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Chapter Nine: The Almost-first time

January 28, 2011


Wednesday, Shinjuku station. I am panting and sweating and out of breath — the hot summer air is sticky and clings to my skin. My workplace kept me until 9:15pm, and I’d been sprinting down the streets in the Shibuya district to try to meet you, like we promised, at Higashi Shinjuku Oedo Line Station. You finish your Iai practice somewhere around 8:30, so will meet me after I finish my work at 9:00pm. But alas, there was a meeting that droned on past 9, and I am running late. I am so nerve-wracked I can barely stand still on the Yamanote Line. Please, please go faster! I plead madly to the train, as if it could hear my thoughts. Why can’t we just skip Yoyogi, come on! It’s almost like an altered state of mind: even the two minutes it takes to reach the next station feels like an eternity.


The clock is already turning 9:35pm, by the time the Yamanote Line gets to Shinjuku. I slice through the crowd on the concrete stairs, running down at twice the speed of the Salarymen and young girls making their way to Shinjuku’s myriad bars, but when I reach the station’s interior, my feet come to a halt.


Where the hell is Higashi Shinjuku??

I run and run, hoping that I can reach the right way, but I have to stop in my tracks several times, the station is like a labyrinth. Higashi Shinjuku….Higashi…I decide the quickest way to reach you at this point is to go to the Toei Oedo line and meet you at Higashi Shinjuku. It’s already too far gone to be “fashionably late” so I call you up.


“東京なんて嫌い!(I hate Tokyo!)” I blurt out, almost sobbing, and the a few startled passerbys turn my way. Go ahead and stare, your train stations are a nightmare for people who are in a rush.


“Hi Josef! I’ll be there in 5 minutes!” I blurt out. You say you’ll be waiting, and I hope not to keep you there too long.


But as I jump onto the Oedo Line, my heart sinks to my stomach I see that the train is headed not toward Higashi Shinjuku at all, but to Tochomae.


“What the hell?!” I whisper, looking at the line’s trajectory. It turns out the Oedo line is a loop, and Shinjuku station is not, in fact, connected to Higashi Shinjuku: I have to now transfer at Tochomae, running through an overhead corridor, then take the train that will take me first to Shinjuku Nishiguchi, then finally Higashi Shinjuku.

By this time I’m so exhausted from the running and frenzied map-gazing, I slump down and call you again: I am going to be yet another 10 minutes late, possibly 15.


I feel disgusted with myself. Lateness is a form of disrespect — even though I ran as fast as I could, I am still going to be over 30 minutes late. Josef has probably already left….I would be burning in irritation if I were made to wait so long, just after all that waiting on our first date.


As I bolt out of the Higashi Shinjuku stop, however, I see you there, in your green tanktop, a sports bag over your shoulder.

I run up to you, rambling incoherently, explaining my lateness.

“I’m so sorry! So, incredibly sorry I’m late..the line…stopped— Tochomae….”


But you just look at me sympathetically with those big blue eyes and hug me close, and murmur “Otsukare,” patting your hand along my bristle-hard black hair.

Even though you are just one year older than me, you are so mature, I can’t help but feel like a small child in front of you.


I think in shock that you are the most patient man I have never seen — surely, even I would be oozing disapproval if I had to wait around for an hour-and-a-half after practice for my map-illiterate partner, but you seem to take it in stride and recognize by my panting that I wasn’t late for . I recall in your profile that you had a lot of empathy, and I now believe this.  and we take the Oedo line to Kuramae,


We walk up to to the third floor of Sakura House. I walk past some young people in the kitchen, wondering what they are cooking.


Your room is 304: we enter.


It’s austere and sparse, but well-lit and very roomy. There is a triangular black clock on the desk, a computer, and a simple bed.


You go take a shower, as I wait on your bed, leafing through the Lonely Planet “Japan” guidebook and some Czech books on your bookshelf.


And to be honest, I don’t even remember what happened in the first few moments after you come back from the shower. All I recall is that I didn’t even have too much time to be embarrassed or self-conscious, for you are suddenly stripping yourself naked and pick me up off my feet.


“Oh—-!” I yelp, feeling weightless in your huge arms.


With a flop, I feel my back hit the bed, and you industriously pull my clothes off — I don’t recall what it was, probably a dress — and a shudder goes up my spine when I see the expression on your face. You’re staring straight at me, eyes half-closed as if in a trance, a small, pleasurable smile on your parted lips.


And I had no idea a mere smile could make my cheeks feel so hot.


As we begin to move together, and I feel the naked length of your body, you grab my breasts and knead them in your large, muscular hands.


“I have to tell you something,” I murmur, bracing for apocalyptic humiliation.

You stop kissing me, and look straight at me.


“Um….you might have to go slow with me because….I’m a virgin. This is my first time.”

“——-Really?” You say, your voice incredulous. I fear that I’m coming off as a creep, like the 40-year-old virgin.


But I’m a plain-faced, short-bodied Asian, so why should it surprise anyone that I’m a virgin? I wonder if I should tell you that you’re also my first boyfriend.

“Yeah. um…” I say, turning redder and redder from embarassment. “I uh, I fooled around before with other guys but I believed in waiting until marriage for sex and…well, I figure now, it’s like,getting  too late…”

What am I saying? Have I lost my mind? Am I implying that I’m one of those brainwashed women who wait until marriage for sex, that I fear I’m getting too old now, and that I’m now settling for you? I fear he may think so, because this because it’s all true.


“Ok,” you say, laying on your side beside me. “This is dick,” you say, putting your hand around your penis and swinging it around (I notice that it’s limp, maybe because of my disclosure?)

“And I put it into your pussy,” you say.

“Right,” I nod awkwardly. No shit, Sherlock! But I turn my eyes away miserably: the agony of being a newbie, a noob, is gnawing away at my confidence.

“Touch it,” you say, and I wrap my fingers around, where yours were. It starts immediately to harden in my hand, I feel the blood rushing through the rubber tube-like veins underneath. I blush, feel excited.

It starts to get erect, and it rises, rises, rises until it’s a stiff pink snake, reaching to touch your belly button.


“I don’t like using condums. It doesn’t feel as good, and I think it doesn’t feel as good for the woman too.”

“Uh, okay…” I say. “But we are going to use protection, right?”



“Have you ever been on the pill before?”

“No,” I say.

“I would like it if you take the pill,” you say, leaning back, muscles rippling like a marble statue of a Greek God. “I don’t like condoms, and It feels a lot better for the woman as well.”


Where do you get this aura of confidence, without sounding the slightest bit arrogant? I worry slightly about disease — sex without a condom would imply exchange of fluids, and that equals the risk of diseases….

You silence my thoughts by turning to me to kiss me on the lips, and tell me that we can wait for sex until we get the pill, so that it will feel special.

I agree, and am secretly anxious about what you think of me, but resign myself to letting it go for tonight.

I have managed to get into bed naked with a man, and this is more than I have had in the last 10 years or so. What creates this feeling of soul-hurting, this feeling of emptiness and a yearning to go back to time past? It is the disconnectedness with the moment, it is the loss of relationships that crystallize the perfect moments in life. I yearn to feel passionate and hopeful again, as I did in Paris, and I hope to recover that joie-de-vivre with you.



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