June 27, 2020

Mahjong Parlor

It’s another long night sitting in the dirty old mahjong parlor, the one that’s down the paper strewn street next to the lonely bars full of lonely people drinking lonely drinks. I got there early and I am staying late (again). I am eating some mediocre pork ramen some old man fetches from a restaurant and hanging out with friends, most of whom I can’t understand psychologically or linguistically...but, they’re friends. They’re always there too...there is some music coming from a corner of the room and I’m kind of disappointed that it’s some god awful music from the west and not some authentic Japanese music, whatever that is. It’s getting pretty late and I guess I should be heading home now but I don’t want to. It’s cold and it’s starting to snow so I might as well wait a little longer. I wasn’t expecting that. The real truth is that the parlor is a distraction. I’m hiding from something and for most of the people that are here, they are hiding too. We’re all running away and hiding from something and at least tonight, we are all running in the same direction. It might be an unhappy marriage, the pressures of a job, or some financial troubles.or hell, in my case all three. In here though, nobody asks about crap like that. It’s a place to run away and hide for a few hours. It isn’t any different really than the guy who works outside of his house all day so he doesn’t have to come inside and be with his wife. He likes to build birdhouses in the garage...sure he does...everything’s okay as long as they stay apart. What am I even doing here? Let me be honest about it. I came over here with noble intentions but I didn’t cut it at the zen temple. I should have known better I guess. I thought that was the answer but all it turned out to be is a truckload of questions and that truck was beginning to run over me, so I did what the average coward would do. I put my tail between my legs and ran. I traded in meditation for medication; the alcohol variety. My enlightenment is now coming from a dark bottle and when he runs out of my desired enlightenment, I buy another. There was reality and I didn’t like what I saw. It was cold and distant like the sound of the foghorn that sounds in the harbor. It sounds so lonely, it sounds like it is lost and so am I. I can barely see through the thick fog that runs through all of my brain and there’s no lighthouse standing on the shore to keep me from running into the rocks. All these problems rattle in my head just like the sound when the tiles are getting mixed on the table by the players. Click Clack Clack Clack Clack. Just a constant clacking in my brain. Maybe it’s all the problems running into each other. That doesn’t solve anything. Everything is random and i don’t have any control over what tile comes up when. Finally, the owner says the parlor is closing up or at least I think that’s what he said. He knows he’ll see me tomorrow. My Japanese is about as good as my credit which is to say, not good. I count my losses and then I put on my jacket and hat and go out into the snow covered streets. What to do now? It’s quiet now with just a passing cab from time to time. The snow is still falling lightly and the quiet almost feels religious in nature. I think to myself that maybe the bars on Daikokucho are still open; of course they are. I smile to myself because I already know that they’re open...I know that because I’ve had a lot of these nights before.

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