While On A Coffee Break Last Tuesday

Starbucks, Abenobashi.

1. A thin, pinched, tired-looking woman quietly berates her dumpy, pony-tailed son, who sits impassively while she delivers a policy paper on his life, his future. There are deep, vertical lines between her eyebrows and on either side of her mouth, which is the only part of her scowling face which moves. Finished her muttered tirade, she sips from her iced coffee and passes him a bank envelope. He nods, all but imperceptibly, and pockets it. They look around –not at – each other, somewhere in the middle distance. Eventually, she looks at her watch, and they leave. This is the third time this year I have seen them re-enact this ritual. Now and then, the son is seen in the morning, at the same table, impassively reading a manga.

2. Young man meets slightly older woman, Starbucks staff, for a job interview. He passes her the application he was asked to fill out. She skims his replies, and while he is answering her questions, I note that

– he is so scrawny that the woman is larger than he is (a rarity here)

– he has attempted to impress (dress for success!) by wearing his most expensive pair of shredded jeans

– his t-shirt reads ‘Canadian Ice Wine Gallery’ (this is what caught my eye in the first place), and

– he has a large hickey (what they call here a kisumaaku – kissmark) on the right side of his neck.

One week later, I’m still wondering if he got the job.

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