39. Karma’s for Suckers

(Apologies for the lateness of this post. This is due to Japan’s Golden Week, a series of holidays no one knows the names of that stretches out for a week or so. I believe one of the holidays is Green Day, and I guess we’re supposed to go outside or something. Also somewhere in there is Emperor Showa Day and, shortly after that, Constitution Day, which is enough to give a fellow whiplash. There is also another day when they hang out big windsocks shaped like carp. Someone told me this is called Children’s Day, but I cannot see the connection. Large, lazy, inedible creatures you often regret pulling up from the murky depths where they just lie around all day and eat. And fish.

At any rate, due to these holidays, whatever their names may be, and the general sloth of my staff members, Mrs. Doyle and Mr. Kikuchi, the reassembly and posting of missing American Eddie Trombone’s manuscript “Teach Yourself Japanese” has been delayed, jeopardizing the entire investigation, possibly endangering the missing young man’s life, and robbing me of the 15 minutes required to write this preamble. So without further ado, I return you to the miasma that is “Teach Yourself Japanese.” Me, I’m going to lunch. –U.S. Consular Officer Gerard K. Dirkins)

Karma’s for suckers.

What goes around . . . well, it just goes around. And whatever comes around is as preordained as cigarette ashes from the car in front of you, so the only thing to do is roll your window up and drive real fast, which you ought to do anyways to keep the Moonies from selling you flowers at traffic lights.

Hell, even the Moonies know Karma’s for suckers. But then they have their own explaining to do, like for instance why did Jesus choose Japanese-occupied Korea to visit in 1935, why can’t they get married in groups of less than 1000, and what’s up with that Proctor & Gamble logo?

The P&G logo, proof of the Moonies’ pact with Satan (archive by Kikuchi)

All of which does not detract for a moment from the central truism of life on this planet, which is as follows:

Karma’s for suckers.

We’re all on a rock that’s spinning in space, which is why our hats don’t come off, and, more often than not, what you deserve gets given to a guy two streets over, and you get what’s coming to a twitchy twenty-something selling angel dust to high school kids behind a Seven Eleven.

Karma’s for suckers.

Connections in this world are tenuous and haphazard, like the trembling lines of snot from Kale’s nose to the cheap tissues he got from one of the sullen youths you see slouching on the street corners in Osaka’s Namba area. As if to underline my point, one of the translucent lines broke and the glob of glutinous gunk fell against Kale’s organic hemp shirt, leading my new friend to comment, “Wow.”

Unidentified sullen youth handing out tissues (archive by Kikuchi)

Kale was from California.

“Dude,” he expanded.

Kale was from Southern California.

“Karma,” I said.

“Yeah, totally,” he replied, missing the sarcasm in my voice, a bitter sarcasm born of a keen appreciation of life as random, non-refereed, and unfair in a cruelly dispassionate, maddeningly non-malevolent way.

“What goes around,” I began, unable to stop poking my tongue at this sore, wobbly tooth.

“Comes around,” Kale finished.

“And that’s why you should wash your hands more often,” I told him, but he couldn’t hear because he was blowing his nose straight through one of those magically dissolving tissues. “It’s cold and flu season.”

“Yes, yes,” Kale agreed with what he thought he heard in his congested head. “Very Zen.”

I answered with silence.

“Very Zen,” he interrupted.

Kale gingerly pushed into an overflowing city garbage receptacle the empty tissue packet and its advertisement for a Korean barbecue place with a 1,000 yen all-you-can drink deal.

“That’s why I came to Japan,” Kale said.

“Yeah, that’s pretty cheap.”

An onigiri, a triangle of rice wrapped in dried seaweed (archive by Kikuchi)

“Peace and enlightenment,” he continued, and I realized he probably wasn’t talking about the all-you-can drink deal. But it was a pretty good deal, and so I tugged the advertisement out of the trash, pulling with it and spilling onto the sidewalk half an onigiri, which brought three crows hopping over from where they were picking at a chicken wing.

“The sound of one hand clapping in a forest where there is no one to hear it,” Kale added, dragging a famous Buddhist koan through the tangle of his mind, and in the process getting other stuff stuck to it.

“An eye for an eye,” I chimed in, kicking at one of the crows.

“What goes around,” Kale marveled, then stopped to open a new packet of tissues and wipe away an enormous bird dropping that had fallen directly on the top of his head.

“Comes around,” I finished, finally connecting with a solid kick to the smallest of the three crows.

(I cannot believe we are using U.S. taxpayers’ money to look for this individual, unless it is to somehow punish him for something. Anything. –U.S. Consular Officer Gerard K. Dirkins)

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