A week before you were to meet Akané, that “private physician” of yours e-mailed you.

Come to think about it, that’s right, she did. 

Had you forgotten?

About that night? No, no, no, no. I’ll never forget thatnight. It’s the timing I wasconfused about. See, whenever I think about Satomi, our relationship, the core of what I remember are things that occurred much later.

It had been almost six months since you last heard from her, hadn’t it?

Yeah, I suppose it had been that long.


I called Satomi back and, right off the bat, she apologized to me for having been such a stranger. She had been busy with her experiments, she explained. She had been practicing domino liver transplants on mice, of all things. It’s quite alright, I assured her. After all, how could I complain? I’d been busy myself . . .

Self-absorbed is more like it.

Perhaps . . . But, now she was telling me she had some free time that evening.



“I’m sorry, it’s so sudden, but . . .” 

“No, no. Tonight’s fine. I’d love to see you.”


And, so you met.

Even though Satomi was dressed casually in jeans and a simple white blouse and her make-up was done ever so subtly, good God, was she ever beautiful. But, no matter how attracted I was to her—and I could have eaten her up right then and there—I didn’t want to start a relationship with her until she could understand, andaccept, my situation. The last thing I wanted to do was ruin it before it even began.

That hadn’t stopped you before.

No, I must admit it hadn’t.

Why do you think you were so . . . shall we say circumspect . . . when dealing with Satomi, then?

Because she was . . . special.

Special? Aren’t all women special in some way or another?

Satomi was The Complete Package.

The Complete Package?

A real catch. She was beautiful, tall, and just exuded femininity. And in spite of that, she didn’t have the attitude that many beautiful, confident women tend to have. Now, if that was all there was to her, if her charms had only been skin-deep, I probably would have already sealed the deal, so to speak. But, no, in addition to her looks, she was exceptionally bright. A surgeon, no less! And yet, she was approachable, personable, fun to be with. She was, in short, The Complete Package. I mean, what more could a man ask for?

I take it her coming from a family with money didn’t hurt, either. 

No, I will admit that it didn’t. But, then, I’ve never been a gold digger. Why if I were, I would have skipped with alacrity down the aisle with skinny ol’ Tatami years earlier.

After dinner at a small Italian place near your apartment, Satomi had a favor to ask of you.

She did, indeed. Satomi confessed that she had been so busy with her work and experiments that she had completely forgotten to pay her electricity bill . . . 

And then she asked if she could spend the night.


“It’s embarrassing,” she says. “I’ve got no lights and no air conditioning. I couldn’t bear to sleep in this heat . . .”

I am taking a large sip of grappa when she says this and swallow hard.

“Sure,” I say, sputtering. “Mi casa es su casa.”

“Is that Italian?”

“No, it’s Spanish. It means, ‘My home is your home.’”

“Oh, thank you, Peadar!”


Later, while Satomi is taking a shower, I’m waiting in my futonwith an erection you could crack walnuts with. When she comes into the bedroom, she’s wearing nothing but a towel, wrapped loosely around her. Standing at the foot of my futon, she lets the towel drop and in the dim light of the paper lantern I can finally see what I always suspected: Satomi has all the curves of a real heartbreaker.

Satomi crawls under the sheets and as she snuggles up against me she can feel my excitement.


“Yes, well . . .”

Satomi nimbly undoes the button on my boxer shorts and, pulling Paddy out, exclaims: “How odd! Were you circumcised?”

“I was, yes. It’s an American thing, I’m afraid.”

“I’ve never seen one before. Mind if I look?”

Before I can reply, she pulls the sheets back and starts inspecting my penis as an appraiser might assess an heirloom.

“I like it,” she says, giving Paddy a peck, and without further ado takes him into her mouth.

“S-s-satomi, th-there’s s-something I’ve been meaning to tell you.”

With my cock still in her mouth, she mumbles, “You’re not gay, are you?”

“Me gay? Hah! No, I’m not gay. Last thing I am is gay. It’s something else, something that you deserve to know, and wouldn’t be fair to not tell you.”

“So, tell me now,” she says, looking up at me, cock still in her mouth.

“I want to, but I would much rather tell you afterit’s no longer an issue. The thing is, Satomi, I’m crazy about you. I have longedto be with you.”

“I’m here.”

“I know, and I couldn’t be happier about that.”

“I can tell,” she says, and returns to fellating me.

“P-p-please, Satomi, s-s-stop.”

“You don’t like it?”

“I love it. I’ve been looking forward to this ever since we first met . . .”

“But now that I’m here, you don’t want me?”

“I do. I dowant you. Can’t you feel that?”

“Then let me help you with it.”

“Lord knows I want you to. But, don’t. Please don’t. I need more time. That’s all I ask for. Just a little time, a month perhaps, and everythingwill be different. This is important to me. I want little more of this world than to make love to you right now, but I want it to be . . . perfect. Without . . . complications. Please.”


How chivalrous of you, Peador.

Selfish is more like it. Had I told the woman in whose mouth my cock now was that I was married, why, she probably would have bolted out of the apartment. 

Naked, with your penis in her mouth?

After removing my cock and getting dressed, of course. 

You could have lied.

I know. I could have told Satomi any number of things: “I’m ‘kinda seeing’ someone, but the relationship is on the rocks.” That sort of thing. But suppose we did start dating, and after a while began to think about marriage, well then, she would eventually learn about Haruka. And, she would discover that I hadn’t always been telling her the complete truth. And that’s the thing, when it came to Satomi, I had always gone out of my way not to lie to her. That’s how seriously I had been thinking about her. I didn’t want the relationship to be damaged by half-truths from the get-go.

Not an unreasonable hope, I suppose.

I also didn’t want the relationship to be infected by the malaise . . .


Yes, malaise. That emotional paralysis I mentioned earlier. Little seemed to affect me or move me anymore. I may have cried the night Kei and I broke up, but now that she was gone . . . Why, the sloughed off skin of a snake had more sensation than I did.

Speaking of snakes, what happened after that?

I took the rest of my clothes off and we lay together in each other’s arms as naked as Adam and Eve and just as innocent, kissing, kissing, kissing . . .

Do you ever regret not . . .?


Not even a . . .?

No. Considering what would happen to Satomi a few years later, I think that night couldn’t have ended any better than it did.

And the night with Akané? How would you say that ended?


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.


Though it wasn’t for ever—Kei and you would remain “friends”, as they say—but, at the time it felt finalenough and you fell into a deep blue funk.

At least I was feeling something. 

Better to feel depressed than to feel nothing at all, Peadar?

Yeah. After the initial depression waned, I was overcome by an emotional paralysis. It lasted right through to the end of summer and I couldn’t shake it no matter what I did. 

Or “whom”?

As you well know, my default nostrum in those days was often sought between the legs of a woman. So, naturally I called Xiuying up . . .

Your “default” girlfriend.

. . . and arranged to meet. I took Xiuying to the very same “ethnic” restaurant I had taken Kei to . . .

To exorcise the place of unpleasant memories.

. . . and the two of us talked about life and our dreams and what have you. And several drinks later, we went back to my place and rolled about the futon until the wee hours.

