As Chiba Mamoru walked into The Nippon Café that afternoon, he took a deep breathe to strengthen his resolve. He didn’twant to be there.
Oh, it wasn’t that he didn’t want lunch, because he was actually hungry. And it wasn’t that he didn’t want to see his Usako. He did love her after all and she could always make him smile. It was just that he didn’t want to be here. She was the one who actually chose the café. She insisted the food was good. What she hadn’t made clear was the clientele.
It may be unfair to not want to be around so many gaijin, but it was the way he felt, especially about Americans - tourist Americans at that. Many tourists from the United States ate at that particular café. Part of the reason he didn’t like that particular café was because of the conversation he overheard.
“So, she looks at me – all surprised – and says, ‘But she is Korean. I am Japanese.’ And I say, ‘You know I can’t tell the difference between you people.’”
“True. You can’t.”
“As she seemed to get offended by that for some reason. I mean, you are all Asians. What’s the deal?”
Listening to Americans and their parochial opinions and insensitive statements was always difficult. Americans tended to be so sure of their own importance and so ready to dismiss other whole groups. Mamoru had yet to understand why Americans felt so self-important.
He sighed as he sat down at a table near the back. He chose that table, both so no passerby could actually see him and because he could see the door. He wanted to greet his lunch partner, eat and get out of there as soon as possible. The one problem with the table, however, was that he could clearly hear the loud English floating over from the booth next to him.
“But that’s my point. No group can have great television until they have had their own sketch comedy show. You can back me up on this, right Evelyn?”
“Oh, absolutely,” a female voice uttered in response.
“Well then, prove it,” another female voice demanded rather loudly. “Give examples of your sketch comedy thesis.”
“Sure. Well, white folks have SNL.”
“But they had TV before SNL!” the loud female voice demanded.
“True…but we won’t hold early TV against them. You DO have to admit that SNL fundamentally changed TV.”
“Okay, okay. Continue,” the loud feminine voice allowed.
“Evelyn, you ready?” the conversation leader asked.
“Of course,” the other female voice said.
“Well. As I was saying earlier, Hispanics jumped the gun. All other groups who were successful in television had a sketch comedy show first. Whites had SNL. Blacks?”
“In Living Color,” Evelyn answered
“So my point – Wait a second, what-?”
The rest of the leader’s reply was cut off by a familiar greeting coming from the front of the café. As he stood to greet Usagi, he smiled. This smile wasn’t just because of who was coming towards him, although that was a big part of it. No, this smile was also because the greeting was a welcome distraction. He really didn’t want to know how Iron Chef had been presented to Americans that they thought to classify it as sketch comedy.