Sunday, January 22, 2012

For ABC Wednesday, Magpie 101a and Three-Word Wednesday


I don't usually do reruns. But the prompt this week seems to demand re-posting the following from several years ago.
You see, I was once pleased to be given an interesting assignment: I was to make a movie about a top American corporation. The film would involve some shooting in Japan.

So I flew to Tokyo, ready to go to work. As I got off the plane, I believed that the Japanese were really taking this motion picture project seriously because they were giving me the finest welcome possible. I was surprised to see that I was being met at the airport by a large limo. And not just a limo; the car had a uniformed driver and another chap, also uniformed, who rode shotgun - though in Japan I suppose it would be shogun :-) - in the front passenger seat.
I was able to cruise through the world-famous Tokyo traffic jam in comfort. In fact, I had never had a job, of any kind, that started off so auspiciously. They drove me to their head office and I got to meet everyone. They were all friendly and welcoming; there was a lot of bowing, me doing my share, of course.

It was lunchtime, so they asked if I would prefer going to a steak-house or would I like to try some authentic Japanese food? Well, of course, we had steak-houses back in the Stytes and besides, I thought it would be a good political move to opt for the indigenous cuisine, so we headed off for what I would today recognize as a sushi place.

I say I would recognize it today; I didn’t recognize it then. Truth is, a few decades ago there weren’t many sushi joints in the U S of A, and you certainly didn’t see sushi for sale in just about any American grocery store. Most Yankees of that era didn’t know from sushi; the idea of eating raw fish was regarded as just sort of weird.
However I could see that this restaurant I was being taken to was elegant and upscale – i.e., expensive – so I looked forward to an excellent meal.
But there was a fly in the saki. Something had been worrying me, and it had nothing to do with raw fish. It had gradually dawned on me, as time went on, that I was inadvertently sailing under false colors.
The reason for the great welcome I had received? I came to realize that they thought that I, a humble artisan, a simple, rather impecunious documentary-maker, was actually one of the top executives of the American corporation in question. That explained the limo and its two charioteers.
That was bad enough. Just as bad was the question, how on earth do I go about bursting their bubble, telling them of the mistake? I had heard all about the importance of saving face in the Orient; would they think I had intentionally tried to trick them? Could it result in some sort of international train wreck? Would hara kiri knives be involved in any way?
At this point the waiter served the meal. I felt like I had just come into the big city from Mayberry; I recognized absolutely nothing that was being served. But one thing struck me forcibly. Among everything else on the plate there was a little creature there – who was walking around.
I had never gone in for ambulatory victuals. However, when in Rome… I took up my chopsticks and went after him. He valiantly fought off my preliminary attack. This was followed by a certain amount of thrusting and parrying. Fortunately, I remembered the rules of fencing from my college days. What was odd was that he seemed to know them too.
Then, while I sat there planning my next move, the little fellow climbed over the edge of the plate and lumbered off to the left. The Japanese are a polite people; the two guys with me were trying desperately not to laugh, but not succeeding. The waiter took pity on me and swooped the whatever-it-was away with a towel. In a way I was sorry to see the little chap leave; he had fought well, and with a certain panache.
Well, long story short – it’s been long enough – the gentlemen I was visiting took the explanation of the misconception well enough and, as that great Japanese playwright Shakespeare used to say, all was well that ended well.

51 comments:

Friko said...

I've never seen LIVE sushi before and would certainly not want to eat it.
Were you asked to eat a bug?

Tess Kincaid said...

Nice post, well worth another read, Mr. B...

Suz said...

oh dear..what WAS it?

zongrik said...

i would not want to eat live sushi, don't even like it raw

primed to dance

Steven Cain said...

I draw the line at alive.

Kate said...

Hilarious! That is one fresh entree!
Very entertaining tale- thnx!

kaykuala said...

Very interesting write, Berowne! I like sushi. It is something different from my normal choice of food. I'd like to try anything new at least once. I was in Holland a long time ago. I did a bee-line for herring. I heard of it before.It was crunchy, devoid of bones, with a certain aroma taken with chopped onions. After enjoying it many times only did I realize it was raw. I just continued as you could easily get them in the mobile eateries. They got on well with chips topped with mayonnaise.

Hank

Brian Miller said...

i watched a guy once eat a live octopus...its tentacles grabbing at his cheeks...i like sushi but that might be over the top a bit...

Wander said...

Intresting story, thank you!

http://wanderwithoutbeinglost.blogspot.com/2012/01/less-dire.html

oldegg said...

The great thing about this is your great experience and being able to dine out on the story (as it were) ever since.

Daydreamertoo said...

I saw a short clip once where they served a raw fish and the head moved. No, no, no..not for me at all.
Good for you for being honest and for trying to be polite but no, if any food on my plate moves. I'm not hungry. LOL Nicely told.

Karen said...

An interesting story!I prefer my food immobile. What the heck was it?

Helen said...

Chopsticks are not my strength .. though I love sushi! Great story. You have wonderful stories ........

