Chapter 2 -From Despair to Delight
[This story is serialized so if you wish to read the chapters in order, please go to the categories: humour, nonsense, books, characters or Japan.]
It is hard to believe that until recently the merkin was entirely unknown in Japan. Its meteoric leap from the trashcans of history into the pants of millions of young Japanese women and onto the glossy pages of dozens of magazines is entirely due to the tireless efforts of one man: Tadashi Yasuda. Of course, luck was on his side.
On that steaming-hot August day, the kind of day that smells thrive on, Yasuda had endured a harrowing train journey into central Tokyo from his home in the suburbs. A middle-aged man on his right farted at regular intervals while a young lady on his left, who constantly fiddled with her mobile, had such rancid breath that he at first thought she had farted too. He would have gladly given up his seat and moved to where the air was a little fresher, but the train was so packed that he couldn’t move at all. Every now and then, as the train lurched and all those standing were thrown around, he had to press his head back against the window to avoid contact with the crotch of a man whose trousers had suspicious-looking stains around the flies.
Shortly before Yasuda walked in to the building at 10 AM, Shinji Ono had just experienced another loud, public rollicking from his boss The general manager of the design department hated Ono; and the feeling was mutual.
Ono had been told to meet the visitor in reception and tell him the meeting was cancelled. It was a task that Ono did not enjoy doing. His boss knew this, that’s why he had ordered him to do it.
As the elevator went down, Ono’s anger started rising. He just wished he had the guts to thump his boss on the nose and walk out of the company. The idea was appealing. The writing was on the wall; the company was going downhill fast and he would be out of a job soon anyway; so he decided to go out in style. It was just a question of getting the timing right. The next time that little bastard belittles me in public, he decided, I will drop him.
The elevator stopped and the door opened. Ono stopped fantasizing about beating up his boss and stepped into the lobby, where Yasuda, drenched in sweat, was waiting. There was an insolent, menacing air about Yasuda, and Ono took an instant dislike to him. Suddenly he began to feel glad that he had been delegated to turn him away.
“My name is Ono,” he said, smiling, as he approached Yasuda. “I’m afraid that Mr. Horie, the manager of the design section is unavailable, how can I help you?”
Yasuda’s smile, about as sincere as that of a circus clown, seemed to peel away in slow motion. His reaction was totally unpredictable. “Unavailable?” he practically screamed. “If he was going to be unavailable, why didn’t the bastard call me and cancel the frigging meeting.” Ono was momentarily stunned. He had never been spoken to like this before by anyone other than his boss.
“My car is off the road,” said Yasuda, “impounded, actually, so I had to travel here by bloody train. Do you know what it’s like on these damn trains?”
Ono shook his head, unable to get the words out, although he knew exactly what the trains were like. After all, he traveled in by train every day.
“It’s like sitting inside a pair of underpants,” said Yasuda, his voice starting to rise, “Dirty bloody underpants. There is every possible stench you can imagine in there, and some you don’t even want to think about.”
The reception area went totally silent. The three receptionists were standing to attention with their heads bowed. A group of visitors waiting for their appointments looked on in bemusement. And the security guards fussed around in the background, unsure of how to respond to a situation that, while not yet threatening, was highly unusual.
“Please accept my humble apologies,” said Ono. “You have every right to feel angry at being inconvenienced.” He bowed deeply.
“Of course I fucking have,” snarled Yasuda.
And that is when the idea hit Ono. He nearly leapt into the air with joy. He could have kissed Yasuda. The offensive man was becoming more and more appealing with every foul phrase he uttered. He quickly assessed the opportunities for revenge. This man, he thought, was perfect. He was just the kind of character his boss needed to meet. He would play a little trick on Mr. Horie to teach him a lesson.
“Now that you are here,” said Ono, “perhaps you could tell me the nature of your business. In the meantime Mr. Horie might become available and you could be able to meet him after all.”
“I’m here to make a presentation on a merkin,” said Yasuda.
“A merkin? What’s a merkin?” said Ono.
Yasuda’s brow furrowed, and his nostrils dilated as he inhaled deeply before replying: “A merkin’s a pubic wig!”
Ono coughed to stifle his laughter. He had never heard of anything so insane in all his life. “Does Mr. Horie know that your presentation is on a …… a merkin?”
“Not yet,” said Yasuda. “He only knows that I have a product that can revitalize this company and spread its name around the globe.”
The man is the perfect weapon for my revenge on Horie, thought Ono. He guided Yasuda to a reception room and asked him to wait while he spoke again to Mr. Horie. He called from the lobby and told his boss that the visitor had a sensational idea that would turn the company around. Horie did not ask what the idea was. He just told Ono to take Yasuda immediately to the directors meeting room, and that is just what Ono did.
© Charles R. Pringle 2007
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