Shortly after Kei had told me how irresistible she was finding men now that she was going to get married, we went out for dinner and drinks. 

Just the two of you?

No, we went with some friends. As was par for those days, dinner was followed by karaoke. After belting out tunes for two hours, one by one the others started to leave, hurrying off to catch the final train or bus home. Before long, it was just the two of us, Kei and me. We had been sitting opposite each other in the “karaoke box” the whole time, so when we were finally alone I told her that it would make me terribly happy if she would take the seat next to mine. To my surprise, she not only sat down next to me, but snuggled up to me and took my hand.  

“How soon till you get married,” I ask.

“Two more months.”

“Have you been a good girl?”

She shakes her head no, admitting that there’s a doctor she’s been seeing.

“I guess it can’t be helped,” I say. “Better to get your ya-yas out before you get married rather than later . . .”

“Is that what you did?”

“No and I’ve still got plenty of ya-yas to go around . . . God, you smell lovely.”


I put my arm around Kei and, with my nose and mouth almost touching the nape of her neck, inhale deeply. It’s such a fresh smell. So clean.

“I don’t think I have ever been with a woman who smelled as pretty as you,” I say.

“Are you trying to hit on me?”

“No,” I reply, kissing on the neck. “You’rethe one who’s been hitting on me.”

She takes my hand and raises it to her mouth and with a light-hearted laugh kisses it. She turns and brings her lips to mine.

We will end up half naked in that karaoke box, but “consummation” of the relationship won’t happen for another three weeks.

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.


Why did you end up two-timing, Peadar?

After Mié dumped me . . .

Mié, again?

Would you let me continue? After Mié left me, I went through six months without a girl. And the longer I went, the more desperate I got. My standards plummeted.

A vicious cycle.

A “Bitch-ious” cycle’s more like it. One thing I learned then was that it was much easier to find someone new, someone better when you were already with someone. And so, my relationship with Tatami, morphed into a relationship with . . .


No, I was seeing another woman on the side.


Sorry, but that’s the way it was. Anyways, that relationship, or should I say those relationships, blended into the relationship that developed with Haruka.

And your affair with Akané?

I intended to eventually leave Haruka for Akané once I was sure that Akané was the one I wanted to be with.

Eventually? You dated the two of them simultaneously for quite some time.

That hadn’t been the plan.

What was “the plan”, Peadar?

I was going to dial down the relationship with Haruka and dial up the . . . I know how it must sound.

Do you now? So, did you “dial down” your relationship with Haruka?

A bit, yes. We would see each other only about once every one or two weeks, usually on the weekend. With Akané, it was more like once or twice a week. But, because of the nature of Akané’s work—she usually had weekdays off—we would meet during my afternoon breaks, on weeknights, occasionally on a weekend. I was definitely spending more time with Akané. And, to be quite honest, I was happier with her than I had been with another woman in a long time. For once, I wasn’t looking back. I wasn’t preoccupied by “what ifs”, anymore.

So, what went wrong?


After looking at the clothes for a few minutes I finally get up the nerve to ask Akané out: “I’m, uh, going to the, um, movies later. Would you like to join me?”

She replies with an emphatic “Yes!”



You were expecting her to say “No”?

I don’t know. Everything was so easy with Akané. Movies? Yes! How about a drink or two afterwards? Yes! Would you like to come back to my place? Yes! Sex? Yes! Yes! Yes!

At your place, you undressed her.

She didn’t put up a fight—none of that damé-damé[1] nonsense—and we made love . . .

You made love?

Okay, we screwed like alley cats on that old green sofa of mine.

You just laughed. Care to share with us what is so humorous?

Two things, actually.


One, if sofas could talk . . .


You had to ask.

And the other?

Akané was so small, so petite. It was like . . .

I know where you’re going with this and, let me tell you, it’s only slightly less disgusting than what you said about the sofa.

Whatever. I found that “aspect” of her, Akané’s “youth” if you will, very attractive.

She was young, Peadar. Only twenty. Nine years younger than yourself, if I’m not mistaken.

That’s right. Akané was nine years younger than me. Haruka, though, was the same age as me. And Tatami and Reina were a year or two older than me, so it’s not like I’m some lolicon[2] creep.

No one is saying you are.


[1] Literally, “No, no!”

