Friday, October 25, 2013

My Career

(from A Forest Ten Feet Wide, Tokyo 2013)

At last I have settled on a career.  People who know me are sure to be relieved.  Everyone must find a path through the world.  As for me, I am going to be a Japanese society lady.  Naturally it’s not the career path I intended.  Not originally.  It’s not what I went to school for.  At least it’s not what I thought I was in school for, back when I was in school.  Just the same, I’m qualified. 

I have proven that I can spend time in cafes every day.  I have demonstrated this time and again.  Can I obsessively scrutinize my appearance?  Yes, I can.  My nature is already very highly reserved.  I am innately discreet.  While I do not attend movies, I do like to read.  Heavy reading, though by no means required, is at least permitted, the titles discretely shielded by white linen book covers.

I will be my husband’s ornament, his jewel.  I will be beautiful or invisible, as the situation requires.  When my husband comes home exhausted, late at night, I will present his slippers, stir his miso, grace his table.  I will be the fluorescent light of his life.  All he need ever give me in return is a tremendous amount of money.

I warn my husband that my career will be intensely demanding.  Although there are aspects which may appear pleasant – the Dior uniforms, the chitchat, the brunches – there are other aspects which are highly exacting: to eat continually and never gain an ounce, to persist in permanent youth.  Not for nothing do society ladies almost inevitably require heavy-duty psychotropic medications and extensive plastic surgery.  Counseling certainly.  Exotic vacations unquestionably.

I will be a Japanese society lady seven days a week, eighteen hours a day.  Even in my sleep I must aim to dream of Audrey Hepburn, her hands folded in her lap, her expression pleasant, sitting on a white sofa on a white carpet in a room with white walls.

It’s a JOB, I tell my husband.  I can’t just choose the parts I like.  It’s true that I have options.  I have exactly two options.  A set is one option.  The other option is B set.

A set: I will need a dog, a teeny-tiny dog, an adorable itsy-bitsy dog, vicious and prone to ailments.  I will buy my little dog suits and boots and raincoats.  I will treasure my dog above all, I will kiss him, clutch him to my chest, and cry when he sneezes.  Oh my little itsy-bitsy precious puppy dog, my baby, fragile as a blown-out egg and fierce as an  attorney.

My husband says he does not wish to have a dog.  Especially not a little yippy-yappy nasty dog.  In fact, he refuses.  Absolutely not, he says.  And that is OK.  That’s all right.  There is still another option.

B set: I must have long, doomed, drawn-out, hopeless, squalid, sordid affairs.

It’s that or a little dog.

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