(For those of you wondering who I am, hi! I’m Joe. You might know me from my blog. Mutantfrog invited me to come over, so you’ll see me blogging around here from time to time.)
Anyway, as I was saying, there was this guy in my high school class, back when I was on exchange at a shady municipal school in Osaka. His name was Taro (no, not really). He was an interesting fellow for a number of reasons, but the first thing that would probably strike you was his size. I was the tallest person in our school at around 185 cm (including the basketball shoes I wore around because stock school shoes wouldn’t fit me). Taro was very close to my height, but was solid muscle. He wore his uniform shirt open to drive this point home.
He was captain of the judo club and appeared in kendo club from time to time. In judo class, I was his partner. I was never sure why: maybe because we were about the same height, maybe because the teacher secretly hated me. Whenever Taro threw me into the mat, I suspected the latter.
Once you got to know him, you realized that Taro wasn’t just a brick. No, he was also certifiably insane. For one thing, he was the only person in the school who never spoke to me in Japanese: he would only speak guttural high school English. To humor him, I would speak English back.
We were standing in line one day with our shirts off, waiting for a doctor to give us a quick stethoscoping, and I couldn’t help but notice that Taro had a giant red swastika-shaped scar on his right bicep, with a solid red circle right above it. I realized that he must have dug these into his arm with a sharp object. He realized that I was looking at his body art, so I hazarded a question. “Um, do you like Hitler?”
“Yeees!” he answered, with a big smile. “I llllove Hit-la! And Yamamoto, do you know Yamamoto?”
He read books on Chinese close-combat tactics in class, and one time on a field trip, in between random sexual harrassment of our cute homeroom teacher, he turned to me and said: “I AM SAMURAI!”
To which I replied: “Samurai? So where are your swords?”
“I can’t carry!” Taro said. “There’s a law!”
Five years later, I went back to Osaka and met some of my classmates, as well as the aforementioned cute teacher. There were stories about kids who had become truck drivers and graduate students, and one five-foot-tall girl from the art club who had joined the Self-Defense Forces (!). But no mention of Taro. And I’m disappointed, because I want to know if he’s off driving a speaker truck somewhere.