This night started like every other truly disastrous night in my life: Tequila. I’ve done literally unspeakable things under the influence of tequila, things I’m still embarrassed about to this day, which is a notoriously hard point to get to in my life.
A little backstory about my life, and life in general. Let’s just recap a conversation I had with a co-worker “Books” a week ago:
(Disclaimer: This conversation is approximate because I drink a lot and I’m not an OCD psycho.)
Me “You don’t remember talking to me at all last night?”
Books “No; what did we talk about?”
Me “Seriously? You don’t remember seeing me in the hallway, asking me about whether I secured the [blah blah blah boring classified things], taking me back to where we work, and re-locking everything up needlessly just to make sure?”
Books “… No, not at all.”
Me “After that you took the key and said, ‘I’m gonna go giv’dis to da Major,” and walked off. I was only following you up to that point to make sure you didn’t fall down — or up — the stairs.”
Me “How much did you drink?” (Not that I’m judging.)
Books “Like five drinks, max. But a couple of them were tequila.”
Me “Ehhm. Hmm.”
Books “They said it was not very strong. I don’t believe them.”
Me “You know the liquor store on base?”
Me: “For all the rules and fucking pointless, counter-productive bureaucracy that this military base has when it comes to drinking alcohol, if you look where the vodka is, on the bottom shelf, you’ll see a bottle that says ‘Spring Clear’ or ‘Clear Lakes’ or some shit. I don’t remember what it’s called, for good reason. It’s grain alcohol, 190 proof. That’s 95% pure alcohol.”
Books [wide-eyed] “What?”
Me: “Yeah, I’m serious. That is literally my drink of choice. So I am telling you this from a position of authority — tequila will fuck your world up. It is not safe. It makes bad decisions, and you live with the consequences.”
A lot of the poor life choices I’ve made are my fault, something like 98% of them. But at least that 2% can be blamed on the fact that tequila sucks the life force out of you every time you drink it.
The tale I’m about to recount to you was a tequila night. Starting off my night with tequila has always been one of those superstition-to-reality bad omens. And every time, I think to myself, “Whatever, that was last time, this is stupid, I’m taking this shot.” And I have been wrong every single time.
Me and my two very good friends, Locke and Glider, both ended up at our favorite bar in town, which was seriously named “ISIS.” Been named that for many years before Daesh started killing people in Iraq and Syria, so it’s just a coincidence. Probably.
We knew the owner of the bar — who I’ll call Kilo and is incidentally Middle Eastern so the whole ISIS thing is even funnier to me — so we stayed until the bar closed. When the bar actually did close, Kilo locked the door and we all kept going. At some point we had our fateful tequila shots.
A problem with drinking in Yokosuka is that the three of us (not Kilo) are all in the military. We have a midnight curfew, and cannot drink in public establishments past… actually I don’t remember because I never, ever followed the fucking curfew. If we wanted to keep drinking, we just went to a different city where the navy’s Shore Patrol (the hall monitors of the US military) aren’t.
With all of us reaching the point of ‘mildly buzzed,’ Glider brought up the idea of taking the last train to Yokohama, about a half hour away. At some point we said “fuck it, let’s just go to Roppongi.”
If you don’t live in Japan or don’t know anything about it, Roppongi is kinda the Las Vegas of Tokyo. The seedier, sadder parts of Vegas, not the casinos and bright lights. I describe it as such: “Every time I’ve been to Roppo, I leave a little piece of my soul behind.” I also don’t even really mean that as an insult.
Every building is a bar, or a disco that is a front for a brothel. There are prostitutes everywhere you look (although not nearly as much as Middle Eastern bars), Africans trying to hustle you into going to their bar, which usually turns out to be shit, hookers trying to hustle you into ‘getting a massage,’ everyone who isn’t working is drunk, there are people passed out in the sidewalk, someone puking around every other corner… you get the idea.
It’s a dirty, sketchy place at best; dangerous and borderline lawless at worst. It’s fantastic.
Kilo has a friend who was driving to Roppongi that night because the friend owned a restaurant there or something. It was like 11:30 pm, and we said why not.
The four of us left Kilo’s bar to meet up with his friend, who I think was Egyptian, across from a shawarma stand. Kilo explained the situation, and Egypt said he was cool with it.
“Just wait, let me move this into the back.”
Egypt then starts to unload the stuff in his backseat to place in the trunk. It was meat. Like probably 30-50 pounds of frozen meat.
Think about that. You’re about to take a ride for over an hour, in the middle of the night, with a guy you don’t know, who just moved a great deal of unknown meat from his backseat, to BY FAR the grungiest part of Tokyo.
