Allow me to remind you, again, that I am a comprehensively wholesome and unremittingly respectable person. If you met me elsewhere you would not hesitate to nominate me even for the post of children's librarian. Departing from my dignified presence, you might very well unbutton your top button and breathe a little easier. You might be tempted to use the word stodgy. You wouldn't do so, of course -- I am so obviously well-meaning. Anywhere else in the world I am wholesome to the point of near total indigestibility. Only in Tokyo am I forced, due to the merciless vicissitudes of circumstance, to become hyper-zealous in the practice of vice.
How else to meet people?
How many times have I, upon greeting someone with painstaking courtesy, been viewed with the utmost suspicion, even fear?
Whereas if I lurch toward that same person while reeking of alcohol and sweaty mammalian essences, making known my intention, by means of grunts and gestures, to sodomize them in a manner not generally considered considerate -- oh how cordially I am then received!
I fear that prospective visitors and residents of Tokyo will be put off by the previous description. Therefore I hasten to assure you that, fear not, there is another social option.
You can join a club.
Flower arranging is popular, as is the painting of miniatures on porcelain. You can learn how to participate in the chorus of a noh drama -- though it seems to me the hula people are having a much better time. Group lessons in countless foreign languages are available and interested parties may sign up without fear. Even if you participate in such a group for forty years, there will be no alteration of your language skill whatsoever.
Nostalgic for virtue, I myself joined a club. I am a member of the Tokyo Subcommittee for Hopeless Causes, or TSHC. We at the TSHC are exuberantly in favor of anything which is obviously doomed.
Literature and ecology feature prominently, of course. Though we also have a soft spot for avant-garde music, third party candidates, and old-fashioned courtesy.
Just as the wise allow that every phenomenon must also contain its opposite and make allowance for it, the great city of Tokyo has, in its infinite magnanimity, reserved for us at the TSHC, the most ideal meeting space imaginable.
Our bright and airy room faces directly upon a roller coaster so that, during the warmer months, we are constantly serenaded by the terrified screams of youth as they plunge.
Naturally the competition to become a member of the TSHC is gruelingly intense. Eminent personalities, garlanded with worldly honors, plead for admission -- and are swiftly disqualified.
Because, if you want to become a member of the TSHC, it is not enough to be an ardent proponent of hopeless causes. One must be, oneself, a hopeless cause.
Few are so dedicated or so daring. One's near-total unprofitability must be documented. Success of any kind is prohibited. Even optimism is frowned upon. Romances are permitted, but they must end within 120 days in scenes of sprawling humiliation.
Books may be written, even published, but they may have no more than 6 readers for each year of effort. For example: if you would like to have 1000 readers, you must have worked 166 years, eight months and a week. At minimum.
Talent is allowable, even charm, but it has to be squelched in interdepartmental meetings of epic length. Those with excess talent are given the task of creating entrance exams.
Only one unmitigated satisfaction is permitted to members of the TSHC -- as it cannot be avoided. We are the hopeless causes, and we the subcommittee for hopeless causes, and cannot be blamed, therefore, for how tenderly we care for each other.