And as you lay naked and utterly drained next to her, she made a suggestion, which, considering that your on-again-off-again affair had lasted over three years, should not have been unexpected:






“Why don’t we get married?”


“Let’s get married.”

I’d like to ask Xiuying how you say, “Out of the frying pan, into the fire” in Chinese, but I just lie there and sigh.

“Don’t you want to marry me?”

“I wish I had married you.”




Did you really?

If the choice had been one of marrying Xiuying or marrying Haruka, then yes, I would have chosen Xiuying. 

But that wasn’t the choice then, and that wasn’t what Xiuying was asking you now.

No, it wasn’t. But, if I had told her the truth—that the very last thing in the world I wanted to do was to marry another person now or ever—why, Xiuyingwould have left me right then and there.




“I want to have your children!” she exclaims.

It’s not an entirely repulsive idea, so I say, “I’d like you to have them, too.”

“I want you to come inside me.”

I want to come inside you.”

“Make love to me.”

“I will, but let me rest a bit first.”

“Make love to me now.” She grabs my flaccid cock and starts shaking it. “Hey, Paddy! Wake up! Xǐng lái, Paddy!Xǐng lái!”




And did you?

Did I what?

Do what she asked.

No, I ended up dozing off. And, as luck would have it, the two of us overslept the following morning. Didn’t even have time for a quickie, thank God.

Ever wonder what would have happened if you had done it with Xiuying that morning?

I dread to know.

You would be the father of rather bright, but somewhat funny-looking half-Chinese boy today. You’d also be barreling your way towards a second messy divorce.

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.


When the year 2000 came to an end, everything appeared to be on the up and up for you, didn’t it, Peadar?

Yes, definitely. Work was going exceptionally well and my relationships with women were . . . 


Kei, Xiuying, Dr. Satomi, and my wife. Kei was satisfying my present emotional needs; Xiuying, my present sexual needs; Satomi, the need to think beyond the present . . .

Could you elaborate?

Since Satomi and I had first met at the end of the summer, we got together for dinner every three or four weeks or so. Although I was very attracted to her, I never put any real effort in trying to “woo” her, so to speak.

Why not?

Satomi was different. I wanted to have a relationship with her, but not until I had uncluttered my life.

Divorced, you mean.

Yeah. Or at a minimum, until I had gotten separated. I wanted the relationship to be legitimate, to be founded on honesty rather than lies. If I had slept with her before she knew that I was married, well, it just wouldn’t have been the same. It would have ended up being just one more affair. As a result, Satomi and I would go out for dinner every now and again, hold hands as we walked, kiss good-bye, and promise to meet again. G-rated stuff. At the time, I imagined that she might one day become my wife. But just not yet. Fortunately, Satomi was so busy with her own work, her residency and training, that there was never any pressure. I could, and did, take it nice and slow.

And, as for your actual wife?

Haruka was focused on her March departure and tried to remain on her best behavior till then, mercifully keeping the daily grief of our conjugal life to a minimum. I would learn by and by that there was another reason for her having been so accommodating during those months. But I’ll save that for later.

In early 2001, you got your permanent residence visa, didn’t you?[1]

I did and, let me tell you, it was a huge relief. Now that I had it, I no longer had to worry about what would happen to my visa status if I ever managed to get divorced. More than that, it meant I could leave Japan whenever and for as long as I wanted without having to go through the hassle of re-applying for a visa.[2]

The permanent residence visa ironically meant that you no longer had to reside permanently in Japan.


Did you want to leave?

Not quite, but all of Haruka’s traveling was giving me itchy feet.

Things sound as if they couldn’t have been better for you, Peadar.

At the time, it did seem that way. Even Kei’s husband was supposed to be out of town for a month or so from April.

[1]The Permanent Resident visa is similar to a Green Card in the U.S., but much harder to get. In the past, one had to have lived a minimum of ten years in Japan, having paid taxes, taken part in the national healthcare scheme, and been an otherwise good “citizen” during those years. There were, of course, many exceptions.

[2]This is not quite an accurate description of what the Permanent Resident visa allows under the new system, which requires visa holders to return regularly or forfeit the visa. 

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.


A few years before I remarried, I dated a cute girl off and on for about six months, six contentious months. Named, Kiku, after the Chrysanthemum flower, she had been betrothed to a young doctor who was too busy with his residency to “attend” to her. Whenever he did manage to find the time to take the poor girl out, he would inevitably doze off. Kiku was so starved for affection and sex that a simple kiss would really get her juices flowing. I remember that I would lie on my back, let her crawl up on top of me, and she would go and go and go and go.[1]Every time she spent an afternoon at my place—she was from a “good” family, and almost never spent the night—it was like she was trying to make up for lost time, trying to squeeze out as many orgasms as she could from one session . . .

Is there a purpose to this story, Peadar?

There is. About a year after we broke up for the nth and last time, I caught sight of Kiku in town. Same story: I was waiting for a traffic signal to change when I saw her across the street. She was about seven or eight months pregnant and my first thought was . . . 

Dodged a bullet. 


And what was your first thought upon seeing Akané with a baby?

Confusion. Confusion tinged with sadness.

So, you start asking around about Akané.

This time I must admit that I did. I went straight to Off Broadway and asked Stanley if Akané had been by recently.



“Your girlfriend?”

“My ex-girlfriend,” I correct.

“Oh, yeah,” he says with an exaggerated roll of his eyes. “Get this: she’s screwing that Yomiuri Giants slugger, Martinez.”

I shrug.

“You know, Martinez, that lard-ass from the Dominican Republic. The guy’s gotta be seven times heavier than Akané, twice as tall.”

“Ah, right. Maru-chan.”[2]

“I’m tellin’ ya, those baseball players got a girl in every town and Akané’s the one he fucks whenever he’s in Fukuoka.”

“So, Akané hasn’t had a kid, then?”

“Akané with a kid? Get outta here! If there’s anything incubating in that twat of hers, it’s an STD.”

[1]It should be noted that when Japanese “come”, they “go”.

[2]Due to Martinez’s rotund figure, he was nicknamed “Maru-chan” by his fans. Marumeans “round, circle”.

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.


As the summer of 2000 was coming to an end and Haruka’s return was approaching, how were you feeling?

Naturally, I had mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I didn’t want the summer to end—Kei and I were having a wonderful time—on the other hand, I knew our affair couldn’t realistically go on forever. Kei, for one, showed no interest in leaving her husband, and, the truth be told, I wasn’t all that eager for her to get divorced.

Why not?

I guess it goes back to the notion of stability being the death of passion. And then there was the fact that throughout the summer Kei was still seeing the doctor. I don’t know if they were having sex or not, but they were still meeting every now and again.

She told you?

I could sense it. As much as I liked, even loved Kei, I did not trust her completely.

Is that why you started seeing a doctor of your own?

That was purely coincidental.

Some people say that there are no coincidences.

And I will counter that Satomi wasa coincidence. The reason I started dating Satomi, if you could call what we did dating, was not because she was a doctor, but rather because she was an intelligent woman who happened to also be drop-dead beautiful. I would elaborate but it’s a tangent that would just go on and on and on.

Fair enough. So, the night before Haruka returned . . .