It was fucking creepy and worrying.
Did that deter us? Would I even be writing this story if it did?
Egypt wanted Glider to sit up front with him, since Glider is an attractive woman, and he’s a weirdo who keeps 50 pounds of frozen meat in his backseat.
Along the way, I periodically checked Google Maps to make sure he was at least taking us in the general direction of Roppongi.
He was not.
We were absolutely not going in the direction of Roppongi, or even Tokyo at all.
I began to suspect where he got all that meat from, and motion over to Locke to look at my phone. We give each other a look that says “We are probably going to die, and there’s nothing we can do about it.” But it was also a look that said, “Fuck it, I don’t really care. Do you? No? Alright whatevs.”
All five of us were chatting the whole way there, but I don’t remember any of it because I was trying to read Egypt’s voice to see if he was a psychopath about to turn us into tomorrow’s shawarma kebab lunch special.
Egypt turned out to be a pretty cool guy, and eventually I saw that the motorway we were taking actually kinda looped around and brought us straight into the heart of Roppongi. And I never owned a car or drove once during the three years I lived in Japan, so I don’t know why I assumed in the first place that I could pass as any sort of authority on whether we were going the right way or not.
We get out of the car, just under that iconic bridge that says “Roppongi” on it. Hookers everywhere you look, hustlers, scammers, people stumbling around… we’re here!
Our first stop for the night was this place that Kilo assured us was going to be awesome.
We got there, and this “bar” was… nice. Like REALLY nice.
I wouldn’t even really call it a bar; it was more like a lounge, or what I imagine cigar clubs look like. With a lot of really nicely dressed people in it.
On the other hand, here’s our crew:
Kilo: He was wearing slightly dressed-up clothing already because he had just come from his job at the bar he owns. A little underdressed for the place, but not bad.
Glider: She was wearing leggings and a T-shirt. Like a regular fucking gray T-shirt with some basketball logo and a bear/tiger mascot. With yoga leggings.
Locke: He was wearing his usual green shirt, thin black cotton overshirt thing (‘vest’ is probably too strong a word), and some cargo shorts. Very likely the same clothes he was wearing yesterday.
Me: Besides Kilo, I was the best dressed of the group, which I can assure you is NEVER the case. I had jeans, a fairly nice button-up shirt, and a white undershirt.
So I was in cheap church clothes, Glider looked like she just woke up, and Locke looked like he hadn’t slept the past two days. The women in here were in the types of dresses I’d only seen in YouTube videos of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The men were in suits.
I’m not kidding when I say the bouncer took a passing glance and rejected us. He didn’t even really study us all that much, he just knew vagrants when he saw them. He seriously was not going to let us in.
Kilo told him that we were cool, and “they’re with me.” Well Kilo must be a bigger fucking deal than I realized, because the bouncer completely 180’d, said alright, and let us through.
You know those really nice lounge areas in really nice hotels? The hotels that you only stay at when your company pays for it? That’s a good enough approximation. Red carpeted floors, fancy cushioned seats, some kind of expensive, dark wooden bar counter. Dark lighting, but just bright enough to shmooze and network. No prices listed for their drinks (if you have to ask, you probably shouldn’t be here). We were way underdressed for this place. We looked like the bar was doing “homeless night” for charity.
After a bit of awkwardly sitting there, trying to pretend we didn’t look like fucking street bums, Glider and I decide to say “fuck everything” and we go up to the bar to get some drinks. They don’t have any of the commoner, have-not, working class drinks that we ask about. I don’t think they had anything that resembled my request of “well liquor.” If memory serves, the cheapest vodka they had was Grey Goose.
So we got some of that and Red Bull. The bartender was polite, but I could feel her judgment of “you do not belong here.” No kidding, buddy. We know.
We were sitting at a table with three rich people that none of us knew except Kilo. So we just started drinking and dared life to challenge us.
Later at some point, someone mentioned that the governor of Florida was just here, and had left like a minute ago. Seriously, the governor of Florida? I’m still not sure whether that last sentence I just wrote should have a question mark, a monotoned period, or an excited exclamation point. Or maybe even two question marks.
If I had known he was there (and knew what he looked like… or even what his name was) I absolutely would have fucked with him.
– Do you read the /r/FloridaMan subreddit?
– What the fuck are you doing in a bar in Roppongi?
– Is the hookers-and-blow lobbyist force so strong that you have to come here and pay your dues to the Yakuza?
– Are you here to “dispute your fraudulent credit card charge?” Don’t worry; we’ve all been there.
