Saturday, May 26, 2012

I am NOT Planning on Kidnapping Anyone... Really!

I am sorry.  
I should watch what I say.  I should pay attention to how loudly I say it.  I should remember that the people around me might not understand what I'm getting at, since they are not privy to the imaginary world I often live in from whence the things I say come from.  I need to make allowances for this.  
The people that know me understand that my mind is something like a junk jar people keep in their kitchens.  Whenever some stray bolt, or odd "do-hickey" is found that they don't know what to do with but don't want to throw away, they'll drop it in one of those jars.  That's how my brain works.  All the things I hear, see, read and experience are tossed inside my brain where they rattle around, bang up against each other and connect in weird ways that I find appealing.  Give it a good shake, and there is no telling what might pop out of my mouth.  
I am formally admitting, here and now, that there are times, perhaps even most of the time, I should keep a lid on that jar.  Particularly last night.  
In my defense, I was in a particularly odd mood, even for me.  This week at work has been very stressful, with all manner of problems being thrown at me causing me to become short-tempered, lose sleep, and generally come to believe that the rest of humanity has been set upon this planet specifically to plague me.  Friday night, the first night this week I was able to leave the office on time, I had a feeling that a person wrongly accused of a crime might recognize when they are finally exonerated and released.  I got in my car, cranked up my iPod playing through my stereo, and played songs that alternatively sang of liberation or anarchistic destruction.  I was out of "their" world and back into mine.  
This mood was the main ingredient to what happened.  The broth into which the other ingredients were thrown.  After getting a quick bite to eat at home, I drove to a nearby Starbucks in Pasadena to meet other members of my Japanese Culture and Language Exchange.  These were "my" people, if you will.  This was something I wanted to do.  
When I arrived I found Ted and Mitsumi already there.  (I am changing their names, like in the old Dragnet TV show, to protect their innocence).  I joined them and we started to talk.  Mitsumi told us that she was going to be leaving to pick up a new friend of hers.  Another Japanese woman that had come to America to replace a colleague that had gone to work in another state.  She described this person as the "replacement" for her colleague, using the Japanese word, "atogama."  
I fell in love with the word.  Say it out loud with me.  "Ah-to-ga-ma."  It rattled around in my junk-jar brain, bumped into all the Japanese giant monster movies I saw as a kid, and came out as the name of some fearsome robot from outer space, seventy feet tall, smashing its way through Tokyo.  
皆!逃げて!アトガマが来たよ! "Everyone!  Run away!  Atogama is Here!"  I began writing dialogue for the fearful citizens, the erstwhile reporters and the stern scientists come to stop the robot from space.  I went on like that until I learned another new word: "kuchidake."  "Kuchidake" is literally "mouth only" and refers to someone who is all talk and no action.  But in my brain, it rubbed up against Atogama and became a giant mouth, forty feet wide, that devoured planets one bite at a time.  I started writing the sequel to my Japanese monster flick, where Atogama, now the "good guy," defends the Earth against the giant, disembodied mouth-monster, Kuchidake.  Atogama versus Kuchidake.  
It was about this time that Mitsumi left the Starbucks we were at.  She said it was to get her new acquaintance, though I kinda had my doubts.  
But she did return, bringing her colleague's "atogama," Shizuka (another alias) with her.  Other members of our group had joined us by this point.  A couple of tables cleared up inside and we were able to put them together and move back inside out of the cold.  
Another thing you should be aware of is this: I talk loudly.  My voice carries.  I don't usually notice it so I do very little to restrain it.  Maybe it comes from the years I trained and sought a career as an actor, but when I speak I usually project my voice to the far corners of whatever room I happen to be in.  It may surprise some that know me that I think of myself as being something of an introvert.  I don't often talk to strangers or join in conversations spontaneously.  But when I'm with people I know, and I want to talk, I make sure that I'm heard.  
Once inside, the conversation carried on.  Per our standard practice we spoke about various things, occasionally delving into our dictionaries to find the word we wanted to use, or to answer a question from someone learning our native language, and jotting down in our notebooks our answers.  
Another word came to me during this time: 縛り付ける。"Shibaritsukeru."  It's pronounced, "shi-bah-ri-tsu-ke-ru."  It means to tie someone up.  I took a liking to this word right away, too.  
With shibaritsukeru rattling in my head, searching for something to connect to, Mitsumi said, "there are other Japanese people."  
I looked up at her.  "You mean like, in Japan?"  
She gave me an expression that said, "please..." in any language.  "No.  I mean here.  This Starbucks.  Over there."  
I turned to my left and leaned back to look past Ted talking with Shizuka.  I could see an Asian couple, presumably Japanese, sitting at a table close to the bar.  
My new word, shibaritsukeru, clanked into the thought of these two Japanese people I didn't know.  I turned back toward Mitsumi and, "縛り付けた方が良い?” came out of my mouth.  
"Ehhh...?"  Mitsumi's eyes were as wide as saucers at me asking her if she thought we should tie them up.   "Why?" she asked.  
"Well...  You'll be going back to Japan soon, right?"  Her contract is expiring and she'll be returning home.  "We'll need a replacement for you," I got to use my other new word, "atogama" in its intended usage.  "We can tie them up, put them in a safe place, and bring them out to talk with them after you leave."  
Mitsumi snickered.  No, she said.  That wouldn't be a good idea.  
I shrugged.  I could feel shibaritsukeru clanking about in my thoughts, looking for something else to tie itself to, when I noticed the two people we had just been talking about walking across the room.  They were heading toward the door, with the guy in the lead.  
Just as he reached the entrance, the guy pulled open the door and gave me a look that was not very friendly.  
I could feel myself trying to hunker down.  I looked around, but no one else at my group's tables seemed to notice.  During a break in the conversation, I got Mitsumi's attention.
"Those two people left."  
She gave me a thin, snickering little smile.  "I know.  I saw."
"The guy...  He kinda glared at me as he walked out."  
She chuckled.  She wasn't surprised.  She returned to the conversation Mark (another alias) about how to pronounce certain Japanese words.  
So...  Please be assured that is not my habit to tie people up and hold them captive for my own purposes.  
And for those two people that overheard me, if they ever happen to read this: For reminding you of how dangerous, rude and uncivil reality can be (basically doing unto you what it felt like the universe had been doing unto to me) I can only say...
申し訳ございません。I offer my humble apologies.  


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