curves, CDS spreads or commodity prices. One feature that I unexpectedly came to enjoy was Quote of the Day, which is exactly that – a different quote would grace my login screen each day. One of my favorites was this one:

“I was told that whistling wasn’t ladylike, but I knew even then that women were simply not supposed to be that happy.” – anonymous

I was reminded of this at the Couchsurfing monthly meet up in Tokyo. For those that don’t know what Couchsurfing is, this explains it. We were in a small and dimly lit underground bar in Shibuya with splendidly rich décor that wouldn’t have been out of place in Versailles. Only the red walls, smaller space and dim lighting meant it more resembled a high end Parisian brothel where MPs and tycoons might come to understandings between receiving BJs from Polish hookers. There were about 25 people there (in the Tokyo bar, not the French whorehouse), an almost even mix of Japanese, expats, and travelers like us. Colleen and I found ourselves meeting many Japanese and noticed that many women covered their mouth when they laughed. We politely asked someone why that was and our hunch was confirmed – women showing their teeth may be considered vulgar. We saw lots of Japanese womens’ teeth during our three weeks in Japan so clearly not everyone abides by this rule. I met the most interesting non-abider that very night.

Shibuya Bar

Some of the friends we met at the Couchsurfing meet up in Tokyo

Colleen and I had been chatting in a small circle with a male German backpacker and two Tokyo natives, a male fashion designer and a female HR professional. After spending over an hour in this group, I left to get a drink. As the barkeep filled my glass with Sapporo, I took stock of the rest of the party. The place was more crowded and there were many new faces and voices. Sapporo in hand, I thrust myself into the ocean of strangers, fishing for fresh conversation. Angling past the first group to get to the back of the room, I came upon two Japanese women, both of whom looked about 40 (actually 35, but I’ve started adding 5 years to how old I think Asians are because they typically look about that much younger than they actually are). The more attractive of the two flashed me a big inviting smile and offered me her hand. From the beginning it was clear that this was not your traditional shy Japanese woman. She confidently maneuvered into within an inch of me and gave me a firm handshake. As we exchanged names (I forgot hers in the first 5 seconds – there were too many new names that night), my face brushed the luxuriously soft fur lining the collar of her large coat. She was petite but her fashionably oversized coat meant she took up as much room as I did. Like many Japanese, she clearly cared for fashion. From her knee-high boots to her aquamarine silk scarf that tastefully offered a little color to a mostly black ensemble, she looked like she could have stepped out of a magazine. After introductions, with a brazenly toothy smile and large excited eyes gazing into mine, she asked me “Are you here for sexying?”

I noticed she had good teeth, a rarity in Japan, as most Japanese appear to care almost as little for their teeth as the English. WAIT! WHAT? Are you here for sexying!?!? A bit shocked, all I could do was utter “Excuse me?” and lean closer, figuring the loud music might have made me mishear her as we were standing quite close to the speakers. Louder now, and slower, she mouthed her question again, “Are…You…Here…For…Sexying?”

Both the directness of the question and how quickly she brought it up astonished me. I studied her face. Unblinking bright eyes underlined by a confident, even cocky smile looked back at me expectantly. She had asked a question and she wanted an answer. I was completely caught off guard. I glanced towards Colleen, who was now alone with the German, apparently a close-talker (Yes, that’s a Seinfeld reference). My mind raced – What kind of person is this and how should I respond to her? She was beyond self-assured, a woman accustomed to having her way. Perhaps a woman unafraid to take what she wants.

Yakuza! – The name struck me like a thunderbolt. I had seen Lucy Liu in Kill Bill Volume 1. Lady Yakuza bosses were out there and based on the movie’s body count of 95 dead, were not to be trifled with. It occurred to me that her oversized coat was of sufficient length to conceal a Hattori Hanzo katana. I recognized I might be in terrible danger and needed to consider my next move carefully. Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal had taught me that tattoos are a good Yakusa giveaway so I searched her little exposed skin for signs of Tattoos. I found none but all she was bearing was her neck and hands. It was too dark and I was too close to her to observe her legs between where her skirt ended and her boots began.

But I was running out of time. Her evergreen smile was beginning to wilt. I couldn’t keep her waiting forever and was all out of ideas so I decided to be direct “I’m here with my wife.”

This seemed to surprise her. “You have a wife?”

I nodded. “Where is your wife? Show her to me.” she demanded. Again, I was a little taken aback by the authority with which she asked this of me. Meekly, I pointed to Colleen and feebly mumbled “See? Her over there.”

She arched her neck to get a better look, a concentrated frown on her face. It occurred to me that maybe I had just put Colleen in danger. But then she glanced back at me and then again at Colleen, and finally seemed satisfied. “So you are here with your wife?”

A smile was returning to her face and I breathed easier “Yes”

“You and your wife are both here for sexying?” And once again I was confused. Was she asking if we had come to Tokyo in search of the spark to reignite our marriage? Or did she think we were swingers? Either way, this new question was even more bizzare, so I decided to be even more direct in my response this time.

Prepared to flee in an instant should a samurai sword appear from under her coat, I cautiously asked “What do you mean by sexying?”

“Sexying! You know? Seeing famous places in Tokyo?”

“You mean sight-seeing?”

“Yes, sexying!”

“Oh………I see…………….And what do you do for your job?”

“I’m accountant! Why are you here?”

The pretty lady finally got the answer she was looking for. “Sexying. We’re both here for sexying” I said with a big, stupid and brazenly toothy grin.