Monday, April 16, 2007

The tuna night

In a warm night, when the wind is gently breezing around my body, there is one memory that comes back to me again and again. It is about two university undergraduates lying on the banks of the Sumida River in downtown Tokyo at dusk, just like a pair of tuna fish in the Tsukiji fish market. One is Ken Shiotani, the fat (or in other words, "gravitationally challenged") philosopher of temporality and other enigmas. The other is I, his best friend at that time and since, bubbling about everything like a boiling kettle.

In those days we hang out together and talked about difficult things in general, so there was nothing unusual about our killing time on the riverbank. Still, that night stands out as a hallmark in our youthful investigations. We had a can of beer each, with very casual clothing. We may have looked like two homeless people, or aspiring candidates thereof. There were a number of couples strolling along the river. Night was falling, and walking with your loved one was the only sensible thing to do. We talked about science and philosophy instead. We were clearly the odd ones out.

The couples, seeing that there were two shabbily dressed blokes with beer cans, apparently talking nonsense, chose to do what was clearly sensible. Each of them unfailingly made a large detour along the bank, avoiding us in a great circular trajectory, going back to their normal strolling behavior once they were safely distant from the two strange persona non grata.

I don't know why that night stands out so vividly in my memory. Maybe it is a symbol of our youthful misery, or perhaps it is rather that of a sublime glory in deprivation. In any case, I do cherish the remembrance, wishing that I could go back to that very night as an ignorant youth.

Theoretically, we could restage our "tuna night on the bank" anytime even at a mature age. Only stupid social customs and mannerisms prevent us from enjoying the fruits of poignant follies. Maybe I should get a can of beer and call up Shiotani and head for the Sumida River at this very moment.

4 comments:

susie said...

Forget social customs and mannerism. Call your friend and have another tuna night.

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