Party Time

© 2007 Brooke Allen
brooke@brookeallen.com www.BrookeAllen.com
Originally published in International Family Magazine

Have you ever held a party and had your first guest show up 45 minutes late? Did you have feelings of rejection and doubt? Perhaps nobody would come? Perhaps nobody likes you? Perhaps nobody ever did and they just got tired of being polite?

In some cultures, the feelings of others are more important than one’s own convenience.

John was a recent college graduate who was a member of my trading group when we moved from New York to Tokyo in 1992. The real estate market had recently crashed and with the housing budget provided by our employer, John was able to rent a three-bedroom apartment in Roppongi, the most desirable part of the city. Most Japanese “salarymen” could never aspire to live in such a place, even at the peak of their careers.

John decided to have a house warming party for himself.

He printed glossy invitations and handed them to everyone in the office. We were mostly Westerners and mostly male so, to balance the mix, he gave one to every beautiful young woman he ran across in Tokyo.

At 7:30 the doorbell rang. Fifty beautiful young women crowded the street in front of his apartment.

For more than an hour, John was the only male at his party and everyone felt a bit creepy, especially John. The women elected their best English speaker, “So, what is the deal? Is this party just all of us… and you?” John tried to explain that he’d invited lots of guys, but the ladies didn’t understand.

When the first male guest arrived after 9 PM he was greeted with a good deal of attention from the young women. By midnight, the sexes were fairly even and the party started to warm up. But John wasn’t having much fun because the females were shunning him.

In retrospect, John’s best tactic might have been to have a female friend play the role of host and for John to come to his own party at precisely 7:30. The women who arrived with him would not have viewed John not as creepy but rather as one of the rarest of all creatures: A Western male who was considerate of the feelings of others.

 

 

 

Arrive at the stated time. If you are the only one then you are either considerate or Japanese or both.

Advertisements

Mourning a Best Friend

© 2007 Brooke Allen
brooke@brookeallen.com www.BrookeAllen.com
Originally published in International Family Magazine

The first time I saw my dad cry was when Tallulah died. She was named after Tallulah Bankhead, the actress, because of their similarity of voice and propensity to drink from inappropriate vessels.[1]

Just as the best therapy following a miscarriage or stillbirth is to work on a replacement, my folks went downtown immediately and picked up Pookie.

My sister and I loved Pookie. She had only one neurosis. While she was indifferent to cars, she hated motorcycles and whenever she would catch up with one, she would try to puncture its back tire with her teeth.

We buried her in the backyard. This time I cried.

Then there was Charlie Brown, as dumb as a coconut and if you knocked on the top of the head he sounded like one. It is ironic that we gave CB to some astrophysicists who moved to Colorado; you’d think they would want be around smarties.

Tramp walked into our lives from the woods in the back. He played dumb and he fooled us for a season. Minutes after you would walk away he’d be tangled in the rope around the tree. I caught him out one day by watching from inside the house instead of going to his rescue. After twenty minutes of pitiable whining and yelping he stopped abruptly and unwound himself. He spent the afternoon playing at the end of his tether. One day Tramp returned to the woods and we never saw him again. We probably weren’t smart enough for him. He should have been the one to go to Colorado.

My wife doesn’t feel the way I do about dogs. She will tell you that she likes your dog, but she is just being polite. She doesn’t mean that she will like your dog if you give it to her. You’ve got to walk them or they crap in the house. They don’t last forever so they eventually crap out on you completely.

Once we all went to see My Dog Skip, a wonderful movie about a young boy whose emotional life was rescued by a dog. At the end our sons and I were crying. Eve’s arms were crossed and her head was shaking, “We’re not getting a dog. We’re not getting a dog.”

I’m sorry that my sons never had a dog. Dogs love life and are genetically engineered to be your friend. They aren’t as durable as you so they are likely to kick off before you do.

 

You can learn a lot about living and dying from a dog.[2]


[1] Ms. Bankhead famously drank champagne from her slipper at the Ritz hotel in London.

[2] Thorton Wilder said it better, “Many who have spent a lifetime in it can tell us less of love than the child that lost a dog yesterday.”