More things learned from Japanese TV

Trends & Culture - March 16th, 2001
Robert J. Collins

by Robert J. Collins

11. Consuming beer approaches the limit of the pleasure/pain principle. (Chug that stuff down. The whole thing. Non-stop. Slam the empty glass on the table.) The writhing, grimacing and head-clearing spasms showcase the agonies of the ordeal— the subsequent sighs of satisfaction are virtually orgasmic in demonstrating the obvious relief of having that stuff safely in the belly. Lots of people around, laughter and good times.

12. Consuming any liquid from a glass, can or bottle nec­essarily involves the “swallow glump.” (Here goes. Down the hatch. Glump, glump, glump.) If done properly, the “swallow glump” will rattle small items on shelves and bounce origami to the floor.

13. Consuming super-heat­ed, still-boiling water poured into a cup of instant or dried food particles must be accom­plished within 11 or 12 sec­onds. The whole mess must be sucked, shoveled and poured into the digestive system (see pleasure/pain principle above) while still bubbling. (“Ahhh-hh,” is the proper remark after­wards while wiping sweat from face and fanning steam from ears.)

14. Consuming tiny little bottles of energy drink will get one through the most horrendous of circumstances. Witness the two dweebs in short pants who shoot rapids, climb verti­cal cliffs, scale mountains, leap across broad chasms, and (as my daughter once pointed out) run through the forest jumping over fallen logs. At the end of their little adventures—where encouraging shouts of “fight-o” have been yelled back and forth to save each other’s lives (even after tripping over a log in the forest)—they relax and each consumes a tiny bottle of the energy drink which  they unscrew with a deft twist of their thumbs. (See pleasure/pain principle above and the “swallow glump.”) I’ve had that energy drink. I could­n’t unscrew the cap of those lit­tle bottles with one thumb if my life depended upon it.

15. No one—man or woman—can walk into a bar alone, sit down and order a drink without having a considerable amount of emotional baggage that has obviously been lurking below the surface for a very long time. Going into a bar alone does not simply mean cooling one’s heels somewhere, catching up on paper-work, relaxing with a drink, killing time until the next meeting, or catching one’s breath from the pace of the day. It means going alone somewhere to wait out the converging forces of despair, betrayal and abandonment bound to erupt and thereby lead to complete devastation. Because otherwise the man or woman would be in a joint with two or three hundred colleagues and associates drinking the same drink as at the bar, but in shoulder-bumping close quarters with those colleagues and associates. Alone is bad. A crowd is good.

16. Just like French films— in which the Eiffel Tower is visible outside every window—Japanese young trendies all live in slick digs looking out over Tokyo Tower. The view of Tokyo Tower was particularly impressive in a TBS evening drama wherein the externals for the scene outside the slick digs were shot on Yasukuni Dori on the far side of Shin-juku. (I suppose with a para­chute and telescope one could see Tokyo Tower for a few sec­onds from there.)

17. It is possible for phlegm, puddles of it, to shoot out the nostrils of laughing, giggling or even aggressively smiling females. This applies particularly to younger females. Which is why the complete hand, fingers extended, must mask the lower face. The knuckle of the index finger where it joins the hand will apparently stop up the flood-gates. (Best yet, after the laughing, giggling or aggressively smiling stops, one must take quick peeks at that knuckle.)

18. Food. National obses­sion? I don’t know if the word “obsession” is strong enough. National mania? That might be better, but it still seems tame, given the hours per day devot­ed to programs on the prepara­tion and consumption of food. These programs even spill over into prime time where we all can see bi-valve mollusks whacked in half and served with moss from the bottom-of-the-rock surprise. (“We have studied the Japanese, your excellency, and we have con­cluded they care more about food than anything else… except what’s for dinner.”)

19. Cute girl talentos can go anywhere and do anything. Cute works, and cute is forgiv­en. Oh, to be cute!

20. Cute girl talentos go off on “dreamy trips” where they visit countryside inns, eat countryside food and bathe in countryside hot springs. (Although most people watch the programs for the food part, I actually know guys who watch for the bath scenes. Disgusting.) What we will not see, of course, is those cute girl talentos being anything but 100 percent Japanese cute girl talentos. Non-Japanese girls on the scene? Are you kidding me? They could maybe be allowed to eat the food, but slipping into that bath? With their dif­ferent kinda skin? And bizarre habits? And convex chests? It would send the countryside locals over the edge trying to find spelling assistance for their “No foreigners allowed” signs.