Just West of the Midwest Chapter 27: With Friends Like This…

Where to begin, where to begin?

I was going to start by once again scolding all of those who have done diddly to keep in contact with me, but I have to be honest… if you haven’t made the effort by now, it’ll take nothing less than a miracle to get you to change your ways. So, you’ve been saved from at least another half page of bitching.

You lucky dogs.

I believe I told you in my last correspondence that I had plans of going to a Jazz Festival in Saito at the beginning of August. Well, I did go and the music was great. I went with a couple of my friends from the Town Hall who I always manage to have fun with. During the concert, we met up with some of their friends and for the very first time since being here, I encountered a group of people who were either too afraid to talk to me (despite my efforts), or simply weren’t interested in trying and I felt very left out of the whole scene.

I made up the excuse that I was going to say “Hi” to some people I knew at the concert (which was initially true) and then sat myself under a tree and enjoyed much of the evening solo. The highlight had to be the big band orchestra from Kagoshima which played a rousing set of Glenn Miller, Kay Kyser, Jimmy Dorsey and Count Basie. The band actually had the normally timid Japanese audience tapping their feet with more gusto than usual. Some even danced! What was even more remarkable was that every single band member was under the age of 13! That’s right, this was an ELEMENTARY School band.Talk about your mind blowers!

I also ran across another AET at the concert, Alan, who lives in Saito, and we talked for a little while. Now normally, I’ve found that spending any amount of time with Alan is about as attractive a prospect as spending two years on a deserted island with a guy named Vinnie, who resembles the missing link, except that Vinnie wears a leopard Speedo and enough gold chains around his neck and rings on his fingers to make Fort Knox take stock. But on this particular night, Alan was NOT coming onto me like a RUSSIAN in Pusan and even introduced me to two of his very nice friends.

At the end of the evening, I made my way back to those I came with and didn’t seemed to have been missed for a moment. Oddly enough, this didn’t bother me in the slightest. I was tired and musically satiated and just wanted to go home and go to bed.


I heard from Raymond several times at the beginning of the month. He wrote once and called twice requesting I return to Hong Kong for his 30th birthday. He was very excited about the plans and told me he would ask for the time off and call me back during the next week.

It’s been three weeks.

Raymond’s birthday was yesterday and I haven’t heard a word from him.


I want to try to focus on the positive here. Between sending money home to pay for the M.A. I received but am slowly losing all grasp of and saving money for Christmas in Malaysia, I probably shouldn’t be planning any trips to Hong Kong, but Holy Crap! I’d sell the family dog (Sorry, Bree) to see Raymond again.

I just wish I understood why he makes these plans and then disappears. I’m sure he has some valid excuse, right?

Such as: his arranged marriage was set for last week; all the phone lines in Hong Kong have been engaged; he’s been busy rounding up all the bad guys in the city and bringing them to justice.

Christ, I hope it’s one of these and not that he’s been injured on the job… or worse.

I’m not sure I can take these highs and lows and this long distance, non-relationship romance anymore.


I also heard from Sakimura last week.

I don’t know if I told you about him.

We dated for a little while a while ago. (Yes, I finally ended things with Kyoto and No, I haven’t been just sitting by the phone pining for Raymond.) Then I was unceremoniously dumped.

Sakimura is always a lot of fun to talk to. He’s also very tall, speaks English very well and is super handsome to boot.

No wonder he dumped me.

I should have guessed something was up when he called again out of the blue. We were having a very nice chat on the phone and then he began to hem and haw about something.

It went down something like this:

The scene.

It’s about 11 p.m. and I’m staring at some strange T.V. game show where the object is to make the contestants go through a number of incredibly ridiculous stunts so that they can win a “Hello Kitty” pillow and a free trip to the hospital for broken ribs. Sakimura has been trying to spit something out, but doesn’t know where – or how – to begin.

Me: What’s on your mind?

Him: Well… there’s been something I’ve been meaning to tell you.

Me: Yes?

Him: Remember when I told you I had many girlfriends and you said you didn’t believe me because I didn’t seem the type?