Kei asked me to meet her at a yatainear her workplace at two.

In the afternoon?

Sorry, two at night. Kei was working the evening shift the hospital and got off around one or so. Like I said before, it wasn’t unusual for us to meet at such odd hours. Looking back on it now, I don’t know how I was able to work on so little sleep.


And copious amounts of caffeinated energy drinks. 


Kei and I met as promised at “Number One”, our second favorite yatai. We ordered beers, yakitori, bowls of ramen . . . And just as we were about to dig in, the sky was lit up with lightning, followed a half-second later by a deafening thunderclap. The winds kicked up and, in an instant, the heavens opened up and rain poured down. Summer storms can get pretty exciting, but there’s nothing like getting caught in one while you’re sitting in a jerrybuilt yatai. Water dripped down from all the joints in the roof. The tarp that had been rigged to the whole thing was flapping violently. Raindrops ricocheted off of the asphalt like bullets. It should have made our date a disaster, but Kei and I just laughed and laughed through it all. And when it ended—as abruptly and it had begun—Kei whispered into my ear that she wanted to spend the night with me.

What about her husband?

That was my question, too. The man was away on a business trip, Kei explained. She had been keeping it a secret so that she could surprise me.

Nice surprise.

You’re telling me. So, after settling the bill, we walked a few blocks towards the wharf where a massive love hotel with a tropical theme called Chapel Coconuts was located, checked in, and went to our room. We made love until dawn and, when we parted later the next day, there were tears in both of our eyes.

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.


One day Kei asks me: “Would you like to go to Kurokawa Onsen?”[1]

“Kurokawa? Of course, I would!” Deliciously impure thoughts fill my mind and I am barely able to contain my excitement. 

“No sex, though.”

“No sex? What’s the point in going to a hot spring if we’re not going to . . .”

“I meanit! No sex.”

“Okay, okay . . .” I say, doubtful this is going to work.

“But we can bathe together.”

“Well, now you’re talkin’!”


A week later Kei and I are in the mountains of Kumamoto prefecture, driving past the village of Kurokawa, where many of the more popular ryokan[2] and hot spring baths are located. She turns the car onto a gravel road that crosses a shallow river and continues on up into a thick bamboo grove. At the end of the road is an inn that looks deserted.

“Is it even open?” I say.

“Yes. I made a reservation.”


All the baths, we are told by the innkeeper, are “family type”, meaning—wink, wink—private. We collect some towels and a key, then walk down a stone path to a small wooden bungalow. Once inside, we get undressed, wash ourselves off, and then step into the bath. Kei has draped a wet towel over herself, covering but not quite concealing the beautiful curves of her body. The towel covering my crotch is propped up as if by a tent pole.

“You want some help with that?” she asks.

“I’d be much obliged.”

As Kei goes down on me, the chirping of the cicada in the surrounding bamboo thicket reaches a deafening crescendo.



Later, as we are reclining at the side of the bath, billing and cooing, Kei asks me why I hate my wife Haruka.

“It’s not that I hate her.” I know what Kei means: kirai, the Japanese word for “hate”, doesn’t quite carry the same sense of revulsion that the English word does.

“Well then, why do you want to get divorced?”

“That’s a difficult question.”

“Yes, but I want to understand.”

“I don’t know really. We’ve been married for two years, been together for twice as long. You’d think I might be able to understand someone after being with her for four or five years, but I can’t. I don’t know what she is thinking anymore or what motivates her. I can’t understand how she has come to accept our relationship the way it is, how she can look at it and still consider herself happy.”

“Why not? You do the housework, the shopping, the cooking. You let her travel abroad . . .”


“If we were married, . . .”

Kei and me married, now there’s a thought. 

“. . . would you let me go abroad all by myself like that?”

“Probably not,” I answer.

“Why not?”

“The reason I let Haruka travel is because I don’t want to be with her. If she asked to go to a four-year university in America, I’d say, ‘Sure!’ and start helping her pack. I don’t miss her when she’s gone and I’m not particularly eager for her to come back. As for you, I would miss you, and I would long for your return. I’d also worry that you might find someone else.”

“And Haruka?”

“I’ve been pinning my hopes on her finding another man.”

“You’re terrible, Peadar. What if I told you I was going abroad for a long time whether you let me or not?”

“Then, I would go with you.”

Kei kisses me.

[1]Kurokawa Onsen (黒川温泉) is one of the better hot spring resorts in Kyūshū, if not all Japan.

[2]A ryokan(旅館) is a Japanese style inn.

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.


So, Haruka flies off to America in June, leaving you to your own devices for the next three months. You are “single” again and couldn’t be happier than a dog with two tails, which once more begs the question: 

Why didn’t I just get divorced?


As you well know, I did eventually. 

But not for several more years. Wouldn’t it have been better to be single all that time?

I can’t really say. Do I want those years back? Yes, of course I do! I wish I had still been in my early thirties by the time we got ‘round to divorcing and I’m pretty sure Haruka would now agree. But was that feasible then? Not really. And more importantly, would getting divorced sooner rather than later have changed where or who I am today? I doubt it. Besides, I am happier now than I have ever been—albeit dead tired most of the time—thanks to my three little boys. I tell myself that if the price of becoming as happy as I am today was having to endure those years with Haruka, then it was well worth it.

I guess that’s one way of rationalizing your indecisiveness. 

It’s not a rationalization!

Okay, okay. No need to get your knickers in a twist, Peadar. So, you were a single man again, right? How did things go for you this time?

Quite nicely, actually. 


Kei and I ended up spending a lot of time together that summer. Thanks to her work—she was a nurse . . .

I know.

Well, what some may not know is that nurses in Japan—those at the larger hospitals in particular—often work a variety of shifts, meaning Kei would sometimes have weekdays off or, even better, get off work at around midnight. 

How could that possibly be better?

It made it easier for her to stay out late. We might meet at a yataiaround midnight . . .


It’s a kind of outdoor food stall. They’ve all but disappeared from most Japanese cities, but in Fukuoka yataiare still popular places to eat and drink. Kei might, say, text me in the evening and ask if I was free. I usually was. And we would meet at one of our favorite yatai, eat and drink until three or so in the morning, and then I’d walk her home.

You’ve said that you didn’t often sleep with Kei. How about during that summer?

That summer was the exception. We were spending so much time together, meeting two or three times a week, that something of a “sexual nature” was bound to happen every now and again. But so much more important than the sex we were having was the nourishing affection we shared: the holding of hands, the hugging, the caresses, the kisses—all the things I had been starved for after marrying Haruka. That summer Kei and I made a lot of memories.

Such as?

It’s not that I did anything different from previous summers. I went to the same fireworks displays, had the same barbecue parties, saw the same summer blockbusters. What made it different was that I was sharing these moments with Kei.

[1]There are about 200 Yatai (屋台) in Fukuoka, with most located in and around Tenjin, the city’s busy shopping district. While yatai were once fairly common throughout Japan, only Fukuoka still has a large number of them today. Most of the yatai serve either yakitori or rāmen or both.

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.


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”. [1] 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.

And Haruka?

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.


[1] 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.


Why do you think your relationship with Kei would last as long as it did?



