Tom the “tanpan”
I met Tom through my Waseda friends. He had done an exchange program at Waseda a few years back and returned to Japan when he got a job at one of the American investment banks in Tokyo. We slept together one night after we had a bottle of champagne at his apartment. After attending a big conference all day (as an assistant), I was tired, and the champagne and the strangely alluring scent of his cologne were enough to lower my standard.
Tom looked like an American tourist from the Midwest (he was indeed from Illinois.) Tall and stocky, thinning blond hair covered with a baseball cap. But his pink fleshy cheeks were adorable when he grinned. After the hookup, I felt so embarrassed that I took a taxi home against Tom’s insistence on spending the night. He told me later that he was hurt by my action. “If you like the person, you stay!” he said.
He asked me out for dinner sometime later. We were to meet at Omotesando, the area with hip restaurants and bars. Expecting an as elegant night out as ones with Noah, I put on my favorite purple paisley patterned halter neck dress and waited for him in the drizzling rain. I was aghast at his appearance when he came out of the subway stairs. He was wearing chino shorts. But his sin was not just the bottom. Blue gingham check shirt was tucked in the shorts with a belt, and I was certain he would have worn a fanny pack if it were a day out. I looked down at his feet and, to my horror, saw a pair of white tennis shoes with white mid-calf socks. I looked up in agitation to meet his dismayed expression and almost laughed in his face. His wispy bangs were slightly curled and made a straight line over his pink forehead. Overall, he looked like a middle-aged man in children’s clothes. We walked down Omotesando street in silence, as I kept 6 feet distance from him lest people would think we were together. After dinner, I came home and called my friend Sachi that my date showed up in tanpan, meaning “short pants” in Japanese. She was also amused by my description of the rest of Tom’s attire. I nicknamed him tanpan behind his back ever since.