The year 2000 was a banner year for you, wasn’t it, Peadar?
One of the best. Early in the year, I was hired full-time, albeit on a limited contract, at a university which gave me a lot of time for writing, and a research budget that paid for traveling. I would publish quite a large number of articles on architecture and design and city planning in both Japanese and English, which in turn would catch the attention of the media. Before long, I would become something of a minor celebrity, appearing on TV and talking about what a dismal, shabby-looking country Japan had become thanks to “development” and “modernization”.
How to win friends and influence people, huh?
Oh, I always tried to make people laugh even when I was being critical. Like Vonnegut, I, too, “can have oodles of charm when I want to”.  Besides, I had been in the country long enough, and understood the language well enough, to know which buttons I could push, which I couldn’t.
And would you say your married life was going as smoothly?
Haruka and I had entered a state of mutual acquiescence by then.
She did her thing; I did mine.
What was your thing?
After the disappointment of the previous summer, I didn’t go out with the guys as much anymore. No more Happy Cock for Peadar. Which was just as well: a budding career was keeping me busy. If I did go out, it was usually with Kei or with students and faculty or with people from the local media.
She had her own friends and would go to movie previews or have wine parties at the home then.
You were sleeping in separate rooms by then, weren’t you?
We were, yes.
Care to . . .
There isn’t really all that much to say about it. One night my snoring got to her and the next thing I knew she moved her futon to the other room and never returned. It was hardly a surprising development: while we had been sleeping together for over six years, we hadn’t really been “sleeping together” for a very, very . . .
Can’t remember the last time, can you?
Yeah . . . Funny that.
Pathetic is more like it, Peadar.
It’s not that our relationship was completely dysfunctional. Haruka and I would take a short trip together once a month. We would also go to the movies or check out a new restaurant every other week or so. We weren’t fighting nearly as much either.
Why do you think that was?
My income was stable, for one. And thanks to Kei, my heart was, too. But much more than that was the fact that Haruka had asked if she could spend the summer in America again. “By all means,” I replied. “Stay for three months! Stay for half a year!” And once it was decided that she would spend the months of June to August in the States all I had to do was count the days until I could be “single” again. It’s easy to endure something when you can see light flickering at the end of the tunnel.
 Quote is from Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions:
“In 1972, Trout lived in a basement apartment in Cohoes, New York. He made his living as an installer of aluminum combination storm windows and screens. He had nothing to do with the sales end of the business—because he had no charm.
“Charm was a scheme for making strangers like and trust a person immediately, no matter what the charmer had in mind.
“Dwayne Hoover had oodles of charm.
“I can have oodles of charm when I want to.”
The first installment/chapter of A Woman's Hand can be found here.
A Woman's Hand and other works are available in e-book form and paperback at Amazon.