Yes, instability. Uncertainty. Unpredictability. All those “ins” and “uns” that are like fuel to a fire. Although Kei and I met regularly—about once a week, sometimes more—there was never any guarantee that at the end of a date we would end up rolling in the sack. Most often we did not. A typical date, if you could call it that, involved the two of us walking in the evening under the branches of the willow trees along Meiji Avenue, talking about life. But every once in a while—usually when the imo jōchū [1] with umeboshi [2] she liked to drink went to her head—Kei would cuddle up next to me, rest that fragrant head of hers on my shoulder, and let me kiss her. The world could burn down around us and I wouldn’t have cared at all. It was that very unpredictability—not knowing when or where we would have sex again—that drove me mad with desire. It might be this afternoon; it might be two months from now; it might be at my home, in a dark alley, at a love hotel, or, yes, even on the deck of a yacht moored in the wharf at Minato. I would never know until she was lying naked below me, nipples like radio dials pointing upwards. The woman was as inscrutable as they come. And it was that very inscrutability, that unpredictability, which fired me up so and gave the relationship far more life than it would have everhad if Kei had just allowed me to get bored with what an easy a lay she actually was.

Excuse me?

I think Kei in her own way was forever trying to put the brakes on the relationship, to stop cheating on her husband—a man she really did intend to stay with until death did they part. But, by being inconsistent with her affection towards me she only succeeded in throwing fuel onto the fire. If we’d had a “normal” affair with regular sex, we probably wouldn’t have stayed together for nearly as long as we did.


[1] Imo jōchū (芋焼酎) is a clear, pungent liquor distilled from sweet potatoes. It is produced mainly in southern Kyūshū.

 Umeboshi (梅干し) are sour pickled plums.

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.


Unlike Xiuying, when you first met Kei, she was still single, wasn’t she?

Yes. She was about six months away from getting married to her boyfriend of some seven years.

A nurse, she certainly lived up to the fantasies lascivious men have of women in that profession, didn’t she?

I’ve never gotten that.

Gotten what?

The nurse fetish. Whenever Ithink of nurses, my head is overwhelmed by images of bedpans, needles, Nurse Mildred Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. . .

But Kei was different.

Very much so. For starters, Kei was extraordinarily pretty . . . 

And nurses are ugly?

In my experience, nurses in Japan have all the charm of nightclub bouncers. Kei, however, was rather girlish. She had long light brown hair that was thick with curls. More than her looks, though, the thing that I really fell for was how cheerful and carefree she was, her upper lip curling up like a duck’s beak whenever she laughed.

Kei was full of life when you were feeling sapped of it.

Exactly. It still amazes me today that Kei could have had such a sunny disposition at the time when she was working in the ER, dealing on a daily basis with death—traffic accidents and messy suicide attempts, that sort of thing. Had I been in her line of work, I probably would have become suicidal myself.

You would end up having a relationship with Kei that would continue past her own wedding and right up to your divorce from Haruka. 

More or less. And, it all started one night when Kei and I happened to be alone. She had many questions, and doubts, about marriage.



“Have you ever been unfaithful?” she asks, a playfully devious look in her eyes.

“Excuse me?”

“Have you ever cheated on Haruka?”

“Me? Cheat? On Haruka? No, no, no, no . . . I’m a happily married man.”

“I don’t believe it.”

“Why do you ask?”

And then she confesses:Ever since the engagement, I’ve been terribly attracted to men.”


“Is that . . . normal?”



With an opening like that, how could you not let yourself in?

It’s funny, but I wasn’t all that captivated by Kei at first—I’ve never been into the cute, girlish type—but then she goes and tells me how horny she’s been lately, and Bingo!

Oh, it isn’t that odd, Peadar. One of the things males find most irresistible in females is something that is remarkably basic. 

What’s that?

Availability. As much as you boys like to think differently, you are the weaker sex. 

Oh, I know. Good God, how I know.


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.


I suppose it’s only natural that you would start thinking about Akané, again. After all, your Chinese “friend” wouldn’t let you crack open her fortune cookie, so to speak, and the girls at the Happy Cock weren’t interested in your . . . ahem, and Nahoko had the good sense to run as far away from you as possible . . .


So, two weeks before your wife is scheduled to return, you start asking around about Akané.

It wasn’t like that at all.

How was it then, Peadar?

I went to a bar . . .

Happy Cock, again?


The Crazy Cock?[1]


The Monstrously Huge Cock?

Oh, for the love of God!

I’m sorry. I couldn’t help myself. 

I went to Off Broadway.

Another gaijin bar.

Yes, another gaijin bar. A friend of mine named Stanley worked the kitchen there.



As I’m sitting at the counter eating a burger, Stanley emerges from the kitchen, wiping his meaty hands on his apron, and says, “Hey, Peadar, how’s it going?”

“Meh . . .”

“Your girlfriend was in here the other day.”

“My girlfriend?” I’m not sure who Stanley is talking about.


“Oh, right. That girlfriend,” I say, a wistful smile on my face. “She come here often?”

“Off and on.”

And though I would rather not know, I can’t keep myself from asking: “Alone?”

“Akané Alone? Hah! That girl may arrive alone, but she never leaves this joint that way.”

And the wistful smile drops from my face . . .

Stanley continues: “Akané was in here a few weeks ago. Sitting exactly where you are now, Peadar. And this big black guy—must have been twice her height and five times her weight—he had his hands down the front of her shirt, pawing the girl like he was shopping for avocadoes, and Akané was laughing like it was the funniest thing in the world. They left together and a few nights later she came back and she said, ‘His chimpoko[2]was this big!’ Well, I don’t know how the guy could have ever got a cock that big inside her, she’s so tiny.”

. . . and is replaced by chagrin.

“Get this,” Stanley says with a playful grin. “I asked Akané why she keeps sleeping with all these black guys, and you know what she tells me? She whines, ‘How else will I ever forget Peadar?’”



And that, Peadar, was the end of your long-anticipated Summer of Love.

Yeah . . . A week later Haruka returned.


[1]The Crazy Cockwas one of three popular clubs run by an English expat in the late 90s and early “Naughties”. The businesses were eventually sold to others, and while The Happy Cock retained its name for a while, The Crazy Cock located on Oyafukō-dōriis now called Fubar.

[2]Older Japanese slang for “cock”. 

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.


Tell me about Nahoko.

Nahoko was the friend of a friend of a friend, or something like that. A large group of my own friends and hers were out drinking at a gaijinbar when we met. She was only nineteen years old at the time, a college student, but was working part-time as the receptionist at an English conversation school in town. Diminutive, with a peaches and cream complexion, she reminded me somewhat of a purer, younger version of Akané and I couldn’t help being drawn to her. The two of us chatted, she laughed and touched my arm, I took her hand, we leaned into each other, and just as we were about to start kissing, her co-worker, a woman a little older than myself, came to the rescue, saying it was past Nahoko’s bedtime.

And that, was it?

No. Nahoko and I exchanged e-mail addresses and, after mailing each other a few times over the next few days, agreed to go out on a date the following weekend. The problem was, her co-worker insisted upon playing the role of chaperone. Who was I to protest? So, the three of us had dinner together and went to see the movie “Shakespeare in Love”. When the movie ended, I expected “Auntie” to tell me that it was time once again for Nahoko to be going home. To my surprise, however, she bid the two of us a hasty adieu, and split.