[2] Lolicon, or lolikon (ロリコン), which is a portmanteau of “Lolita complex”, is used in Japan to describe men who are attracted to young women.


When you entered the shop, you were hesitant. Bashful, even.

I tiptoed in, not knowing what to expect.


Oh, I knew what I wanted alright. It’s just that I didn’t think I would get it.

Well, she found that shyness charming. It was so different from the men she had known until then. Might I add, disarmingly so. You pretended to look through the racks. It was a brand you had probably never heard of before.

I hadn’t. And, it didn’t really excite the compulsive shopper in me.

And she said, “If you see anything you like, just tell me. Feel free to try anything on.”

The standard boutique chit-chat. I almost said to her, “I like what I see now.”

You’re lucky you didn’t.


You would have broken the Spell of Misperceived Impressions.

The wha’ o’ what?

The Spell of Misperceived Impressions.


Listen: impressions influence how people see reality. They may not be accurate, but they will shape how someone sees you and interprets everything that you do. Akané saw you as shy, bookish, serious. All the things her past boyfriends were not. Haruka, on the other hand, thought you were an “elite salaryman” when she first saw you in the club wearing a new suit. Even when she learned that you were just a teacher, she still perceived you as a go-getter, a man with a bright future, someone who was going places. You laugh, but when a woman discovers that her impression of the man she’s dating has been utterly wrong, it can be devastating for her. She may even feel that she’s been betrayed, lied to. This is why Yumi found you to be such a loathsome scoundrel after fawning over you for so many months.

Ugh, must you bring that woman up?

Yes, I must. A woman risks a lot when she dates a new man, Peadar. Her future will be bound, more or less, to the fortunes of the man she ends up settling with. That’s why so many women want to marry up, to marry a man who has a better education, a better job with a higher salary, a man who comes from a better family. That family, after all, will become hers, that job and salary will eventually be supporting both her and her children. Whenever a woman lies down with a man, it is as if she is placing all of her chips on the table. She’s betting her life without quite knowing the hand she’s been dealt.


Haruka would do something that drove me up the wall.

Which was?

She would go off the radar for days on end. Now, I’m not the jealous, clingy type—I understand that people need their space—but if a woman promised to meet me or call me, well, I would expect her to keep her word. Haruka, though, she kept leaving me hanging, waiting for her to call.

You could have always contacted Haruka . . .

No, no, no. Haruka was living at home with her family. I couldn’t just call her up anytime I liked—Japanese parents can be overly protective—and I didn’t dare call her up at work. You just don’t do that in Japan unless you want to embarrass someone or get them fired. No, all I could do was wait at home until her Highness deigned to grace me with an audience. Sometimes a whole week would go by and nothing. And then one Friday night after we had been dating for a few months, Haruka stood me up one time too many. As a very last resort, I tried her at home only to get her sister who said she didn’t know where Haruka was or when she would return. I should explain that although Haruka wasn’t what you would call a bombshell, she was still wildly popular with men. The power of cleavage, I suppose. She once said there hadn’t been a time in her life since junior high school when she wasn’t dating someone.

So, what did you think she was doing?

I figured she was out with another man. She had said something a month or so earlier about having to collect her things from her ex-boyfriend’s apartment. Perhaps, they had gotten back together? The guy was apparently very rich, drove a Ferrari in a country where you didn’t see many conspicuous sports cars.[1] You know what I was driving then?

No, what?

A rusty old bicycle I had liberated from the station one drunken night.

And it was around this time that you went by Akané’s workplace?

It was the very next day, actually. In the afternoon.

Akané was surprised to see you. Happy, but surprised. She could tell that you hadn’t quite remembered who she was when she had bumped into you, and, to be honest, she was relieved.

Relieved? Why do you say that?

You really don’t remember, do you? I find it hard to believe that after all these years you still aren’t able to put two and two together.

Could you give me a hint?

Maybe later.


[1] Times have certainly changed in this regard. 


You met Haruka at a bar.

A nightclub, actually, in Nakasu of all places. When I would tell people that I had met my girlfriend in Nakasu, most assumed that she was a hostess.

But she wasn’t.

No, Haruka was what the Japanese call an O.L., an “office lady”, with a major apparel maker. The night we first met, she had been out drinking with co-workers. I myself had been knocking back overpriced whiskey-and-waters at a “snack”, a hostess bar, earlier in the evening when another customer suggested we go clubbing.


