Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Bucks Party in Tokyo

So there he was. It was 7am, the day before the biggest day of his life, and he was wandering around Shinjuku Train Station in Tokyo, the busiest train station in the world. Fair-haired and towering over the local population at 6’3”, it was not hard to spot him. He was wearing a white shirt crudely cut to be short sleeve, stockings, leg warmers, underpants (he’d long ago lost his skirt), a schoolgirl/sailor’s tie and collar, and long black pigtails. Not surprisingly, he was alone. He had one thing in his possession, his travel card to allow him to catch a train.

While all of this was surprising for early morning commuters, what was possibly most surprising was that Chop had done this to himself.

After the briefest of preparations, including jumping off the bullet train from Osaka at about 3:30pm, checking in to the hotel and then running out to get the last of his uniform before meeting up in the hotel prior to heading out. While getting dressed, Chop mentioned to us that he had given his bride to be everything he had of value, except his train pass. There was nothing left for us to take. First stop was the Monster Cafe. There were two tables there – the six of us and a group of six locals. Monster Cafe prides itself on multiple burgers. Stacks of burgers (buns included). The most you could get was six, which is what the table next to us had ordered between them. They ordered first and were served first, well ahead of us.

Chop, of course, was given the six stacker to eat by himself. He was at one stage going to give away one of the six, an avocado burger, until he realised there was meat in the avocado burger also.

Like so many things with Chop, what happened in the following 14 minutes was part art, part circus freak show. He demolished all six burgers in 14 minutes. The only pause was on the fifth burger, and that was only because it was a Spam burger.

He finished before the neighbouring table finished their shared six burgers. And he ate more than the rest of his bucks party combined.

It would prove to be a tactical error on our part to ply him with burgers. It hindsight it was all so obvious: it lined his stomach. So when we went to the next bar, a magnificent stylised 50s Japanese bar, the whale bacon and raw horse really only kept him topped up with food.

Appropriately turning back the clock himself in the retro-bar, Chop recalled his O-Camp days by drinking beer from a kettle. He didn’t have a choice really: that’s how it was served.

The Hub, a traditional English chain pub, followed, with shots of cachaca rum, and mingling with the most camp Japanese guy of all time. The sight of a 6’3” gaijin dressed as a schoolgirl no doubt went straight to the w@nk bank for him.

We left the bar and promptly received a promise from an African spruiker that he would provide some entertainment at a gentleman’s club upstairs. We sat down and were accompanied by what could only be described as an interesting array of ladies. The guy was clearly an equal opportunity employer. Alas, a strip joint is a place that sorely needs to be a meritocracy.

Shockingly, our spruiker friend decided that the conditions of entry did not apply once we entered his establishment. Our 2 hours of drinking, girls and karaoke turned in to 45 minutes, a couple of drinks (some of which may have been spiked) and two and a half karaoke songs, the last of which was cut off mid-song to inform us that our time was up and we had to leave. The ladies didn’t dance – they were “company” for us, not “entertainment” and none of them got a red cent out of us, which in retrospect is probably why we were told to leave so early.

With a combination of wounded pride, Dutch courage, and disappointment at the night turning in to a fizzer, two or three of us stayed just outside the establishment, standing next to the spruiker doing a bit of “anti-spruiking”, telling anyone who could understand us through the language barrier and drunkenness that the place was a rip-off and that we wanted our money back.

Shockingly, it didn’t work. But it did result in at least one of the bucks party being picked up (literally) by a certain 6’3” Japanese schoolgirl (now missing “her” skirt) and dragged away from the spruiker, undoubtedly for his own good.

All the time we were remonstrating, Ranty hadn't moved. He was sitting on a wooden box, elbows on his knees, head slumped, somehow balancing himself in a drunken stupor. He literally hadn't moved. We didn't really mind too much, until we got bored, sleepy and needed to leave. Most of us were well smashed, but not the buck - he was still going strong, with six burgers soaking up the booze in his stomach.

Finally, it seemed this super-sized schoolgirl was useful to us. With Durack and myself fading, and Ranty already out for the count, we needed someone to carry him to a cab, and Chopper was the man (a term loosely defined given his attire). He lugged Ranty to the cab by slinging him over his back.

