Saturday, August 20, 2005

Roman Holiday

I may finally be over the jet-lag: Last night I went out with co-workers for an Okinawan meal and drinks after work at a restaurant in Ginza, to celebrate the arrival of one person and the departure of another. I won't even try to pronounce what we had, as the Okinawan dialect derives from a different source than Japanese, and I simply don't know the words. It was good, but I returned fairly early, and was home by 10:30.
The night before, I had started to watch Dr. T & The Women, a movie directed by Robert Altman, with a cast of some of the nicest-looking women actresses ever, and Richard Gere. I had started it the night before, and fell asleep right at the point when he was sleeping with a female golf pro, played by Helen Hunt, because, one was left to assume, that his crazy wife, played by Farrah Fawcett, was well...crazy! She stripped naked (unfortunately obscured by the Japanese censor) and frolicked in the mall fountain! And he therefore needed a woman! Exclamation points, unfortunately, don't add up to a well conceived storyline, or premise, or even a point to this dog of a movie. A bit shocking considering the director and fine actors involved. I don't reccomend it at all. Unfortunately, I didn't know that, or wasn't quite sure, because the sleeping pill I had taken had kicked in fairly quickly. So, last night I finished it. I then took only one half of a sleeping pill, and was able to get a reasonable night's sleep.
I have been meaning to call my friend, J, who I haven't seen for a long time, or at least a couple of months. I guess that isn't so long, but we used to be housemates, so it seems like too long. She is now living and working in Tokyo, in fact quite close to my office, maybe a 10 or 15-minute walk. She suggested we have dinner, which we did at Roy's of Aoyama Cafe (not in Aoyama, in Atago). I really like talking with her: She is funny, smart, and because we really know each other well, we can talk about almost anything. Which we did...
She mentioned that in July (just last month!) she had had a 'Roman Holiday' in Singapore. I looked up 'Roman Holiday' on dictionary.com, and here is the definition:

Roman holiday
n.
  1. Enjoyment or satisfaction derived from observing the suffering of others.
  2. A violent public spectacle or disturbance in which shame, degradation, or physical harm is intentionally inflicted on one person or group by another.
I don't think that is what she meant. I think her reference was to the sheltered princess portrayed by Audrey Hepburn, and the dashing newspaper reporter played by Gregory Peck. And I am to understand that this Gregory Peck lookalike, who happens to be rather short, round, and Chinese, and wears round glasses, was a good playmate for princess J's three-day stay in Singha Pura, city of lions. It was, she said, the best holiday ever.
Her husband had been invited, and things might have turned out differently had he accepted, but he said Singapore was boring, and why didn't she go by herself? Why do that when her perfect man, short, dark, and Asian, was waiting to ride her around on his Vespa, or at least in his Toyota?
I think we know each other a little too well: I am not shocked, don't feel like giving her any marital advice (taking holidays with men who are not one's husband might lead to trouble), and was more interested in whether they did the dirty. I am the amoral friend, I guess: I hoped she had. If her stupid husband can't find his way, why should that prevent her taking a ride now and then? (no answer needed, thanks ;-) I didn't ask that question, though. Though with most people it would be a given that her and Mr. Peck had done it, I know her to well to leap to any conclusions...
Last night, in the Okinawan restaurant, this subject also came up: One of my female co-workers, an interpreter who just got married at the beginning of the year, sort of glared at the only other male (besides me) in the department, and said 'Nani-san, have you ever cheated on your wife?"
Nani-san (not his real name, of course), totally non-plussed, sputtered and said 'why do you want to know'. Definitely not a definitive answer, and my boss said 'it is a binary question, yes or no,' which is true, but didn't give him much of an out to a question that he obviously couldn't answer honestly. He recovered pretty well, with 'I wish that such an opportunity had presented itself,' which, you will notice, still did not answer the question, though the implication is that the opportunity had not, and therefore he had not. It did get him off the hook, though, and I was reasonably certain that heads would then turn my way, and mentally prepared myself for the question: "No, absolutely never." Ms. S, who is leaving soon for England, and is, I believe, divorced, and who has, in past conversations, been quite interested in male opinions on fidelity, turned to look very closely at my eyes to see if I was lying. The mental preparation helped me hold her gaze.
My boss, then told a story about a certain Accenture partner she had seen in Roy's with a young woman, and who the next day told her some baloney story about the girl being an old classmate from college, while she was sure that there was more to it. I didn't remember that until I was sitting at a table in Roy's with Princess J, whom I am really good friends with, and with whom, no, I have never slept, and whimsically wondered whether my boss would show up. Luckily, my spate of ironic karma has ended.
Infidelity is a funny thing: Perhaps it is the sort of Roman Holiday described in the dictionary, not for those doing it, but for those who get to watch in a kind of fascinated pleasure at the squirming of others, doing their mating rituals in a public colloseum for all to observe with a touch of envy, irony, and disgust. Bon voyage!

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