(this poor man was passed the freak out on the train, last Friday. I kept watching to see if he was still breathing. he was completely unaware of the train starting and stopping, people streaming by or his briefcase slipping away from his hand. the rest of us watched him breathe and snickered superiourly to ourselves. when the train arrived at Tokyo station we all kinda looked ackwardly at each other... should someone wake him up? but no one did. as my friend would say, "that's not the Japanese way.")
Sure, sure, you may think that binge drinking is socially acceptable in America but frat boys got nothin' on the masses of Japanese salary men. The problem is that Japanese are a remarkably reserved people. They pride themselves in resisting dramatic shows of emotion. They are not inclined to outward dramatics. If there was ever a place for an over paid psychologist to lecture about sharing feelings, this is the place.
so what do they do?? They drink. a lot.
In training we were asked what we would do if a businessman repeatedly came to class drunk. our answers ranged from kicking him out, suggesting a private lesson instead, ect.... but we were told we had it all wrong. we were/are supposed to continue as normal. this poor man (most likely a man) was probably semi-required to go out drinking with his coworkers and boss. its not his fault he's drunk. or so Ye Ol' Eikaiwa says.
this culture embraces the idea of, "he was drunk. he didn't mean what he said."
on one hand, I think this attitude is bullshit. it encourages alcoholism and gives people an excuse not to be responsible for their actions.
on the other hand, for all of us who aren't Catholic and don't have a priest to absolve us of our sins, how nice an idea to have a space, physical or chemical, where we can say whatever we want and not be harshly judged. how nice to have a place to feel safe expressing your true self.
of course, if you could do this without extreme inebriation that would be great but I am reminded of one of my favorite plays, "Three Viewings"
There should be a kind of safety net for these moments. A magic "shroud" you could use. You go up to the woman, you say:
"I've been meaning to tell you: I love you."
If she says, "I love you, too,"
great, fantastic, everybody goes to the prom. If she gets red in the face, takes your hand, and says:
"That's so flatterring, you're such a friend,"
then you say, "Excure me, but I have to lower the magic shroud now."
And she forgets everything said to her in the last thirty seconds.
not that we get *that* drunk, ever. but that's kinda the idea of drunkenness in this strange land I'm traveling through.