Not much of a chaperone, was she?

I suspect that Nahoko had initially requested her co-worker to join us, just to be on the safe side, but now that she was ready to be alone with me had signaled to her friend to make herself scarce.

And now that her friend was gone, you asked Nahoko if she wanted to come back to your place?

Of course, . . . At my apartment, I carried her petite body from the entrance of my apartment straight to the bedroom, lay her gently down on the futon, and in the warm light of a paper lantern undressed her, slowly removing each piece of clothing . . . I’ll never forget her skin—so soft and not a blemish on it. After we made love the first time, Nahoko asked me if she made me feel young. 




“Young?” I reply. “You make me feel reborn.”

And as we are lying side by side, I tell her I have to confess something. She places her hand on my lips and says: “I already know.”

“Who told you?”

“Your friend. He told my coworker, and she . . .”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be.”

“It was never my intention to deceive you.”

“It’s okay,” she replies and then says something that catches me off guard: “I know the Rules of Illicit Love.”



Awfully mature thing for a nineteen-year-old to say.

That’s what I thought. But before I could ask what those rules were, she climbed up on top of me and we started to go at it again, which had a way of pushing all the questions out of my head. By the time I fell asleep, I was convinced that Nahoko and I would be together for months, if not years, and I took much comfort in the idea that even if conjugal bliss eluded me, I would still be able to find affection outside of marriage.

But then you woke up.

Yes, and Nahoko was gone.

Were you surprised?

No. Japanese girls often sneak off once their boyfriends have gone to sleep; they have to hurry home before their parents wake up and realize how late they’ve been out. Akané used to do it all the time. That, at least, is what I had thought Nahoko had done. So, I got up and went to the kitchen to make myself some tea and there on the dining room table I found a letter: “Dear Peadar, I really, really, really like you, but . . . I can’t do this. I’m not strong enough . . .”

Tagged out at home plate.

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.


What did you think your summer would be like with your wife Haruka away?

Frankly speaking, I thought I’d be able to screw as many girls as I liked without the hassle of having to sneak about. Without Haruka around, I would be able to mail women without her looking over my shoulder and go out on dates without having to worry about my cellphone ringing.

You wanted, in essence, to pretend that you were single again.

It is the next best thing to being single.

Why not just get divorced?

Looking back, I probably should have. Many friends told me that it would only get harder to break up the longer I waited, and they were right. Trouble is, I didn’t quite have confidence I would be able to land on my feet. Besides, I needed to focus first and foremost on my career.

And you did that by sleeping with as many girls as you liked?

Yes . . . I mean, no. The women were . . . a distraction.


From the loneliness that was gnawing at me.


I’ve always been a lonely person. Many people think that because I often spend time alone, I’m a loner, but nothing could be further from the truth: I crave to be with people. I don’t necessarily need to be the center of attention, but I do like to be surrounded by people.

Why do you think so?

I think it has something to do with growing up in a large family and being at the bottom of the totem pole, so to speak. I was called the “Baby of the Family” as if I were babied, but the fact of the matter is, the lower you are on that totem pole the less of your parents’ tender loving care you receive. 


Listen: when the first child trips and falls, the parents scoop the child up into their arms and comfort it. The second child gets a hug and some encouragement. The third, a pat on the head. The fourth is told to walk it off. The fifth gets scolded for making so much goddamn noise.

And the sixth?

He’s told he’ll be given something to really cry about if he doesn’t stop crying right this second.

It must be terrible to be the seventh child.

Oh, the seventh child has it easy: the parents are so tired of raising children by then that he usually gets forgotten or neglected. Neglect would have been like a walk in the park on a sunny afternoon compared to what I had to contend with as a child.

Such as?

Older brothers showing their fraternal affection through the administration of the daily Wedgie, Titty-Twister, Wet Willy, and other indignities. So, as a consequence of the mild neglect of my parents and quotidian physical and emotional abuse by siblings I developed this inclination for melancholy and loneliness.

Has sleeping around ever helped?

Helped what?

Tame that gnawing loneliness.

Gabriel García Márquez wrote that . . . 

Gabo again?

He is the Maestro, after all. Gabriel García Márquez wrote that there was no place in life sadder than an empty bed.[1]

Oh? I can think of places that are worse.

A tad hyperbolic, perhaps, but true, nonetheless. My bed today is far from empty—three young boys sleeping between my wife and me, tangled limbs and leaking diapers and I’m constantly rolling over onto Tomica die-cast cars, Legoblocks, and Kamen Riderblasters—and I couldn’t be happier. When my second son woke the other night to find his younger brother sleeping on my chest he cried, “No! No! No! My Daddy! My Daddy!” Now that I think about it, I haven’t felt lonely or sad since I became a father five years ago. Am I tired? Yes. Woozy from sleep deprivation? Yes! But lonely or sad? No, not at all. As for the sleeping around helping, I would have to say, no, it did not help.

I could have told you that, of course, but why do you think it didn’t?

Because what I was really after was not so much the act of making love—I wanted that, yes—but I wanted more: a sense that I was loved, loved for who I was, flaws and all . . . I often joke that what men and women want is usually in conflict: namely, men don’t want their women to change; they want them to remain that adorable little creature they fell in love with. Women, on the other hand, want their men to change, to become better, something worthy of their affection. Trouble is that while women often change, men don’t: they remain the loutish, shiftless drunks that their women could barely stand when they first started dating.

So, how do you think your summer went?

Not quite as planned.

You met up with Xiuying again.

Yes. There’s nothing like hitting a homerun on your first at-bat.

But you struck out.

Funny that.

You had expected otherwise?

I suppose yes, yes, I had.

Let’s see, you dump the girl just when she’s most vulnerable and a year later you think she’ll be eager to jump into the sack with you for nostalgia’s sake?

When you put it like that . . . 

So, you strike out.

Let’s say it didn’t do much for old Peadar’s confidence.

And the girls at the Happy Cock weren’t as enamored of you, either.

It was incredibly frustrating: for all intents and purposes, I was “single” again, but I was having a devil of a time just trying to get girls to give me the time of day.

You strike out again. Has it occurred to you that you might have been trying too hard?

Now it does, yes, but at the time I thought I was being charming.

Oh, that fine line between charm and repugnance.

But, then I met Nahoko.

[1]The original quote is “Ninguin lugar en la vida más triste que una cama vacía.” Another good one from El Coronel ne tiene quién le escribais “No hay medicina que cure lo que no cura la felicidad.” (There is no medicine that cures what happiness cannot.)

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.


Painting by Uemura Shōen (1918)

Painting by Uemura Shōen (1918)

In the spring of ’99, Haruka quit her job, didn’t she?

She did, yes. She told me it was because she had been working non-stop since she graduated from school and now wanted to take it easy. I asked her if I could take it easy, too, but she wasn’t very excited about that idea. The odd thing is—apart from her father dying when she was in high school, which couldn’t have been easy—Haruka had never really had it all that hard.

How so?

