This is part two of a three-part story (read part one here to catch up, and part three in a couple of days), where foreign woman Rosaria shares with us her experiences with a challenging relationship with a (married) Japanese man. It might not have the fairy-tale ending we grew up looking for, but still offers a unique look at one experience of being a foreign woman in Japan–thanks very much to Rosaria for sharing!
The next day, we went for a walk, and I asked him about his wife. He told me that he met her at his office, they dated, she became pregnant, and they married. He said that after the baby was born, they’d stopped sleeping together. That was one of his many lies, but at the time, I didn’t care whether anything he said was true or not. I just wanted to be with him, and I didn’t care if I had to share him with his wife. While we were walking, Hiroshi asked what he could give me, and I told him I’d be really happy if he had his teeth cleaned and taken care of at the dentist. He was shocked and said his wife never suggested that he check his teeth. I told him that his wife didn’t care what was in his mouth–she only cared about what was in his wallet. He thought this remark was really funny, but from that point on, he never neglected his teeth.
At the beginning, because I was uncomfortable sleeping with and using the bathroom with someone I wasn’t used to, we would book separate rooms whenever we stayed at a hotel. He never complained about this, and took advantage of the situation. Every night we took turns making love in each other’s beds. Then we’d go to our rooms and have phone sex until we couldn’t stand it any longer, and then we’d start all over again. He was crazy that way. No matter what, he was always in the mood for love. He was the only man I had ever met where the feeling was mutual.
Hiroshi had an easy temperament. He liked to go to the gym and had a lot of energy. Timing is everything in a relationship, and at the time we met, he seemed so refreshing compared to my usual group of bored, brainy friends. He didn’t have their angst. He was always upbeat, and he made me laugh all the time. That was probably why I could dismiss the fact that he’d never read any books, and couldn’t relate to the music I enjoyed.
On one trip to Europe, a friend of Hiroshi’s suggested that he fly Virgin Air because the seats were bigger than most other carriers, and that economy class was almost as comfy as business class. Hiroshi took his advice, but the plane was a nightmare. We were squished in small seats, and a sloppy Japanese woman sat by the window next to us and kept getting out of her seat, and threw cups and newspapers all over the floor. We were miserable. In the airport, on the way back to Tokyo, Hiroshi took the plane tickets and threw them into the nearest trashcan. Then he marched to British Air, laid out his credit card, emptied every bit of cash from his pockets, and ordered two first class tickets back to Tokyo. On the way to the waiting lounge, he kept repeating, “Yes, no more horrible plane!”
My place had an unusually large entrance way, and I thought that an armoire in it would be great to use as a coat closet, but finding one in Tokyo was almost impossible. One day an antique pine wardrobe, that was perfect for the space, was delivered to my house. Hiroshi later told me that he took it from his own bedroom, pretending to his wife that he sold it to a friend.
Although Hiroshi and I spent a lot of time together, I couldn’t reconcile the fact that he was married. How his wife didn’t know about us seemed a miracle. At least twice a year we went abroad. We took hundreds of pictures that he kept in albums in his office. He often stayed at my place during the week, although he always left by daybreak. We spent weekends out of town together. I was especially jealous when we went shopping for his wife’s presents. Because we spent so much time abroad, he had to bring her back some gifts. So to save shopping time, he’d buy for both of us in the same shop. I hated it. He’d ask me if a certain sweater or pair of shoes would look good on her, and all I could think of was her dead from rat poison. Who cared what she wore? I could never understand why he didn’t think that shopping together for his wife wasn’t odd. Once in the airport in Paris, Hiroshi pulled out a huge list of Chanel face lotions that his wife had ordered. I was jealous. I told him that nothing could fix that face of hers. She’d be better off seeing a plastic surgeon. He began laughing so hard that I joined in as we headed off to Duty Free to shop for his wife.
I always imagined that Hiroshi’s wife was beautiful and elegant, probably because he was so fussy and meticulous. He’d notice details in everything from ceramics to the freckles on my nose, so I figured his wife was quite a number. He told me that she weighed 98 pounds, so I pictured a Japanese Audrey Hepburn. When I saw her for the first time, it was shock number one. At a party I attended that Hiroshi was having after a fashion show, all his staff members were acting weird, staring at a woman who was standing nearby and then back at me. I glanced over to see what was going on, and it suddenly clicked, but I couldn’t believe what I saw. There stood an ugly, skinny woman, with bucked teeth, and elephant ears, which looked even more prominent because of a silly Kangol cap she wore backwards, homeboy style. I wondered was he so particular about me, but chose a woman who looked like that? I was bewildered, furious, and dying for a fight. Everyone at the party was enjoying the scene. I stomped over to where Hiroshi was sitting with some business associates, and I demanded whether or not he was going to take me home that night. He calmly said, “of course.” He had a way of avoiding an argument. His wife left before the party was over. Hiroshi took me home and stayed until six the following morning.
I loved the fresh, baby smell of his skin and mouth and the way he made me feel. He would often tell me I was beautiful. Sometimes, before we went to bed, he would, oh so slowly, unravel my braid, loop by loop, letting my hair fall loosely down my back. Whenever he came to visit, he lit incense and candles. He treated me like a gardener tends his prized flowers. During those years, he never lost his affection and longing for me. Nevertheless, his married situation often drove me crazy. Whenever I packed Hiroshi’s bags, it angered me that his wife never noticed that I folded his socks one over the other, into little tubes; she connected them only at the top. If I were his wife, as soon as I opened the suitcase, I would have known right away that something was rotten in the state of Denmark. So I had a plan. I saved the hair from my hairbrush, and I couldn’t wait to pack his things. I wanted his wife to acknowledge my existence. So with every layer of Hiroshi’s clothes, I gently placed strands of my long, dark hair, making hair lasagna, in his suitcase. All my effort was for nothing, and my masterpiece went unnoticed. A few days after our return to Tokyo, Hiroshi came to visit, and nothing was mentioned about the suitcase, to my relief.
Read the conclusion of how Rosaria and Hiroshi’s relationship progressed here, available from August 3.