Paris seems to be, without any doubt, the western city most beloved by Japanese people. The people of the rising sun must prefer the “gray mouse” to the “yolk egg”, at the very end.
Fashion for their restaurants started here and developed throughout Europe, a long time ago. Only in Italy it never really caught on, especially in Rome, this is why I was a bit late catching onto the trend, but certainly made up for it later.
The first time I met a Japanese, it was in Paris. We were at a friend’s party, and, that evening, he courted me, making me feel both flattered and surprised as I’d never been drawn to the Japanese or Asian people before. But, apparently, this Japanese liked me. I think my dislike was due to their cartoons, because they invaded us bringing to the epicurean Roman civilization the notion of pain as the only way to progress in life, and obsession for sex. They learnt us that a pair of boobs was all that you needed in order to succeed, which was also, a few years later, Berlusconi’s mantra. Just one last digression about Asian people: the Chinese allowed Mao to lobotomize them, “how could it be possible?!”, one might ask, “so many people and not even one well organized- revolution!”. (The Italians didn’t rebel either, but there are less of us and we cook much better).
Back again to the “yolk egg”, I’d never really been so close to one of them. And it had a certain effect on me. So, in Paris, I was initiated to Japanese food and the Japanese as well. I remember his sardonic smile of someone excessively full of himself. He was working on a PhD thesis on Proust with one of the most important French professors, though Proust is, by far, one of my favourite writers. This author was able to create a world but the Japanese I had met had taken this world for real and totally plunged into it.
One evening, we went out for a tea. We were sitting in a coffee in st. Michel, shooting the breeze and, before leaving, he caught my hands in his and held them tightly, a gesture definitely belonging to another culture, but sweet of him and I started to think that maybe Japanese weren’t so bad, after all. Even if, I couldn’t help noticing that his hair were excessively bristly. Then once he kissed me, I wasn’t sure about kissing him, but perhaps the charm of the exotic. Anyway, his kiss was quite slimy and monorhythmic so while we were kissing, I thought he should be someone who didn’t fuck very well and, also someone who deserved as many horns as a silk screen painting collection of Michelangelo’s Mose. Anyway, he was there, insisting with his tongue, maybe thinking he was the best lover ever and also the chosen one, ok, but chosen by whom? Well, chosen by Proust, of course! When we met again, he had just heard that I had gone with a common acquaintance the evening before, an English. An English, the Japanese bitter enemies! So all of a sudden, in his mind, I became kind of a bitch. Anyway, while I was trying to explain that the English guy was really just a friend and we just had a beer and a good conversation, which was true, I realized that I really didn’t care about what he thought. We kept walking for a while and, at a certain moment he shows me, on his mobile, a couple of girls, because he wanted me to become jealous but his trick didn’t work. So that night I saw his hair become bristlier and bristlier and heard him crying against me: “You’re totally full of yourself!”. Well, in that very moment, I was his mirror, he couldn’t see me but he was seeing himself. Anyway, think about what the Japanese did at Pearl Harbour, I mean, they have never been realistic, as they also thought of winning against America. In addition, when he saw his Italian friend tried it on with me he didn’t say anything as, he told me “Italians are friends!”. Perhaps this is also the reason why they were allies during the War. Strange as it seems, this Japanese won a prize as “best researcher on Proust” of one of the most prestigious institutes in Paris! But, on the other hand, someone who spends his entire life working on a writer who wrote his most famous piece on a madeleine-and a dry one- can’t really have understood that much of life.
Sometime ago I had lent him a scarf, because he asked me it and now I wanted it back before leaving. By my surprise, his reaction was really unexpected. He shouts again against me, “NO, you GAVE it to me”, and with a gesture of anger, he vehemently launches my scarf to the ground. He had also asked me an italian coffee machine once, but that was a gift, so I think it is still laying in the middle of the street.
Maybe, in his mind of “Du cote de chez manga” he thought I should have left him my scarf, because I was in love with him and wanted him to keep it as a memory? Or maybe he just wanted the scarf as a memory of me, because I was leaving and, maybe, if only he had asked in a gentle way…
So, I don’t think I will go out again with a Japanese guy, but I still go to Japanese restaurants, even if I prefer pasta to rice, as eating rice regularly can cause constipation.
Some years later, I met him again at a friend’s party. He was there, staring in the middle of the room, wearing such a horrible shoes, of which he must have been proud, as they were clearly new, very big and with an extremely long tip.
I thought he was still angry at me, but I was wrong. He stopped me and tried to talk to me, but the conversation ended as soon as I was swallowed up by people who were still arriving at the party.
Ps: I’m still friend with the English guy, we just haven’t kept in touch. Somewhere I must still have the book he gave me, “Voici des ailes” by Maurice LeBlanc, with a nice postcard inside, written in such a cute “italinglese”, because, unlike Japanese, English are poetic souls as, to them, belong the two biggest poets ever, W.Blake and J.Keats.
 It has recently been discovered that, because of the crambles, Proust’s Madeleine must have dwelt a long time in the sideboard.