Me: Yes. I believe you were rather insulted.

Him: Well… the truth is… you were right. You’ve been the only one.

Me: Really?

Him: Well… this is very hard to say…

Me: Just say it.

Him: You’ve been the only one… except… except… except for my fiancé. I’m getting married in October.

Me: Excuse me?

Him: My fiancee is coming to Miyazaki at the end of the month.

Me: Well, congratulations. I’m very happy for you. (And the funny thing is, I was. After all, we only dated for a short time and I was well past the hurt of being dumped – yet again.)

Him: I’m sorry. Are you very upset? (Apparently, Sakimura, seemed to think my reaction would have been more akin to threatening suicide if he didn’t ditch his fiancé and run back to me.)

Me: No, Sakimura. I’m not upset.

Him: You’re not!?

Me: No, I told you. I’m very happy for you. I do wish you had told me this from the start, but I still think it’s wonderful news.

Him: But… I… well…

Me: Well what?

Him: I still want to be friends.

Me: Of course we can still be friends. (Now silly me. I was thinking he actually meant FRIENDS. You know, buddies, pals, etc.,)

Him: Even after I’m married.

Me: Of course, I’m sure we’ll be friends for a long time to come.

Him: (Once again feeling confident.) I would like to see you right now, but I’ve been drinking and don’t dare drive. I really want to spend the night with you.

(The lightbulb FINALLY flickers on.)

Me: Are you saying you want to continue sleeping with me? [I said we dated for a short time, I didn’t say we never had sex. (You try and watch “Basic Instinct” on a date with an attractive and charming man and see where it gets you!) You want me to be your mistress? (I laughed.) I don’t think so, Sakimura. Good luck to you… and even more so… Good luck to your wife.

Him: But…I-

But our conversation was over – as was our “friendship.”

Although I was a bit surprised, I wasn’t altogether shocked. After all, infidelity seems to be a time-honored male custom here in Japan. I must admit, he was so charming and handsome that I did – for a split second – contemplate the affair, at least until the fiancé arrived at the end of the month. But then I heard Sam in my head.

“What’s he like?” she would have said if she’d been privy to the conversation. “Forget it, Anne. He isn’t worth it.”

And the Sam in my head was absolutely right.

No man is.

Final Tidbits:
We’ve added a couple of Canadians to our list of favorite people to hang out with, Greg and Jeff.

Both Saskatchewanians. One from a place called Swift Current.The other from a place called Moose Jaw. Both derive great pleasure in slamming Americans (join the wildly popular club), but mostly do so with a wicked and witty sense of humor. I, in turn, do my best to retaliate and the exchange has become an entertaining challenge.

He’s a cop from Moose Jaw…

He’s a cop from Swift Current…

Together… they spell trouble.
(‘Cause they can’t spell it alone.)

Their job… to hunt down anti-Canadian sentiment.

Their mission… to ask people to PLEASE stop.

Coming to a theater near you!

“CANADIAN COPS: They can get you a beer… or they can get you dead!”

Author: Anne Celano Frohna

I have been writing for as long as I could hold a pencil in hand and would not feel complete without it. And I actually made a meager living at it (and as an editor) for 25 years. I worked for newspapers and magazines, in graphic arts and advertising, and wrote several local history books. But I have also taught English in Japan, been a Nanny in Italy, worked in and for museums, was an Airbnb Superhost for four years, as well as an Etsy shop owner where I sold vintage items I found over the years of thrift and yard sales. After moving to Arizona with my family in 2010, I completed a series of different writing projects, including two books of creative non-fiction: Just West of the Midwest: a comedy (Based on journals I kept during my two years as an English teacher in rural Japan.) Within Close Range: short stories of an American Childhood (Short stories and poems about growing up as the middle of five children in suburban Chicago.) I've also written children's stories and continue to write short fiction, but have recently found my voice in poetry. This blog, however, is where my greatest passion comes alive. I am also a mother of two wonderful girls, Eva (23) and Sophia (21) and wife to one wonderful husband, Kurt.

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