You know that staple episode of every crappy sitcom ever, where a second-tier character gets a great deal on an apartment, and then the main character(s) go to visit him and find out that the reason for the low price is that there’s some horrible problem with it? Well, that’s kinda how my room is, except that nobody comes to visit me and there’s no laugh track to acknowledge all the funny things I say… to myself.
See, I live on the forth floor of a filthy old building that happens to be built next to a major highway. And not only am I next to the highway, the highway is built several dozen meters above ground, so that it’s kinda floating right outside my window. So morning or night, headphones or no, I constantly hear the roaring of tiny Japanese trucks and the pathetic attempts of Japanese singers to replicate the crappiness of American “rap” music blaring from idiots’ speakers.
Overflowing with high-spirited thankfulness to my Lord Jesus Christ for giving the heathen Japanese a week-long holiday from work for the New Year, I decided to go out this Christmas and try to find the one commodity I had most taken for granted back in the pastures of West Texas: peace and quiet.
My first stop (on the way to the station) was to the local hyper-conglomerate supermarket/department store. I wanted to buy a box of condoms, based on my assumption that Santa had screwed me over for so many years in a row now that I was due for something special this year. But first I needed a candy fix. I knew the white Kit-Kats were hiding somewhere on the candy isle, and as I searched, I noticed the commercial playing on a TV behind me.
“Meiji milk and what?”
“Meiji milk and…?”
“Meiji milk and…”
“No, time up!”
[And the ending, sung by disembodied, two-frame twitching heads of celebrities…] “Me-i-ji! Mi-ru-ku and Co-ffee!”
This 10 second wad of annoyance was bad enough once, but as soon as it finished it started again. And again, and again, and again. After about 10 times, I let out a crooked laughed, and looked around me to see if anyone else got what was funny. But no, everyone else seemed oblivious to what would have probably driven me crazy in only a few minutes. And a closer look at the screen confirmed what I had suspected—it was not digital, but a VHS tape intentionally recorded to play the same thing again and again.
I also noticed that each section of the supermarket had its own short, looping, loud tape that was still not quite loud enough to drown out the pre-taped announcer shouting meaningless slogans of thanks from overhead. The best example was a couple of no-name comedians screaming an unfunny-to-begin-with, single-word pun (a word that can mean both “I just gotta have it” and “it doesn’t make you fat” at the same time—go figure) at one another literally seven times in a row. Wait, make that 14, 21, or 700 times, depending on how long you stand in the isle. Sheesh!
Next, I made my way up to the drug corner, which necessitated a walk past the Disney store, where my ears were in for another beating. If you can imagine “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” re-written by the inhuman monster who concocted Donkey Kong’s “Monkey Rap” and sung by a Japanese cover band of those “Carmen Sandiego” assholes singing in English with accents not noticeable to Japanese, but clear to native English speakers, then… well, then you can imagine the song I’m talking about. With gravelly-voiced “black” people in the background providing “Santa is the king! (Ooh!), Santa is come-ing (Oh yeah!)” interspersed with the verse lines, it truly was one of the most aurally offensive things I’ve ever experienced.
And of course I can never get within 100 meters of the train without hearing the rich old housewives with no lives shouting “America has tricked us into going to war! We cannot allow the government to continue down this path,” and other dumb slogans through bullhorns.
You’d think my beloved Karaoke booth would offer some refuge from all the noise, but alas—the soundproofing is only good enough to keep the sound from the other rooms from overcoming your speakers, and useless if you aren’t singing yourself.
At last, I gave up and decided to go shopping for some foam earplugs with which to commit a sort of temporary aural suicide. But ironically, I couldn’t make it to my purchase through all the screaming. You see, when you go shopping in Japan, every shop you walk by has a cute girl standing at the entrance literally screaming in an offensive nasal voice. If you’ve ever heard J-Pop, you know the voice I’m talking about. Now generally when I see a cute Japanese girl I lustfully fantasize about saving her from a dragon, ripping her clothes off and throwing her onto a bed, but these ear-puncturing Sirens destroy all of my senses—from ears to balls—and force me to lope frantically towards open air. So no earplugs, no DVDs, no Christmas cake…. No, at the end of my Japanese Christmas, all I could think about was rushing home to my one room apartment to listen to the mildly aggravating roar of automobiles: the closest thing to silence I can afford…
PS: I actually had time to sit down with games for the first time in forever this holiday, and let me tell you: If you’ve never played Killer 7, go out and buy it right now. If you’re reading this sentence, you didn’t go fast enough.
And so, in the name of our Holy Savior and His unlikely birth, I give you this month’s…
What I like about this place is that there are no limits…