Like me, Haruka was born in 1966. According the Chinese calendar, this was a once-in-six decades Year of the Horse, called the Hinoe Uma, or Fire Horse.[1] Superstition had it that people born in this year have “bad personalities” . . .

Those Chinese have certainly got your number!

Listen. The superstition is even less flattering for women born in that year: the Japanese believe that women born in the Year of the Fire Horse are so headstrong that they will end up driving their husbands to an early grave, a concern widespread enough that the birth rate actually plummeted in Japan in 1966.[2] Haruka used to tell me that thanks to the superstition, it was a breeze getting into the schools of her choice. There was never much competition. The same was true when she started job-hunting: no shortage of work for a cute, young woman with big tits. If only I . . .

Had large breasts?

If only I had been a Japanese girl born in 1966. Anyways, whether you want to believe it or not, Haruka fit that stereotypical image of the Fire Horse perfectly—stubborn, overbearing, selfish. I often joked that sooner or later she was going to kill me. So, it wasn’t all that surprising to me that she would one day decide she was going to take it easy and become “a housewife”. What did surprise me, though, was when she told me she was going to visit Mexico.


I had a Mexican friend who was running a small restaurant here in town. Haruka became friends with a woman who was part-timing at the restaurant (and having an affair with my friend, but that’s another story). Well, one thing led to another and Haruka and the woman made plans to travel to Mexico City together.

And Peadar was now entertaining the prospect of being able to spend the start of summer without the Missus.

Yes, well, let’s just say that the idea of my wife retiring no longer sounded all that bad to me. The possibilities were tantalizing. So, I told Haruka if you’re going all the way to Mexico, you might as well go to Portland and visit my family, too. And, if you’re going to go all the way there, you might as well stay for at least a month. After all, there is no better time to be in the city than in the summer . . .

How unselfish of you, Peadar!

Oh, the points I scored with the young housewives I was teaching back then. They would say things like, “My husband would never let me go abroad by myself for so long.” And I would reply, “If I had a wife as pretty as you, I wouldn’t let you go either.”

And, the countdown started: two more months . . . one more month . . . two more weeks . . . ten more days . . . one more week . . . three more days . . . two . . . one . . .

And freedom!

Or so you had hoped.

Yeah. Things often have a way of not going quite as planned.


[1] Hinoe Uma (丙午、ひのえうま). In addition to the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac calendar there are five elements—fire, earth, metal, water, and wood—bringing the total number of years in the Chinese calendar to sixty (12 animals x 5 elements = 60 years). Those of you familiar with Asian cultures may have heard that the sixtieth birthday is a special one. It signifies the completion of the cycle and a rebirth of sorts. In Japan, where babies are called akachan (赤ちゃん, lit. “Little Red”), those who become sixty are usually presented with something red.

In the 20th century, 1906 and 1966 were Hinoe-Uma years. According to the theory of Yin-Yang and the five elements, Hinoe and Uma are characterized as being on the Yin side of Fire. It was commonly believed that more fires occurred in those years than in other years. There was also a widespread belief that women born in Hinoe Uma year were unyielding, and henpecked their husbands to death.

[2] The number of births dropped some 25% in 1966. The figure was so low that it was not matched again until 1989 when the effects of Japan’s dwindling birthrate started to be felt. 50.9% of the children born in 1966 were, like Haruka, the first son or daughter, the highest rate ever.


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.


There’s a song called “End of the Century” by the British alternative rock band Blur. The lyrics go something like . . .

“Sex on the TV, everybody’s at it, and the mind gets dirty, as you get closer . . . to thirty . . .”

Right. And, there I was thirty-two years old with so much desire in my randy “young” heart I was practically bouncing off the walls.

Do you really think it was only a question of your age?

No . . . Yes . . . No . . . Now, I’m well aware that passion never lasts. It’s impossible to maintain it. Japanese novelist Endō Shūsaku[1] wrote that stability spells the death of passion; that the longer a couple is together the more stable and, as a result, boring their relationship will inevitably grow. It can’t be helped. But, at the same time I believe there has got to be some passion at the start of a relationship. Too hot and it will burn itself out before you know it. But, if it is just bright and hot enough, there will always be an ember of it warming your hearts, no matter how long you’re together. You’ll never forget that there was a time when the two of you couldn’t get enough of each other, when you had to be touching and holding and caressing each other. You would walk, not only hand in hand, but sometimes with your hands in each other’s rear pockets, kneading the buttocks like bread dough. You would make love all night long, sleeping briefly, only to make love again in the morning. You would make love while brushing your teeth if inspiration called for it. You would fall asleep in each other’s arms, and note that you seemed to fit—both physically, emotionally, and fatefully—together, like twins in the womb. Well, I’m afraid Haruka and I never had anything like that.

And now you were longing to be “in love”.

To be loved.

Haruka didn’t love you?

She may have believed that she loved me, but Haruka’s was a perverse kind of loving: expressed primarily through grousing, grumbling, griping, grouching . . .Listen: we often had parties, Haruka and I. We were big entertainers in the early days, I would cook, she would pour wine and chat up the guests. The most entertaining part of those parties, however, was our petty quarrels. People would say things like, only couples who really love each other fight like that. But, the truth is, I was awfully depressed at the time.

And then you started drinking more.

I always drank a lot, but now I was drinking every day, getting really blasted, anything to keep me from . . . I don’t know . . . feeling? It was then that I started hanging out with other foreigners.

You hadn’t before?

In my first year in Japan, I had a circle of friends, but most of them returned to their home countries after their contracts were up. Glutton for punishment as I was, I stayed on. Over the next three or four years, I was pretty much a loner. Not so much by design as by lack of choice. It wasn’t until the Internet became popular that I was able to meet people. I belonged to an online community that had offline meetings every now and then, and I was able to become friends with a number of fellow expats. Most were single and horny and would hang out at a gaijin bar called “Happy Cock” on the weekends. I would join them, and for a time there, I was “pulling chicks”, as those guys liked to say, pretty much every time I went out.

Peadar must have had the happiest cock of all.

Yes and no. It was nice being fawned over by young, albeit drunk, women, but I was still desperately lonely.

[1] Endō Shūsaku was a 20th-century Japanese author noted for writing from the perspective of being both Japanese and Catholic. Along with Junnosuke Yoshiyuki, Shōtarō Yasuoka, Junzo Shono, Hiroyuki Agawa, Ayako Sono, and Shumon Miura, Endō is categorized as one of the “Third Generation”, the third major group of writers who came to prominence after World War II.

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.


On the morning of New Year’s Day 1997, Akané came to your apartment wearing a stunning furi-sodé kimono.[1] It had a deep purple background, so deep in color it was almost black, but the long sleeves and the bottom half were emblazoned with colorful dahlias, her favorite flower. Around her waist was a wide obi of gold silk.

I’ll never forget how she looked that day. Her hair done up with lovely accessories called kanzashi. She looked just like a maiko.[2] She was terribly pretty.

You went to Hakozaki-gū Shrine together, where you would end up praying for quite different things: you, for your future success.

And Akané?

Akané prayed for happiness, of course. Happiness with you, Peadar, which meant marriage, kids, a house, a dog, the whole kit and caboodle. And were those prayers answered?

Er, no.