Berowne said...

Helen: "Great story. You have wonderful stories ........"
That's because I have wonderful readers. :-)

Susie Clevenger said...

Nice story...I cannot imagine eating food that crawled around on my plate..I would not have handled it so well.

Lyn said...

You did say there was a fly in the saki...which you both must have enjoyed..
It's good to be mistaken for the rich and famous!!

Autrice said...

Don't you hate it when food fights back?

I appreciate your upbeat writing and clever sense of humor.

Doctor FTSE said...

Your posts are never less than entertaining. Thank you.

Trellissimo said...

I never regret my visits here. Great story . . again!

rel said...

konichiwa,
Although I resided in Yokosuka Japan for a period of time, my one and only experience with sushi was in your fair city back in the '70s.
Ah so,
rel

Berowne said...

Autrice: "I appreciate your upbeat writing and clever sense of humor."
Just as I appreciate your comment. By the way, I don't feel dull, I don't feel hollow. I found myself in your Blogs I Follow. :-)

Jinksy said...

Ambulatory lunch is NOT a good idea! LOL

mrsnesbitt said...

I have never been to japan and the only sushi I have tried was from Marks & Spencer - so culturally you are streets ahead! lol! I would not have been able to eat a moving creature! Would not go down well in Yorkshire at all! lol! Great post
Denise ABC Team

PatioPatch said...

not take away but walk away. Intrigued as to what it was that took off and amused by the case of mistaken identity. Perhaps live sushi is only for movie moguls.

Carver said...

I'm glad you posted this again. Very interesting story. I also loved your interview on the homepage of ABC Wednesday today. Lots of fun. Carver, ABC Wednesday team member

Kathe W. said...

what a great story and thanks for sharing it with us- hialrious the bit about the live part of your meal!La cucaracha?

Kathe W. said...

Oh and I forgot to say- I don't eat "bait" ewww

Kay L. Davies said...

Well, I like sushi, but not if it is self-propelled.
Nice about the limo and the warm welcome, too bad it wasn't really for you.
LOL
Meanwhile, you have become a worldwide famoso in your own write, thanks to Mrs. Nesbitt's wonderful interview and your more than wonderful responses to her innocently-put questions.
K

Roger Owen Green said...

Well, they didn't know that you WOULD become an international celebrity, raved about in blogs throughout the world.
ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Gigi Ann said...

All I can say, is I still have a smile on my face!

Berowne said...

Roger O G: "Well, they didn't know that you WOULD become an international celebrity, raved about in blogs throughout the world."
That translates into exactly how much in - er, you know - cash? :-)

Paula Scott said...

Great story told! Nice to know that you knew enough about the culture to think about what the right thing to do was! Now, I am wondering if the moving creature was supposed to be served?

Gemma Wiseman said...

O what a story turning a meal into an adventure of the swash-buckling style - even if the sword of choice is a humble chopstick! Enjoyed every tantalising word of this!

miss pie said...

sushi is a favorite... with legs walking not so favorite... quite an adventure of mistaken identity....

chubskulit said...

Hahaha what a great experience you have. I don't think I would be able to eat after seeing the walking "whatever" hahaha.

Rose, ABC Wednesday Team

JJ Roa Rodriguez said...

You got me reading from start to end and read again... Nice post..

JJRod'z

☆♥Shydub♥☆ said...

Japanese are very serious and focus when it comes to business dealings. You still able to get a quality treatment despite of the news that you were about to deliver. The ending of your story perfectly fit. Nicely done

Luna Miranda said...

i love sushi...but live? i tried live shrimp and it was delicious, but a live fly is out of the question. i'd rather commit seppuku.:p

Madeleine Begun Kane said...

What a great and amusing story!

sush said...

awwwwwww awesome

Sheilagh Lee said...

oh dear what was that creature?That was adventurous of you.I'm glad it all worked out.

Writer's Daybook said...

Delightful story.

Ramesh Sood said...

Indeed, it ends pretty well..thanks!!

helenmac said...

No one tells a story on themselves better than you do, Berowne. Thanks for repeating this particular episode in your life of wandering around the world getting into trouble!
HelenMac
ABC Team

Paige said...

Intelligent weaving of words.
Thank you for the journey.

Ann said...

I like nigiri and sashimi, less of sushi. Eat them with wasabi and pickle ginger.

Rinkly Rimes said...

A great story but the background interfered with my enjoyment. I got stripes before my eyes!

Berowne said...

Rinkly RL "A great story but the background interfered with my enjoyment."
Must be some specific glitch; ordinarily the background doesn't at all interfere.

jaerose said...

I am glad you re-posted..it was a real slice of life (shiver)..jae ;)

Berowne said...

jaerose:"I am glad you re-posted.."
And I'm glad you re-commented.:-)

Chelsea said...

Japanese are very serious and focus when it comes to business dealings. You still able to get a quality treatment despite of the news that you were about to deliver. The ending of your story perfectly fit. Nicely done

 
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