Welcome to a new series in Stupid Tales. Here we’ll explore brutish human choices and all their stupid glory. The first installment is about some real LATE NIGHT nonsense that happened while drunk (big surprise) back in Japan, land of the rising sun, and falling gaijin.
My eyes opened and I felt very awake and realized I was still drunk and turned over into the sheets and felt a dampness on my face. I sat up and saw the pillow was wet and pinkish red, like I’d spilled a glass of Kool-Aid in my sleep. I probably said something like holy shit a few times before searching my scalp to find a 2 inch wound at the top of my skull. It was still wet from blood and some of the hair had crusted together in thick clumps and felt heavy. I was fully dressed and wearing my shoes under the covers, I laughed but it wasn’t funny.
In the shower the back of my head was sore and I imagined the thin flesh under my hair to be purple, grey and black. Flaps of meat moved as I moved. I hung my head under the water and watched it become pink and red as it fell around my face, then orbited the drain and was gone. Sucked down with the memories. Irretrievable. Now it was time to go back. To inspect the emptiness. Trace my steps to the blurry horizon where things diminish quickly to grey mush.
1. Took the train to Shibuya sipping on a water-bottle filled with vodka.
2. Met Allan Ito and friends at a bar called ECHO.
3. Drank shots of whiskey and a some bottles of beer.
4. Viewed nude photograph of unknown girl on the phone of a stranger. “Yeah, she sent that to me. No idea why,” he/she said.
5. Smoked several cigarettes.
6. Walked to karaoke with group of kids who all seemed to work for American Apparel but were also DJs?
7. Made jokes about DJs.
8. Sang Blue Suede Shoes by Elvis Presley.
9. Drank several mugs of cheap beer.
10. Sang China Girl by David Bowie. Felt like people were ‘blown away.’ Delusional?
11. Chugged beer in a race against Japanese guy to impress girls.
12. Won the race. Did not impress girls.
13. Went to a bar called Beat Cafe on the third floor.
19. Woke up in bed fully dressed with a blood-soaked pillow.
I called my friend Allan Ito on the computer. His nose was swollen under a ragged, white bandage and the skin around his right eye looked fluffy and purple. I knew it must have been my fault. He was holding onto a bottle of Pocari Sweat and smoking a cigarette.
“You look great,” I said.
“I am a one-eyed panda,” he said.
“You need to even it out. What happened to us last night?”
“You were drunk. I tried to help you down the stairs but you fell and pulled me with you.”
“You are a loyal friend.”
“We looked so stupid. Everybody saw it.”
“What a goddamn friend.”
“My nose is broken.”
“You look very cool as a panda.”
“The ambulance came. You wouldn’t go with them.”
“You were yelling fuck you and that you were with The X-men.”
“Fuck. That’s all true, but jeez Louise.”
“I am glad you are alive. I tried to see you home but then you said you’d bit my throat out.”
“Your nose broke my fall. You saved me. I love you.”
“Glad I could help. Go to a doctor.”
I walked to Mcdonald’s along the busy road Omekaido and ordered a Big Mac and two large fries with a coke. The person next to me had ordered a Big Mac meal and a pack of chicken nuggets. The Big Mac was my Tokyo comfort food for reasons relating to homesickness, though I never really ate Mcdonald’s in the states. Still don’t. The Japanese just know how to do it. The employees must painstakingly assemble each burger so that it perfectly matches the product in the advertisement. Consistency is the key to deliciousness. Deliver what you promise me.
I ate. Pushing the food into my mouth, and chewing and swallowing would somehow hold off the oncoming heebie jeebies, at least for an hour or so. Anxiety must rise from the gut. Shit food created a wall. The soft bun pressed against my lips. The sesame seeds added texture. Beef, cheese and pickles came apart through my teeth and became one soft mass as I chewed, and then flashes of the nightmare images: the ambulance, blood on the ground, arguing with the paramedics that I didn’t need medical assistance because I’m Wolverine. My healing factor, you understand? People in the streets laughing or disgusted by the drunk foreigner covered in his own juice. A stumbling lunatic explaining to everyone he’s got a healing factor. Half of this could have been imagined. No way of knowing for sure.
“Honto ni. Daijoubu desu. Daijoubu desu. Tsuyoi desu,” I would have babbled incoherently. “Really! I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m strong.”
I wandered home in the the cool November air with a belly full of burger, pushing a damp, red handkerchief (forever stained and folded in my back pocket as I type this) to my skull. I was eaten up by menacing premonitions of possible and immediate futures including (but not limited to): coma, brain swelling, hospitalization, humiliation, incarceration, deportation and death. My world became a moist, inch and a half gash and the future oozed in slow-mo.
Back home I touched the cut while chastising myself for touching it. I called a girl named Junko who ran with the American Apparel/DJ gang. She looked sleepy and clean and pretty. She told me more about insulting the ambulance driver who tried to help me into the truck. She said I fell asleep in my own blood and how it mixed with Allan Ito’s blood and now there was only 1 blood and that it was intimate.
“You rubbed my ass while telling me how sorry you were,” Junko said.
“I am really sorry.”
“You said that last night.”
I apologized three more times.
“It’s OK,” she said. “It was funny.”
“Your ass might have saved my life,” I said. “Please say thank you to your ass.”
She leaned back and whispered something behind her.
“My ass says Grrrrrrrrr but you’re welcome.”
I bashed myself up more than a few times in those days. Most of the really fucked ones happened (from my position) in a kind of reverse order, because of the way it was experienced, which was completely in its retelling. Mind wiped (almost) clean, so that’s funny. But not so funny, but still kind of funny. I used to pretend I was actively seeking a warm void, or non-thinking, like something gained from transcendental meditation. A perfect amoral state. Of course I learned my lesson from hearing the shithead adventures told back to me. Blackout parables starring yours truly. Glad I found a way out, and I now sit comfortably in my right mind (more or less) and finger the jagged 4 year old scar on the back of my head. I count my lucky fucking stars I didn’t bleed out or die of a concussion that night after tumbling down the gun-metal staircase toward the big black whale in the dark.
I ended up going to a nearby clinic to have my head examined later that day. It was not far from my apartment, just past the beef bowl shop called Matsuya with it’s ticket machine and piles of sweet simmered beef and onions on hot rice. Miss that place everyday. Still hazy, I sat on the examination table while the doctor held my hair apart and examined the hole in my head. He was a friendly old guy who didn’t speak much English.
“Yeah. Off my bike.”
“Yeah. A little.”
He smiled and said “Hmmmm”
“Do I need stitches?” I asked.
“I don’t think so. You healed fast,” he said and then paused before saying “very fast.”
“I knew it,” I said.
He looked at me, puzzled.