And when the two of you returned to your apartment, you “unwrapped” Akané.

She had so many layers on. First, I untied the obi-jimé, a crimson red rope made of silk that was holding everything in place. Then, I unraveled the long gold obi, pulling on it as Akané spun around, giggling, in front of me. There was an obi-agé, also crimson in color, just below that which I undid. The kimono came loose and opened it up to reveal two more layers of undergarments called juban held in place by more sashes. And when I opened up the last layer, I discovered that she was completely naked underneath. No bra or panties. That was such a turn on seeing her naked body lying above all those colorful garments, sashes, and silk ropes.

And you made love to her for the rest of the day and night.

It was one of the few times when Akané didn’t have to scurry away before her carriage turned back into a pumpkin.

Akané’s mother was finally ready to trust you, so convinced that the two of you would eventually marry. She had even spoken to her husband to warn him of what was coming. And rather than fly off the handle as the typical Japanese father might when confronted with the possibility of his daughter marrying a gaijin, do you know what he said to his wife?

I have no idea.

He said, “They’ll have the cutest children!”

Huh . . . I had no idea.

There’s a lot you don’t know, Peadar.

Do I want to know?

Probably not, but you should.


[1] Furi-sodé (振袖) is a long-sleeved kimono worn by unmarried women on ceremonial occasions, such as Coming-of-Age Day, New Year’s Day, graduation ceremonies and weddings.

[2] A maiko (舞子) is a young dancing girl working in the o-chaya (お茶屋, lit. “tea house”) of Kyōto.


And did you make the right choice?

The right choice would have been not getting back together with either of them in the first place.

That’s what I would have told you. But, as I have said before, you probably would not have listened anyways. In the end, you have to lie in the bed you have made. So, Peadar, why did you choose Haruka?

A better question to ask would be: why did I not choose Akané.

Yes, why not Akané? You loved her. And, she adored you.

She did, yes.

Hurts to think about it, doesn’t it, Peadar?

Yeah . . . You know, it used to baffle me how ugly some of the wives of the more established Japanese men could be.

Ugly? That’s awfully severe.

Homely, then. Homely and frightfully dowdy. The wives of doctors, university professors, executives, and successful lawyers here in Japan are often . . . well, dogs. In the States, the trophy wife is so commonplace—you know, successful men marrying beautiful women—that the well-to-do end up having children that have a highly-burnished look. Not always, of course, but often. After several generations of this virtuous cycle, the result is a class of attractive people, exuding wealth and confidence. Not so in Japan. The men—or, more accurately, their parents—are so concerned that a bimbo will disgrace the family name that the men often end up marrying the type who won’t ever win a beauty pageant, but who won’t embarrass the family, either. There’s a saying in Japanese: bijin wa akiru, busu wa nareru.[1]

Which means?

“When it comes to women, you’ll eventually get bored with a beauty and used to a dog.”

Those enigmatic Japanese . . . So, you went for homely, then?

Haruka was not homely. She just wasn’t a head-turner. But . . .

She wouldn’t embarrass you.

She was from a middle-class background. By no means rich, but she had been raised and educated well enough that she knew how to speak to people. Actually, she was very good with people. Extremely good. She could have a conversation with just about anyone and the person would leave with a favorable impression of her. It never ceased to amaze me how easy it was for her to make friends.

And Akané?

I think men liked her. She was young, cute, full of energy, compulsive. What was there not to like? Women, unfortunately, thought she was a bimbo. I had been in Japan long enough by then to worry about what people thought about me.

Better late than never.

Yeah, well . . . I didn’t want people talking behind my back, saying things like, “That Peadar is awfully nice, but his wife . . . oh, dear! What was he thinking marrying a floozy like that?”

So, that’s why you dumped the poor girl?

It wasn’t only that. There was the question of her family, too.

Her family?

I met Akané’s “sister”. I don’t remember what the exact relationship was—her mother’s younger sister, or perhaps an older cousin. At any rate, she always called this woman “big sis”[2] and would sometimes invite her out on dates with us. Big sis was in her mid-to-late thirties, very tall and slim. Akané told me she had once been a model and it was easy to see why. The funny thing, though, was that Akané, as small and petite as she was, nevertheless tried her damnedest to emulate that big sis of hers, imitating the way she dressed and kept her hair, smoking the same KOOL menthols the woman smoked, and so on. Big sis, however, was no fan of yours truly.


The woman came off as jaded. She’d probably had her own share of gaijin boyfriends over the years and didn’t trust me. At least, that’s how I felt around her. The thought of having this woman in my life, glowering at me for years on end, was a real turn off. Haruka’s younger sister, on the other hand, was rather sweet, demure . . .

You met with both their families?

No, no, no. You should understand that in Japan you normally don’t do such a thing until you’re absolutely committed to getting married. You meet surrogates, instead. Friends, first. Then, maybe a sibling or two. And once you’ve cleared those hurdles and you’re ready to do the formal engagement ceremony you meet with the parents. I wouldn’t meet with Haruka’s mother until less than a month or so before we got married.

Not her father?

Haruka’s father had been dead for about ten years by then.

What is it, Peadar, about you and women with dead or absentee fathers?

I do not know. Mié’s father had also died when she was young.

Yes, I remember. What about Akané’s father?

That was the thing: he was a taxi driver.

You dumped Akané because her father was a taxi driver?

No, no, no. I’m sure taxi drivers are fine people. It was just one more thing. As much as I liked . . . even “loved” Akané, I just couldn’t picture myself marrying her and being part of that world.

You could have always left Japan. It wouldn’t have mattered then what her background was.

True. But then, I wasn’t planning on leaving Japan anytime soon.


[1] 美人は飽きる、ブスは慣れる (Bijin-wa akiru, busu-wa nareru.)

[2] お姉さん (o-nē-san) is what most Japanese call their elder or oldest sister, but the term of endearment can also be used for any woman who is not yet old enough to be called an oba-san (小母さん), an “auntie”.


Not long after you got back together with Akané, you started dating Haruka again, didn’t you?

I did, yes.

So, could you tell me what that was all about, Peadar?

Haruka wrote me a beautiful, heartfelt letter.

A letter? Oh, that’s right, this was way back in the Nineties. An age when the coke-fired blast furnace and steam engine held great promise for the future of industry . . .

May I continue?

By all means.

After Haruka and I had broken up, she traveled to the U.S. with a friend of hers—this was the same friend, mind you, who had at the very beginning asked me what I thought about Haruka, the one who had encouraged us to go out on that first date. That friend would get married to an American, by and by, and move to Texas with him where they would start a family.

That’s nice.

It is. It is. They’re still married today and have something like five children.


So, I agreed to meet Haruka. And when we got together I found her to be so sincere in her . . . I don’t know what to call it. “Love” seems too strong a word; “admiration”, too controlled . . .

Her “feelings”?

Yeah . . . Haruka was so sincere in her feelings for me that I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it was over.

How considerate of you, Peadar.

Well, that “consideration” had me dating the two of them for the next twelve months.

How do you think you managed not to get caught again?

I was more careful . . . Busier, too.


