CHAPTER ONE: FLYING TO MANGALAND
This is the second time Unky Berky and I are flying to Asia. And it’s JAPAN we’re going to, the country of Manga - oh these comics are so cool, I just looove the way they draw the kid heroes, with eyes so round, so wide and so flashy, it’s like they’re begging you to be their friends -, and of karaoke. When my uncle took me to a club in Paris one afternoon, at the beginning I thought it sucked, on account that he got carried away by the music and started to sing so loud in the crowd that the DK - it’s the DJ of that kind of performance, yeah, ok, I’ve invented the word, what’s a writer for? - dragged him to the podium, so that he could show his singing shtinging talent. They were playing ‘Gloria’. Goddess almighty, his voice was so high-pitched and flute-like, he sounded like a Castrato, them Italian anti-tenors of yore who had their thing cut off in order to have angelic voices. How do I know? My uncle took me to a movie about the life of Farinelli who lived in the 18th century and became one of the most famous grandees in Opera. The actor was so handsome and so vely vely sexy, in spite of his half-male, half … never mind … condition, that I could see myself having a boyfriend like him … err … hir… in the future.
Note and dire Warning: ‘HIR’ is my © ok! It means him and her to describe heterosetchuals who are also physically homeys and lesbies and vice-versa, with no vices, just that they have both male and female stuff downstairs and upstairs. The Shake’n pears word being hermaphrodite - not dyke, nerds!
I must tell you that I hate operas, except for Carmen, because, first, she was a strong-willed felinist who, like my mom, lets no bozo dictate to her what to do, and second, I dig the music from beginning to end, not like Madama Butterfly or La Traviata, where women get the worst part of any deal, and most of the tunes they sing are so boring you feel like throwing rotten tomatoes at their sofisticle dresses.
If you’ve read my previous novels - if not, you should, coz you wouldn’t want to appear like hill-billies among your aristocattish relatives - you already know that my uncle forces me to accompany him to museums, to the theater and even to the opera, Jeezette!
That is the condition if I wish to go to the movies - of my choice … sometimes -, to Disney Paris, to the Christmas fair on the illuminated Champs Elysées, where I’m allowed to buy some nifty stuff, like rings, bracelets designed by poor artists, and other nicknacks, or to travel to interesting countries like, now, Japan. Remember that I’ve visited four continents with Unky Berky. So, ok, I have to make a few sacrifices to get all the nice things he is willing to offer me.
We took Japan Airlines - JAL for short -, a very fine company, even if I hate plane trips. Unlike most other airlines, you smell perfume all along the loooong frigging journey. Apparently they spray it automatically to cover all them fart and feet stink. Then too, the rest rooms are spotless, specially after men take leaks, spreading piss all over the place. I’ve always wondered why the hell they can’t control their thing, using it like a sprinkler. Thank Goddess, my uncle who is terribly finicky and pussy-mousey behaves like a gentleman. I wouldn’t have it otherwise, and he knows it. He also smells nice, so much so, that you’d think he showers himself with Aqua Velva instead of plain water.
What I particularly liked was that the female personnel serving us wore nifty clogs and beautifully designed kimonos, with flowery and nature motifs, specially with tall birds flying past Mount Fuji. They - our geisha-looking hostesses -, seemed to glide over the narrow corridor, like genies. Then too, we were each offered a pair of color slippers, a toothbrush set, earplugs, an eye mask and ivory-like chopsticks. That, I call graceful and civilized. JAL deserves the Oscar of airlines, is what I say.
We landed at To-oh-Kyo- oh’s - that’s how the Japanese call their capital, talking with their nose -, Narita International Airport, at I can’t remember what hour, on account of the jet lag - one thing for sure, I couldn’t feel my legs or feet. Was it morning, noon, after dinner, Goddess only knew? I couldn’t bother nor wanted to check -, bleary-eyed and with our throats scratchy as hell, giving us a toad’s voice. I couldn’t even understand what my uncle was saying when we were waiting for our luggage to arrive.
In the middle of the night a coach drove us to a big hotel where we would spend five nights, before boarding our cruise ship, since our first bus excursions would start from and include the capital.
No need to give you more details about that exhausting arrival and how I plonked myself down on my beddy-bed half dressed. My uncle, ever the fast-i-dious one - mind you he does everything in slow motion, like the turtles - changed in his jammies. I didn’t see him undress on account that I was already K.O. And in any case, he goes to the bathroom to do that, coz he doesn’t want to be called a pedophile, which he isn’t. He’s never tried anything funny with me or with other children. How do I know? Whenever we watch the TV news about priests or politicians who molest minors, he grumbles: “They ought to put these people in prison for at least 20 years, or even get them operated so that they can no longer harm these poor souls.” He even stopped doing stuff with grown-ups, long before I was born, is what I understand. He only falls in love plate-tonically. And here we are often at logger-heads, on account that we usually fall for the same good-looking sweetie pie.
When, eons ago, Unky Berky graduated from New York University in General Business Administration - he hated it, but his father wouldn’t hear otherwise -, the ladder who had an import-export office in Monza, Italy, offered him the best vacation he had ever had, spending three months, first crossing the USA from the East to the West coast to visit some of his Italian relatives (there were a few former mafiosi among them, specially in Chicago), stopping over in Hawaii for one week, so that they could both unwind and swim in Waikiki, that’s in Honolulu, which in them olden days was apparently still a pretty and quiet colonial town, not like the twin sister of Miami Beach it is today, with lots of crime and highways. After that relaxing pause, they flew to Japan where they were welcomed by Papa Binetti’s suppliers. They stayed a whole month in the Land of the Rising Sun - yeah, that’s the powetic name of that country - crisscrossing the island.
My uncle doesn’t stop reminding me - a little too often, with sniffling and bleating nostalgia - that he could never repeat such a ‘fantastic’ experience on account that they weren’t there like tourists, but rather like business guests and that wherever they traveled, they were treated like VIPs. Ok, I got it, enough already! The goon didn’t want to continue working with his father and, instead, fled to France, where, as you know, he works at La Poste, earning peanuts. How can someone fall so low! That’s why he became so stingy and counts every penny we spend on vacation. He deserves to be nicknamed Low-Cost Bonka. I should’t complain too loudly, coz we do visit interesting places across the world.
Before embarking for Japan, my uncle spent an unconscious number of hours, searching on the Internet, the names of the manufacturing firms with which his father dealt. He did find some of them, now led by the sons or by relatives of the former owners. He contacted them and got a few positive replies. They wrote that they would be happy to see us and show us around. Ok, If we will not be VIPs, we can at least hope to be LIPs (lil important persons) in a few occasions.