There was one question still to be answered: who will get him out of the cab at the other end?

With the all-too-convenient benefit of hindsight it is clear now that we hadn’t considered the answer to this question. You’d think that the two of us, Durack and I, could help Ranty get to his room to sleep, but Ranty couldn’t help himself. He was comatose. Dead weight – this time, literally.

Durack wasn’t helped when, on approaching the hotel, I awoke from my own drunken slumber to announce that I needed to do number threes. I ran off feeling the convulsions and gagging, but curiously nothing came of it. A few minutes later Durack would arrive at the door to my hotel room, covered in blood and bundling Ranty into his room, where we threw him onto the bed (only semi-successfully – he was half on the bed until the following afternoon).

What happened in the few minutes intervening was quite extraordinary.

After I’d left the car (running for the bushes first, then convincing myself I could make it to my room), the taxi pulled up at the hotel and Durack tried to instil some clarity and purpose into Ranty. Only a completely drunk friend would attempt such a thing. In hindsight it was like trying tell a rock to dance the Macarena. Ranty was totally unresponsive, so Durack still tried to lift him out of the cab. As soon as Ranty’s weight transferred from the cab to Durack, he teetered.

Just before completely losing control, he had enough clarity to know Ranty was about to smack face-first into the pavement. He reached out his hand to protect Ranty’s face, and perhaps saved him from extensive rhinoplasty. But this moment of chivalry had its price. Durack was himself propelled to the ground thanks to gravity. And of course he had to spare hands with which to break his fall. So while Durack limited Ranty’s injuries to a fairly mild black eye, he broke his fall withe the bridge of his nose.

Blood was everywhere.

From their position at the head of the cab rank at the (five-star) hotel, Durack could see blood all over the place, and Ranty in a blissful slumber on the pavement in front of him. With blood pouring out of him, and panicking like a jealous husband who’s just killed a cheating wife, he went looking for something to get the blood off. After searching the forecourt of the hotel, he ran across the road to a fountain and washed himself clean. He returned, still bleeding but at least cleaner, to the cab rank.

Ranty had gone.

How could someone so blissfully passed out on pavement have disappeared without a trace? On looking up at the entrance to the hotel, Durack found his answer: over-efficient concierges. They were trying to get Ranty into a wheelchair. The limits of Durack’s chivalry had been reached however. Rather than ensure his friend was safe or assist the concierges (or tip them), he took photos.

All I can say is that I wish I could still post photos on this blog. Other than the comatose Ranty, the funniest thing in the photos is the genuine concern shown by the concierges for Ranty’s wellbeing (this concern was not painted on, service industry boilerplate: it was genuine). All the while, his friend is p!ssing blood and taking photos of him.

Not surprisingly, none of us were functional on Saturday.

But where was Chop in all of this? Whether he admitted it or not, he seemed think the Bucks party was in fact an episode of Survivor: Tokyo. While three of us had already fallen by the wayside, Trev, Noodles and Chop remained standing. Unfortunately Noodles had fallen asleep while standing, so was technically disqualified. Trev decided Noodles had to come back to our hotel and sleep on the floor, and communicated this to Chop.

This must have slipped Chopper’s mind, as he wandered off to Shinjuku station it was still only about 5:30am. Trains had not started running yet. If he was hungry, that was too bad. All he had in his possession was his train pass. He didn’t even have pants (he had to keep it in his shirt pocket). After running around a couple of train stations trying to navigate his way home, he finally gave up, jumped in a cab, determined to pay for it when he got back to his soon-to-be-wife’s house.

As he arrived home, his fiancée and Noodles’ girlfriend asked how the night went, and where Noodles was. Chopper said that Noodles had got a train home earlier than him, which sent Noodles’ girlfriend into a mild panic. By the time Noodles woke up at about midday, he had several texts and missed calls from his girlfriend, wondering if Noodles had slept in a gutter and, if so, whether he still had both his kidneys. We didn’t know any of this until Chop called us and his first question was “is Noodles OK?”

Our response was “he’s the least of your problems – he didn’t even suffer facial injuries.”