Monday 29 April 2002


We strolled into Andiamo late on a Friday night. Ayako glanced at the floor, a shadow darkening her face.
“This place is not very clean,” she said. It wasn’t particularly clean but I liked it. Pete and I had coffee there every week. I pulled out a chair for her and she sat down. We ordered.
“Why can’t we go to a nice place?”
“We do go to nice places,” I replied. “But sometimes I like to go to a shabby place, it makes me feel relaxed.”
We’re having the same argument as the couple in Ozu’s Ochazuke no Aji, I realized: the wife with expensive tastes, her husband preferring cheap cigarettes and second class seats on the train. Had I fallen for an o-jo-sama?

She took a sip of her hot chocolate and I waited for her to lick the outside of the cup to catch the drips. Her tongue flashed moist and pink. Already beautiful, this gesture made her irresistible.
“My mother was always telling me not to lick the cup,” she said.
“It’s cute,” I told her. “Sexy too.” She looked skeptical yet delighted.
“What did your father think? About your licking the cup?”
“He didn’t mind. He liked everything I did.”

I’d wondered about her name. I knew that Japanese girl’s names frequently ended in ko — meaning child or small thing — but was curious about aya.
“Did he choose your name? Ayako?”
“Yes he did. It was his mother’s name too.”
I flattened a napkin on the table and called to the waitress to borrow a pen. She gave me one of two tucked into the waistband of her apron. I gave it to Ayako and asked her to write her name. She fussed with the napkin for a moment then carefully wrote two large red characters.

Ayako's nameI asked her the meaning of the character aya.
Aya means gorgeous,” she answered, without a trace of self-consciousness. “It’s an old-fashioned character, not used much any more. People are always asking me to write it for them. Ko means tiny thing or child.”
“Why do so many Japanese women’s names end in ko?” She considered my question thoughtfully.
“I’m not sure,” she finally said. “Perhaps because their fathers don’t want them growing up into tigers.”

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Posted by emoe on 13 October 2003 (Comment Permalink)

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