Most everyone went home early today. Hara-san left before five. Kakizaki-san left even earlier than that. For some weird reason, I stayed on, working through some Aircraft structures material with a few others of the diligents. By almost seven o'clock, I was exhausted and frustrated and not making much progress so I went to go get a snack to tide me over for a little longer before I went home to make some dinner.
When I came back and opened the office door, my 非常nice人 was standing at his desk. I couldn't believe my eyes - I had seen him in my imagination there so often that I looked around at everyone else to make sure that they could see him too. He smiled at me, "Hello." I tried in vain to fight a smile. "You're back?" I asked, my voice betraying my hope. "For the Conference," he replied. I nodded.
A few minutes after that, he and a few others walked out the door. One came back, "Erin, do you want to go to sushi with us?"
Me: Right now?
Me: Is it ok?
Suwa-san: Yes, please come if you'd like.
Without a second thought, I leaped up and followed them out the door. We walked out to Makino-san's car and got in. Looking at the people in the car, I realized that these were all people that I would probably follow just about anywhere. This was a good thing certainly because we went on some very strange route on roads I had only dreamed of traversing. Up and down, around and over we traveled through Yagiyama and ended up somewhere I had never been before. Then we stopped and got out.
They were all anxious. "Have you eaten moving sushi before?" "Never," I replied. "Do they have this in the US?" They asked again. "Hahahahaha," was my reply.
Well, the wait time for the sushi place was 24 minutes. (I could read the machine where we registered for a table). We stood around for a few minutes and then suddenly everyone started walking out the door and I followed, although pretty confused. Everyone had seemed ok with the wait. They had even debated it before they registered for a table. Suwa-san told me that there was a wait which I vainly tried to explain that I already knew about as we all continued out the doors of the restaurant and back to Makino's car.
Once back in the car and with our seatbelts on, Suwa-san explained again. "We are going shopping." "Shopping?" I replied quite incredulously. Everyone nodded, "Yes, we are going to the one coin store." "One coin store?" "Yes, everything is 100 yen - very cheap for students." At that, I started laughing and everyone happily joined in. It was just so...perfect. Here I was, with a group of men who wanted to eat lots of sushi for cheap and go buy stuff they needed at the Japanese equivalent of the dollar store. It was all so G-rated and innocent and fun that I immediately thought of all of my friends that I have done similar things with and felt right at home.
As we got back to the restaurant and settled into our seats, everyone looked expectantly at me. "What do you like?"
Me: I've eaten tuna and salmon and shrimp but I want to try something new.
Fujita-san: Octopus it is!
I watched as the others pulled off sushi plates and asked each of them what they were. Some of them were fairly familiar looking. Fujita-san though, kept pulling off plates of things I had never seen.
Me: What is that?!
Fujita-san: Do you want to try it?
Me: Umm....let me think about it.
Everyone watched my face and then smiled. I think in some ways they liked teasing me as they would watch my face whenever any of them pulled down a plate or ordered something. "Are you up for it?" And whenever, I went to eat a piece of sushi, I felt all eyes on me, waiting for my very transparent first reaction.
I ate the octopus and liked it. I ate the gankun tuna and the salmon. I enjoyed the yellowtail and even the funny white sushi that Fujita-san ordered for me because he said he liked it. The mint leaves with it threw me off more than the fish. By this time I was feeling pretty confident so when Fujita-san said he was eating sea urchin, I decided that I'd be bold and give it a go.
I put the sea urchin in my mouth amid the watchful eyes of the other guys. "How is it?" they asked even though they already knew the reaction from my face. "You don't like it," they smiled kindly. "No, it's not that I don't like it. It's just not my favorite," I tried to cover. "We can tell. It's ok that you don't like it." So I finally gave them my real opinion.
Me: It tastes like farm.
Me: You know, like where they have cows and horses. It tastes like how farms smell.
Makino-san who went to college in agricultural Hokkaido burst out laughing.
After that, they let me alone for a while and I watched Nakajima-san eat some things that I would have been bold enough to try before the sea urchin. But finally, I gathered my courage.
Me: I think I want to try squid.
Everyone: Really? Are you serious?
Me: Yes. I want to try the squid.
The squid came. Everyone watched me as I fiddled with the chopsticks and the squid sushi fell apart in my soy sauce and then as I managed to finally dump the whole thing into my mouth.
Me: It's good!
Suwa-san: It has a nice smell, right?
Me: It has a good taste too.
Suwa-san: Oh, really?
Me: Yes, I really like it!
I really did.
When it came time to pay, somehow Makino-san and Fujita-san were trying to get away with making me pay less than I should. Confused, I started counting my plates for them in Japanese which got them all chuckling at my earnestness. Fujita-san burst out, "Keep that money and go buy something at the 100 yen store." At that we all started laughing and I accepted the kind gesture for what it was.
I wish my 非常nice人 would come back every Friday night.