I had decided to enroll in the graduate program at Geikōdai, Kyūshū University’s School of Design, and was busy preparing for the entrance exam which was held the following winter. The two of them respected that and gave me the space I needed.

Well, wasn’t that convenient?


Early the next morning while I was still asleep, the phone rang. It was Akané, of course.

She was sobbing into the receiver. After a moment, she asked if you were alone.

I said that I was.

At which point she really started to bawl. How did you feel then, Peadar?

I don’t know, it’s been so . . .

Like an arse?

Yeah, I felt like an arse.

So, what were you going to do about it?

I don’t know. Explain myself, I suppose.

Explain yourself?

I thought that if Akané understood that Haruka was the one I was cheating on, not the other way around, she . . .

But before you could “explain yourself”, she told you about how she had spent the night.


After calling you the night before, she went straight to a “gaijin bar”[1] where she hooked up with the first big black man she could find, a sailor up from Sasebo,[2] went back to his hotel and, well, you know what. All night long. And when she told you that, what did you do?

I hung up the phone.


I was angry. But, mostly sad. I was appalled, too, by what she did.

Appalled? How could you ever be appalled? Isn’t what Akané did the very same thing you had done?


When you suspected Haruka of seeing someone else, what did you do?

I . . . I . . .

You went to Akané’s boutique, asked her out, and . . .

That was different!

Was it now? As they say, what’s good for the goose is good for the . . .

Oh, fuck off!

Oh, how I sometimes wish I could, Peadar.

It broke my heart that Akané would do something like that.

And how do you think Akané felt?

Well, obviously, she was upset, but, man, why did she have to do that?

Would you have felt differently if she hadn’t slept with a black man? Is that what you’re saying?

I . . . no, no, no . . . it’s not . . . It’s just that . . . Oh, I don’t know. Hey, I’m no racist!

Why, some of your best friends are black.

I didn’t say that!

You were going to.

Oh, shuddup!

So, did you think it was over between the two of you?

That morning? Yes, I did. It was awfully depressing, to tell you the truth. I felt like I was back at square one. Tatami returned to Japan a few weeks later and we slept with each other a couple of times, which quickly grew old. I really had no interest in getting back together with her. None whatsoever. Tatami, by the way, had some adventures of her own while she was in England; even got knocked up by a married man. She had an abortion, of course.

Oh, but of course . . .

Anyways, Tatami and I were never right for each other and it seemed that while she was away she came to understand that.

Better late than never.

I thought about trying to meet someone new, but there really weren’t any attractive “bachelorettes” around me at the time. And the thought of going through dating hell all over again filled me with dread.[3]

Oh, the memories!

I often thought of Akané during this time, the fun we had, the laughs, the wild love we would make. And as the weeks passed I grew to forgive her . . .

You forgave her! Ha! How magnanimous we had become, Peadar!

Sorry, poor choice of words. I came to “understand” her, what she had done, what she was feeling. I wanted to give her, us, myself, another chance.


So, I went by her work, but she wasn’t there.

Actually, she was hiding in the back.

Was she? Well, I left her a small note, anyways: “Sorry for being selfish. I miss you. Call me.” That sort of thing.

Always the romantic.

It may not have been the most romantic thing, but it worked. A few days later, she did call, and was crying. I cried, too. I told her I wanted to see her and she came over right away. And that night, as we made love, she cried and cried and cried, salty tears streaming down her cheeks.

And the two of you lived happily ever after.

That may have been possible, I suppose, had I never gone back to Akané. She might have eventually found someone who really loved her, someone who would have asked for her hand in marriage, given her kids, and grown old with her.

Why couldn’t that person have been you?

Because, although I really cared about Akané, I no longer trusted her. I mean: was she going to resort to screwing the first gaijin she found every time I did something the least bit suspicious? And did I really want to marry someone who had been so easy to shag the first time?

Do you really think it was so easy?

Let’s see, I take her to the movies, ply her with a few drinks, and take her home. And, the next thing I know, we’re having sex on my sofa. Now, I’m not that good-looking. So, yes, I do think it, she, was easy.

What would you say if I told you that that hadn’t been your first time together?

Whaddaya getting at?

Peadar, do you remember asking me earlier to give you a hint?

Y-yes . . .

Well, here’s your hint: Nyao!

Nyao? What kind of hint is that?


Nyao . . . nyao . . . nyao . . . Meow! What the . . .? Nekko-chan? Akané was Nekko-chan??


Go away!

[1] “Gaijin bar” (外人バー) is a generic term for any bar in Japan that attracts a large number of foreign (non-Japanese) customers. Many of these bars are run or managed by foreigners.

[2] Sasebo (佐世保), a small city in Nagasaki prefecture, is home to the U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo Naval base.

[3] For more on this, read A Woman’s Nails by Aonghas Crowe.

[4] Nekko-chan is a minor character in the novel A Woman’s Nails.


I had been with Akané for a while . . .

It was 6 months to the day.

Really? All I remember is that we had grown quite close by then. I thought about Akané often—would get that funny feeling in my gut and all, something which hadn’t happened since Mié. I realized it was getting high time to let Haruka go.

High time, Peadar! That’s rich.

Yes, well . . . eh, hem . . . Haruka and I had our fun together—even traveled to Tokyo Disneyland for New Year’s. But, while I liked Haruka, I had never really been head-over-heels in love with her. It’s just . . .

Just what?

When you’ve been dumped yourself, and know how much it hurts, it’s not easy to do it to another person, especially someone you care about. I may not be the nicest person, but I’m not mean. I was hoping that our spending less and less time with each other . . .

Would lead to a natural end of the relationship.

It happens . . . And so, one night when Haruka was at my place, Akané called me up. I had always been careful to turn the sound of the phone off when I had either of them over to avoid this exact situation. But, for one reason or another, I had forgotten.

Akané had just gotten off work and was hoping to surprise you.

She surprised me, alright. The phone rang and my first reaction was to ignore it, just let it ring. But that would have looked suspicious.

So, you answered the phone and heard Akané’s voice.

And she said something like, “I got off early today, can I come . . .” And just then Haruka, who was in the kitchen, started chopping onions . . . LOUDLY. Akané could hear the sound of the knife on the chopping board—how could she not? It was like a cannon being fired—and she went berserk: “What’s that noise?!?! Who’s there?!?! Who are you with?!?!” Akané had become so agitated and was now yelling into the phone. Haruka could hear everything.

And the jig, as they say, was up, Peadar.

The jig was up, indeed. I hung up the phone, plunked myself down on the sofa, and sighed heavily. Haruka came over and sat down beside me.

How did she take it?

She was remarkably calm. I had to make a choice, she said. Would it be her or “that stupid bitch”.


I was tired of sneaking around, tired of having to worry that one of them might come unannounced when the other was there.

Or call.

Or call, yes. I was tired of cleaning up after Akané left, searching for her long black hairs in my sofa and bed. And having to do the same with Haruka’s short brown hairs. I hated having to worry about what alibis I would use when the next national holiday came up. So, when Haruka asked me to choose between her and “that stupid bitch”, I answered: “I don’t want to be with either of you.” And Haruka said, “I understand.” She packed up her things and quietly left. It was all rather unexpected.

But not nearly as unexpected as what Akané would end up doing.