Turning Japanese Again, Reception Party in Chiba

We woke up several times this morning. Once when the phone rang (Mike and Brenda checking in on us), when Kaz and Chris’ new refrigerator showed up, when the phone rang a second time, and when the earthquake hit.

And this time, I’m not joking.

It was a light one, maybe only a 3 on the Richter scale, but enough that the building swayed (I’ll assume for the moment that they’re designed to do that). For a moment, I wasn’t sure what was happening. Then I rolled over and went back to bed.

Small earthquakes here are common. Chris doesn’t even bother to tell us about them anymore. This was the first earthquake I was actually awake for that I could feel. When I lived in Vancouver, we supposedly had one or two, but I never felt one. When I worked at Black’s Camera back in high school, one hit Oakville. It was very deep and nothing really shook. Instead, it just sounded like there was a garbage truck parked right next to the store (which was impossible, since there was a store next to ours — I found out later that it had been an earthquake).

Pretty much everyone slept in. This was going to be a long day, so sleep was on the order. Chris and Kaz were up early for the arrival of the fridge, but Tony would remain comatose until well after 10:30. That would be about when the household started to rise and move forward with the day.

Chris shaved (mostly his head) while Kaz and I took turns showering.(The bathroom space allows for a shower and a shave independently, but only if the showerer and the shaver can handle being that close to each other). Jen had to wait until Chris and Kaz were ready to head out the door to Chiba.

They had to leave early for preparations of some sort. Jen and I would head over later, around 17:30. Until that time, Jen played video games, and I read.

The day was cold and miserable, and waiting for the bus to take us to the station was not a particularly enjoyable experience. Luckily, we both had umbrellas, and I had brought a pair of gloves for just such an emergency. We wouldn’t go directly to the train, however, since we needed to do a bit of laundry at Chris’ old apartment first (the new apartment doesn’t have a washing machine yet).

On the walk over, the phone rang. It was Chris. They had forgotten a guest book at the apartment for people to sign their names in. It was something that had been used at one of the previous parties, which I had never seen or used before. They wanted it for the party there, and asked that I go back for it.

Dropping the laundry off, we returned to the station. Jen waited (and ate cake) while I hopped in a taxi and handed the keitai to the driver so Chris could give him instructions. Despite my near non-existant Japanese and his near non-existant English, we seemed to have a fairly interesting conversation, though I have no idea about what specifically. Returning to the station, Jen and I headed to Chiba.

Despite not having been there for almost a year, I knew where the bar was. For a while, I almost doubted my memory and thought I might have to call Chris for directions. But before I knew it, the glowing breasts of the bar’s namesake (and no, I’m not kidding) appeared. It was then I suddenly remembered some of decor. Fortunately, someone had the smarts to remove all the decorations that wouldn’t be particularly appropriate for some.

Unlike the party in Toyohashi, most of the people spoke English, which made our mingling a lot easier. The fact that I also knew more people here also helped. Scott was at the door the moment we walked in, as was his girlfriend, Miyuki. The last time I’d seen them was when we’d left Club Mix after a full night of bar-hopping last year (see [[My Trip to Japan, Tokyo and Shibuya]]). I don’t know if Miyuki remembered me, but Scott did.

Shinichiro was taking pictures of everyone as they arrived. People would later sign the photos and give them to Chris and Kaz (although some didn’t make it into their hands, one of which was Tony in his monkey suit). Shinichiro and Scott planned the party, though I got the impression from Scott that Shinichiro did most of the work (Shinichiro lives in Chiba, but Scott lives in Narita — the distance does have a bit of a factor).

Kaz and Chris were hiding in the “Love Room”, a secluded room in the back, until Scott and Shinichiro announced that it was time for them to be introduced to the awaiting audience. When the time finally came, the cue was “Mr. and Mrs. May”.

I don’t think Kaz is changing her family name, but the announcement did hit home. Chris and Kaz were engaged almost two years ago — they met almost exactly two years ago. For that length of time, they were together (even if they were living apart) such that I just saw them as more than just a couple. But they’re married now. My best friends are almost all married now. Gerry, Stuart, Therese, and Chris. Of my closest friends, only Kathryn and I remain. And Kathryn is in no rush (as she put it).

Chris and Kaz tried to do the circuit of people, but had significant difficulty,mostly because everyone wanted to talk to them. Eventually, Scott called for the toast, and the party officially got underway.

The food was excellent (there was a breaded shrimp in some sauce that might as well have been liquified crack for how good it tasted), the beverages flowed freely, and the conversations as I travelled around the room lively.

I was initially afraid that Jen might feel more out of place than usual. She might be taller than me, and look older than she is (the “Guess Jen’s Age” game continued; the nearest guess was 18), but the simple fact was that she didn’t know a lot of people here. That said, however, she dove into a couple of conversations and did quite well for herself. Of course, it didn’t hurt that many of the conversations were with guys, who for all I know were hitting on her.

Jen discovered that sake isn’t the only drink she likes. Someone introduced her to a “China Blue”, a drink with blue curacau, some other liquor, and grapefruit juice. Before the end of the night, Jen would have had several of those, a couple beers, and a smattering of other things. My aunt and uncle are gonna kill me if they hear about this any time soon. At least Jen’s with people she knows and there’s far less risk involved than if she were out doing the same things with other people.

Scott had planned a game of bingo — similar to a team-building game I had one once with the Mercedes Benz USA team back in January. You’re given a sheet with the bingo grid, but no numbers — the fields are blank. You go around the room, meeting new people, and get their name. You add it randomly to the fields, and then a draw of names might get you a bingo.

I didn’t play. Instead, Brian (one of the guests) and I sat, talked, drank, and gave our names to everyone who came by. We figured: “Why go to the effort if people will come to us?” It was immense fun, and we had a good laugh as a result.

There were many bingos, and many prizes. Jen won a “personal massager”. I think I almost died laughing.

Naome and I had several conversations, and at least one kung-fu tickle fight. Unfortunately, Naome isn’t as ticklish as I am, so there wasn’t much I could do to her. I had to try, though.

Slowly, but surely, the crowd emptied out into the cold, wet night until it was Chris, Kaz, Jen, Scott, Miyuki, Shinichiro, Riku, Naome, and Cory (another teacher). We were all looking to head home. This had Jen supremely disappointed because there had been much talk, from well over a month and a half ago, about going to karaoke.

I’m not a singer. Never have been. Yes, I was in the Concert Choir back in high school (see [[Music Trip to Orlando, Introduction|Music Trip to Orlando]]), but that was as an ulterior motive to go down to Florida. So going to karaoke was never really high on my list of priorities.That said, though, get enough drink in me, and you’ll have a far easier time convincing me of some things. Like singing.

In the eventuality of karaoke coming around, I’d even planned some of the songs I’d wanted to do, mostly Elvis and Tom Jones tunes (they suit my voice far better than, say, Avril Lavigne). Such as it was, that was something I didn’t have to worry about.

Those of us heading back to Yotsukaido climbed into two cabs, the rest headed off in different directions. It had been a long night, and a long sleep was in order…

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