ENKAI JOE: Ok, I was drunk....

Some things are unescapable.

Working for a Japanese news station was my introduction to the unwritten law. No one said I had to bring the doughnuts. No one said I had to make the tea, replace the toilet paper or change the toner. It was just something I, a lowly intern, did. It got me noticed and earned me acceptance. I worked overtime when everyone else did and left early accordingly.

This group-oriented ethic is the reason why, eventually, I would find myself plastered, mic in hand, in front of the President of the company.

Such is the surrealism of enkai.

Enkai is the after hours ritual in which every employee from President to intern is expected to partake. A way for everybody to let their hair down and show their inner child. It involves heavy drinking, tiresome jokes and inevitably that scourge of the exhibitionist ego...karaoke.

Dude, you may be my boss tonight but tomorrow all I’ll see is you belting out Like a Prayer on your knees when I deliver your faxes in the morning.

Enkai exists to put your coworkers in a different light. Even if just to show everyone that we are all capable of being arseholes.

Kuge san, an eternally upbeat lady in HR, once delivered an astonishingly soulful rendition of Lauryn Hill’s Killing me Softly. The older employees preferred the oldies. For some reason, every time I find myself in the company of older Japanese men and karaoke, we eventually wind up singing Ob la di ob la da. Cyndi Lauper is popular too. Few things are more sobering (hilarious?) than watching a bunch of inebriated Japanese men bouncing to She Bop.

Yuuki san, the news manager, was hardcore. He’d get up and tackle the monster weepy ballads by X Japan. (Blecch!) Oh and he did it with tears in his eyes, dudes. Damn well gave us the soft edges of his soul for 8 and a half whiny minutes while I made out with Mikuro the camera tech.

The first song I ever humiliated myself to was Judy and Mary’s Sobakasu. An ear-abusive number about a girl with freckles lamenting the fact that no one will love her. Somehow a rabbit and a frog are involved too. Nah, dunno why. I was 17 and still raging in anime throes.

Now I am a fucking show off, I confess. I can’t help it, it’s all I got. I may be drunk, I may be white, useless and retentive as Czech toilet paper but dammit, I CAN READ THEM FUNNY L’IL SQUIGGLES!!!

No one is impressed but the ice cubes. No one’s listening either. They’re just watching the spectacle of drunken white chick bopping to Green Eyed Monster like some sugar glazed train wreck.

Eventually I moved onto cheesier business. Ai no Shirushi originally by Spitz but covered by both PuffyAmiyumi and Paul Gilbert...for some reason. I find it easier to just make up the words as I go along while my speech slurs and my vision crumbles.

If I am feeling ambitious and semi sober, I like Shiina Ringo’s cover of Momen no Handkerchief (Cotton Handkerchief). My personal ode to Spring. Now that the weather is warmer, it is in a constant loop in my brain. This twinkly piece of la la pop is a dialogue between a boyfriend moving to a large city to his girlfriend in the boonies. He writes her telling her about all the showy gifts he’s sending her and all she does in reply is wish for his return.
Of course by the last verse he’s left her and what does the skank do?

She asks him to send her a handkerchief...to dry her tears.

I do not reccomend karaoke under non-enkai conditions. The last time I did, I don’t remember leaving the club. However, I do remember waking up somewhere in Queens with this
this in my head.

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Blogger mary said...

ahhh, happa-tai!

2:12 PM, April 09, 2005  

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