– Why is your state filled with a bunch of old people?
– Why is your state filled with a bunch of racists?
– Why is your state filled with a bunch of old racists?
– What the hell happened in the 2000 election? Besides Jeb Bush rigging the election for his brother.
– Did you personally get an erection when George Zimmerman got away with murdering a kid because he was black? Like, are we talking half-chub, or rock solid?
If we (well, me) had pissed him off, I’d just lay down the nuclear option that works on all Americans, everywhere.
Me “I’m in the armed forces.”
Approximation of typical response: “Oh wow! You’re military? Thank you for your service! I love you! Can I suck your dick?”
But alas, by the time we knew of his presence, he’d already left. Otherwise I would have written about this story a lot sooner.
After a few drinks and living the high life (HA!) for a while, we move on to seek out a place that is a little less “my bonus was only $65,000 last year” and a little more “how many of the women in this bar AREN’T prostitutes?”
The second bar we go to was pretty quiet. Well, before we got there, anyway.
You had to walk a long staircase, after which the bar opened up into an empty middle area, with rows of blue-colored booths on the left side, and a smaller red-colored booth area on the right side that looked more like the little waiting area where people queue to get into IHOP. All the walls are mirrors, but for some reason it didn’t look like one of those fun house places where you get disoriented because shit goes on forever. Probably for the best.
There was one table in the otherwise empty middle area. Like one single table, and nothing else. I’m not even sure if it was for customers to use, but that’s where we planted ourselves for the next hour or so.
It was here that I took the only photo of the night. I don’t take many pictures, because I really don’t care; the way I share my experiences with the world is through the blog you’re reading right now.
There was a sticker on one of the wall mirrors telling us emphatically not to dance here, because it’s against the laws of the city or some such fascist bullshit. I can’t read the whole sign in the picture, because in it, Glider is of course in the way dancing.
We decided the bar was too quiet and stuffy, and we would liven it up. I kept inviting random girls from the booths up to dance with us, but the only woman who seemed interested was this hot older woman (maybe 40s) who just slyly smiled at me, but never came up to us. So we made our own fun.
I joked around with the waiters, and I think at one point we got them to turn up the music. I may have asked a waiter if I could go into the kitchen; had they said yes, I had no plans as to what I would actually do in there. I’d have made it up as I went along, like I do everything else in life.
Eventually after a few more drinks and my beligerent flirting-bordering-on-harassment to the female waiters and any girl within arm’s reach, we had enough of this snorefest and decided to leave.
Glider and Locke went ahead, when I was stopped by the hot older woman who had been smiling at me all night. I don’t know if I just ran into her on her way to the bathroom, or if she actually approached me because we were leaving.
Me [very drunkenly] “You’re so beautiful.”
Wow, great conversation starter, Adam.
Milf “Do you want to have a good time?”
Me “Are you working?”
She quotes me a price.
Me “I don’t have that much money. How about a kiss, for free?”
Milf smiles and says “Okay.”
And the street bum and prostitute shared a kiss.
Am I ashamed of myself? Absolutely not. Should I be? I don’t know. I’m the wrong person to ask these kinds of questions.
At some point, Kilo had to go do normal people business stuff, so the three of us continued to quench our sobriety. We decided to do one of my favorite things: street drinking. Go to a 7-11 or some other standard convenience store, buy some alcohol, and drink it on the side of the road like the street vermin that we are.
The best was chu-hai. Ahh, one of the things I miss most about my time in Japan. It’s a fruity alcoholic drink that they apparently only make in Japan, but this isn’t some Mike’s Hard Lemonade bullshit. The “Strong” cans are 16oz and 9% alcohol. Yes, 18 proof, and you can buy it from a convenience store. Also public drinking isn’t illegal at all. Trashy, sure, but completely legal.
You can drink on the damn public trains in Japan. My friends who came to visit me weren’t quite sure whether to believe me or not, so I bought a beer from a vending machine (yeah, they have those too) and cracked it open right there on the train platform in front of them. Why the hell is America the country that always runs around blathering and jerking themselves off about freedom?
On our way to look for some chu-hais, I had to throw up.
Like, a lot.
I’m not sure how much I had to drink at that point in the night, but I can practically drink a gallon of straight liquor and still fit a reasonable definition of “functional.” So it could have been anywhere between 10 and 20 drinks over the last few hours.
I couldn’t wait the couple minutes to get to an actual bathroom, so I picked an empty alley to puke in. Well, it was more like a wide-open street, but whatever.
