Thursday, October 1, 2009

Love in Scrabbleland

As I promised you a few weeks ago, I’m back with news from my clandestine Tokyo trip. The game details are not ready yet (I’m still trying to organize the photos), but I simply had to tell you about my bus adventures. We (read: my wife) decided that we didn’t have enough money and anyway a Scrabble pleasure trip was not that important to allow me the use of shinkansen, so we got tickets to the night bus. The trip to Tokyo was relatively uneventful, if you don’t take into account the fact that it took me about two hours to find the bus station. That says a lot, I think, about my inclination to wander (in Japan or anywhere else).
In a bout of generosity, my wife had bought me for the onward trip the equivalent of a business class ticket, so I could stretch my legs, wrap myself in a blanket and theoretically fall into a comfortable sleep. Theoretically, because apparently the driver used to work on a kindergarten bus, so every hour he would stop and in a booming voice urge us to use the toilet. The first time my sweet dreams were thus interrupted I thought there had been an accident and we were being evacuated; after the second time I started praying that the highway to Tokyo would run out of toilets.
On the way to Osaka I was back to economy and contemplating yet another night of involuntary knee hugging when an elderly gentleman (the future star of the “Prison Break” sequel, “Crypt Break”) suddenly yelled: “That’s my seat!” I checked my ticket, made sure he didn’t have a glass eye, and the driver came to my rescue indicating the seat next to mine. Crypt Break continued the conversation with his imaginary friend: “That’s better! This is the seat I wanted. Yoroshiku onegai shimasu.”
Ouch! Now he was talking to me. What do you reply to somebody who addresses you with the polite expression soliciting someone’s favour or good will when you are ready to fall asleep and pray the journey would end sooner? I had no time to reply as he was already enthusiastically shaking my hand. And that marked, like in the movies, the beginning of a beautiful friendship. A night of love and romance, when Crypt Break’s hand “accidentally” found its way on my knee three times. The first two times I politely removed it, but the third I shook it away in a manner that could not be mistaken for gentleness. I was no longer in “Crypt Break”, but in “Attack of the Zombies”! However, I am proud to report that both I and Casablanca revisited (the senior version) left the bus unscathed. Yet a question is now haunting me: does the abundance of hair on my chest make up for the fact that I was holding a pink Snoopy pillow?

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