“Sure, why not?” I say, finishing my drink.


You laughed.

Yeah. It just occurred to me that none of this would have ever happened if only I had declined the guy’s offer. Where on this planet of ours would I be today? What would I be doing? And who would I be with?

It’s hard to say. Fate can be a fickle little devil.

At any rate, I know where I was that night, what I was doing, and who I was with.


I’m here at Keith Flack for no more than fifteen or twenty minutes when a cute young woman only eighteen or nineteen years of age walks up to me and says: “You live in Aratō, don’t you?”

“I do, yes.”

“That’s what I thought,” she says. “Me, too. I often see you in the morning.”


“Would you like to join us?”

By “us” she means a group of women, including Haruka, who are sitting on the other side of the room.



That was certainly easy.

It certainly was.

So, you ended up drinking together and . . .

You must remember that this was back in the mid-nineties. It was still early days for the Internet; hardly anyone had cellphones, let alone an e-mail address. There was no such thing as Facebook or Mixi[1] or Twitter or Instagram or . . .


So, nothing happened. After a while, Haruka and her co-workers stood up and said, “Well, we’ve had fun, but . . . you know, last train. Good night.”

Fortunately, Fukuoka is a small town.

More so than I could appreciate at the time.

A few days later, you went downtown, into Tenjin[2] . . .

It was in the middle of the Golden Week holiday[3] and I was heading for the station—I was going to visit a friend living in Kumamoto City—and who of all people should I happen to bump into, but Haruka.

The two of you couldn’t have helped appreciating the serendipity of it all. What do the Japanese call that, again?


That’s right, gūzen. A million plus people in the city and here you are bumping into each other twice in one week.


So, did you get her phone number then?

No, I didn’t. I had been more interested in her younger co-worker, actually. You know, the one who had come up and talked to me in the first place. But Haruka and I chatted for a few minutes and she asked if I often went to Keith Flack and . . .

You said, “Almost every Saturday” even though you had never been there before.

Yeah. Funny that.

You went to the club every Saturday after that, though, didn’t you, Peadar?

I did, yes. I’d never been into “the club scene”, but that was where the girls seemed to be. And they weren’t shy. So, . . .

Those were the days, weren’t they? You just sniggered. Would you like to count me in on the little joke?

Life’s funny is all. You happen to go to a club one night and meet someone who will play a major role in the next ten years of your life. A few months later, you’re waiting for that person on a street corner and you end up meeting another person and playing a major, if not fateful, role in that person’s life.



I’m at the club a few weeks later when a friend of Haruka’s, a girl I’ve never seen before, taps me on the shoulder and, without introduction or formality, shoots me the question: “So, what do you think of Haruka?”

Slightly flustered, I reply that Haruka seems like a “nice” girl . . .

It’s not that Haruka is a knockout—far from it—but she does have a cute face, a friendly smile, warm eyes, and the hint of something substantial under her blouse . . .

“So, why don’t you go and talk to her?” she says, taking me by the hand and pulling me in the direction of Haruka. “The only reason she came here tonight was to meet you.”



That surprised me.

Why should it have?

Like I said, it was a low water mark in my life. I didn’t have a hell of a lot of confidence.

And so, you sat down with Haruka and talked.

I did. We ended up having a rather nice conversation, talking about everything and nothing, and before I knew it, two hours had passed.

Did you take her home?

No, no, no. At that point, I still wasn’t all that interested in her as a potential girlfriend. I think that if I had been, I would have blown it. I mean, women can smell it when a man is desperate. A married man will always be infinitely more attractive to women than a man who’s never been laid.

It’s the way they are wired.

Faulty wiring then.



[1] Mixi, founded in 2004, was once the leading social networking site in Japan. It had about 80% of the market in Japan until smart phones became ubiquitous and people switched to other sites, such as Facebook, Line, Twitter, and so on.

[2] Tenjin (天神) is Fukuoka City’s main shopping area and de facto downtown.

[3] Golden Week is a string of public holidays, starting with Shōwa Day (昭和の日) on April 29th and ending on May 5th, or Children’s Day (こどもの日).

[4] Gūzen (偶然) means “accident, chance, coincidence”.