I went as far as I could before a fence stopped me, I saw a traffic cone, and I tipped it upside down to puke in. I easily filled the bottom third of it with the past few hours of alcohol, mistakes, and stomach bile.
Then I had the brilliant idea to “dispose of the evidence,” as if anyone actually fucking cared or (besides Glider and Locke) even noticed that I hurled into this orange cone. I decided I would do this by throwing the cone over the fence.
So I lifted it up and tried to heave it over the fence. Only all of this internal deliberation about what I was trying to do took place ONLY inside my head. So Locke and Glider didn’t really know what I was doing.
Locke has told this story to our other friends a few times, so I’ll tell the next part from his perspective.
Locke “Adam goes into the alleyway and pukes inside an orange cone, and the next thing I see is him pick the traffic cone up and hold it up in the air. I said ‘What is he doing?’ to Glider, and she didn’t know either. Then, Adam tips the cone over toward his head, and dumps all the vomit all over himself. Glider starts dying of laughter, and I just screamed ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING?’ I was so shocked and confused. Why would you do this?”
Picture this scene. Really feel it. One of your best friends vomits in a traffic cone, holds it up in front of him, and then lifts it over his head, pouring his own vomit all over himself.
Yeah, I TRIED to throw it over the fence, but in my drunken idiocy, I couldn’t really figure out how to do that. As I lifted it up further to try and get leverage and adjust my grip, all the beautiful consequences of my actions that night came spilling out all over me and my clothes.
If you think that deterred me from continuing to drink, you’ve either never met me, or haven’t read anything else on this website.
I took my button-up shirt off and threw it in a bike basket. It would remain there forever. That’s what you get for parking your bike in Roppo, I guess. Cleaned off my jeans and shoes as best I could in a bathroom, which just made it look like I wet my pants. I’m not sure which I preferred, but at least water doesn’t smell like food and stomach liquor.
After our street drinking and wandering around more, our next bar was some basement thing. Typical Roppo bar, very bright lights at the bar, kinda dark and moody through the rest of it, and only a couple on-staff hookers. We were taking shots for a while, and I was way too hammered to continue to drink. Did it anyway, obviously.
The rest of this story takes quite a different turn. I’ll just tell it exactly like it is, how I remember it, and how both Glider and Locke have described it to me. Vulnerabilities and all.
According to my friends, we were there for about 20 minutes or so, when they start to notice that I haven’t said much lately. They look over and see that I’m basically trying to stare a hole into the table in front of me. Silently. Just sitting there.
Locke “Adam? You okay?”
I apparently didn’t respond at all, and just continued to sit there. They went back to their conversation, and when they looked over at me again, I was silently crying. I wasn’t even saying anything.
Glider “Are you sad about Stacy?”
My gaze went from the table, straight down to the floor, which obviously meant “yes.”
I’m going to try to give as little backstory as possible here, because I don’t want to bore you to death. I had just been dumped by a woman maybe a month-ish before this, who we — as you have already found out — will call Stacy. I hope she doesn’t really read this, but I guess, whatever.
I had been head-over-heels for this girl.
However, several of my friends described her with hit reviews such as:
“Absolutely uninteresting in any way.”
“Not the type of girl I imagine you being with in life.”
(NOTE: My friends only told me the truth of what they thought about her AFTER we broke up. Thanks, assholes.)
She was a British English teacher in a city near mine, we met online, and we got along well right out of the gate. She was pretty, relatively smart, or at least not dumb. In hindsight, yeah there wasn’t really anything that should have drawn me to her so much, other than the fact that all my other online dates before her were mediocre at best, disasterous false advertising at worst. (For example, I went on a date with a girl to an aquarium who was… quite a bit larger than her pictures indicated. I would later describe the date as, “I really liked the aquarium!” Insert your own marine mammal jokes here.)
The real reason, I suspect, is that I was simply ‘ready’ to be in a relationship at that time. I had been single for about two years before her, having just gotten out of crippling, suicidal depression, and two significant, but failed, relationships before the depression. It’s all intertwined, and if you really want me to continue because you enjoy hearing whiny musings about how terrible life is, I’ll give you the phone number to my therapist.
As is always the case with these things, these sorts of introspective realizations come much later in life, months or years after the fact. Even if you DO realize what’s happening at the time, even that doesn’t mean you can just switch your emotions on or off like a basement circuit breaker.
And as every other emotionally damaged, poor-childhood-having, broken alcoholic in the world knows, liquor doesn’t ultimately erase or solve anything. It dulls, sure. But there’s a limit. You can numb your current emotional state, but then after enough booze, it’s almost as if it all flips around back to the start, like you reached 99,999 in Asteroids, reversing everything and numbing everything EXCEPT the thing you’re really upset about.
So yeah, I started bawling because I missed Stacy.
And then I suddenly got up from the table and bolted around the corner, up the stairs, and out of the bar. Completely without warning.
(A lot of what happens after this is a blur, because I was not only hammered, but emotional, running on depression AND adrenaline, and also literally running.)
Both Glider and Locke immediately got up out of their seats and chased after me like true friends. This means that ultimately, we never paid for any of our drinks there, and the bartenders might have thought I was just really sad about how much the bill was going to be.
They chased me around a couple corners, and then saw me run out into the street. This wasn’t one of these back-alleyway-type roads that are typical in Roppo, but a real, actual no-shit busy street in Tokyo, with three or four lanes on each side of the road. I highly doubt I looked both ways before crossing.
Neither Locke nor Glider hesitated at all chasing me into the street. “Well, now I guess we’re chasing him through traffic,” is how Glider described her thoughts nonchalantly.
Locke then witnessed my hilarious-in-another-context attempt to parkour over a barrier in the middle of the street, fuck up the jump, fall down on the other side, keep going by rolling into standing back up like a gymnast, and then continue to run through busy traffic on the other side of the street.
As best as I can recall my emotional state at the time, I really just wanted to be alone right then. But instead of, you know, telling that to my friends, I endangered their lives in their attempt to save mine.
As we were running through various random backstreets, them chasing me, I remember thinking I had to lose them. I did some kind of juke that seemed intelligent in the moment where I made them think I had gone down the right side, but I actually doubled back and went the opposite direction. Or something.
Well, whatever I did worked, because I ditched them.
I sat against a wall in some dirty, dark, morally suspicious back alley of Roppongi and cried, contemplating my… well, I probably wasn’t really having any substantive thoughts, to be honest.
Eventually Glider found me, but Locke wasn’t with her. She tried to comfort me, and I didn’t run. I just sat there and… I’m searching for a verb form of the word “pathetic” but I don’t think we have one in English.
She was trying to make me feel better, and after a few minutes, a tall black guy came around the corner, and in a thick African accent, told us that we probably don’t want to be loitering around this area, because there are police right around the corner telling everyone to go home for the night. (Something bad happened on the street next to us or something, I don’t know.)
Glider, having the sense of a normal human being, thanked him for his advice, and tried to stand me up so we could leave the area.
I had a different reaction. As he was walking away, just about to turn the corner and forever leave this story as an extra, not even paid as a minor appearance or cameo, I yelled out:
“Yeah, FUCK YOU.”
It’s hard to describe what happened next. The guy turned around fast, rushed back over to us, and spouted something like “What did you say to me??” or some other natural reaction to my entirely unwarranted, angry rudeness.
The next couple minutes or so were a merry-go-round of chaos, everything repeating itself over and over again:
– Glider trying to explain to him that I’m drunk and don’t know what I’m doing.
– Him indignantly trying to explain to me that he “was just trying to help” and “why would you say ‘fuck you’ to me??”
– Me getting my face right up to his and screaming at the top of my lungs, “YOU WANNA FIGHT ME? DO IT!” and “HIT ME! HIIIIIIT MEEEEEEE!!” which is a phrase Glider would use to make fun of me with for months.
Eventually either (A) he realized that I was a drunken idiot, or (B) he was actually a little afraid of my angry fearlessness and brazen willingness to fight. He turned to this sort of indirect, partial-passive-aggressiveness where he eventually started only talking to Glider instead of me.
Him “Why would he scream ‘Fuck you’ at me?? I was being nice and helping you two!!”
Glider “I’m sorry! [Turns to me] Adam! Let’s just go! [Turns back to him] We’re going. I’m sorry he yelled at you.”
Me “HIT ME! WHY WON’T YOU EVEN LOOK AT ME! I’M RIGHT HERE! STOP TALKING TO HER! I’M THE ONE WHO SHOUTED AT YOU! WANT ME TO DO IT AGAIN? FUCK YOU! LOOK AT ME, NOT HER! I WANT YOU TO HIT ME!”
This went on for at least another minute or two before she somehow convinced him to leave, and convinced me to stop screaming like a fucking lunatic.
Story doesn’t really have any sort of climactic ending from there. Eventually I ditched her (again), found some house gate to hide in, sit by, and lean against, and there I resumed bawling my eyes out for another hour or so. At 5:00 am, the trains started up again, and I went home.