(Guest post written by Seralyn for Rumi’s 50th post!)
We awoke to a rather auspicious sunrise, at the far-too-early hour of 7 a.m.
“What manner of person rises at such an hour?” I thought to myself. It didn’t help that I had only fallen asleep a mere two hours before. Bleary-eyed and stumbling, I made my way to the shower room to take what, in hindsight, felt like the Fastest Shower Ever. I believe the shower totaled something like 4 1/2 minutes. You see, a goodly portion of my normal routine had been omitted when the need to cross-dress for this event arose. Can you imagine the legal necessity of cross-dressing for such an occasion? I find it difficult to believe myself. Upon exiting the shower, I’m greeted by an unusually bubbly and perky Rumi-chan. Seeing her demeanor and flippant disregard for the unseemly hour brightened both my mood and my consciousness.
Without thinking, I began to form outfit options in my mind’s eye.
“Oh, right. Boy clothes,” I remembered.
Where did I even put that stuff? After rummaging around in the back and bottom of a drawer, I discovered my sole forgotten pair of guy jeans. At least they turned out to be skinny jeans. It could have easily been the case that I ended up with those denim harem pants that guys call jeans these days. I found a black T-shirt and went in search of a reasonable
top shirt. I locate a military-style button up that hasn’t been worn in over a year. Being that it’s literally the only option, I toss it on top of my bag. “There’s no way I’m wearing this any longer than necessary,” I think to myself. Perhaps it seems I’m being over-dramatic in my distaste for such things(It’s only clothes, right?), but I can’t help but feel strange and at odds with myself as I put it on. At least it’s a simple affair.
Shoes? This is normally the most fun part of getting ready for me. I happen to be addicted to fun shoes, you may or may not know. Straps, platforms, wedges, booties, heels- yes! Gimme, gimme, gimme. Hum… pumps with this outfit are a no-go. Hi-top leather sneakers it is. Once again, my only choice.
Time for hardware. Even as a guy I was oft bespeckled to what was considered a reasonable, if somewhat flowery degree[by some]. I break out and dust off the metalwork rings and fabulous Swiss armpiece given to me by Rumi two Xmases prior. How that particular watch came to be in my possession is another fun and interesting story, involving a trip to Brooklyn from Philadelphia and an extremely trusting Hasidic Jewish man; one we’ll perhaps relate another day. At this point, I’m fully ready and it’s been all of seven minutes post-shower. I glance over at Rumi, who is still working her eyeliner like a champ. I release a sigh. She can read me like a book after these years we’ve been together, and quickly senses that I wish that I too could get glamified for the occasion. She comforts me with meaningful and poignant comments along the lines of, “When we do this for real, you’ll have the most fabulous eye-make up imaginable,” and “We’ll get you some serious heels and a killer dress for the actual thing”. She makes me smile. She always could.
Once she’s finished the primping-stage she retreats to the tatami room and proceeds to finish getting ready while I poke around on the computer. She asks for my opinion, so I turn around and find myself in awe of how beautiful she looks. Resplendent in a white day dress(that was my idea, thank you very much!) and some vintage wooden platform sandals, she stops me in my tracks. After I ogle her for what was probably an indecent amount of time, we decide that we are ready. Documents gathered and in-hand, we do what any self-respecting couple-to-be would and shoot some whiskey before heading out the door. We’re getting married after all.
On the way to the train station we complete the necessary steps to procure the guilty pleasure that will supposedly counterbalance the trail of paperwork we’re about to attempt to surmount and get some McDonald’s Egg and Cheese McMuffins. While waiting for the train, I catch myself in the mirror and somewhat startle myself. I really haven’t gone out in public like this, dressed like this at all, in so long. I shrug it off and decide to start shooting video with which to remember this historic occasion. Rumi and I talk into the iPhone camera, blabbing nonsensically as our whiskey takes effect, in what we’ll later regard as a silly and endearing way.
Train ride- 3 minutes.
While waiting for our two witnesses, we discuss exactly how far away from the pile of trash bags waiting to be picked up we should stand and I greedily consume my McMuffin as Rumi enjoys her whiskey buzz. Our witnesses arrive. They seem surprised to be given McMuffins as well. This pleases me. We walk to the Toshima Ward Office. Directly outside the building I pull my pants’ legs down and put on my shirt. Inside, we go.
Once inside, after locating the appropriate counter, we’re served up nearly immediately, only to realize that we need more time to fill out parts of documents that we previously needed guidance with. Four more groups of people go in front of us as we try to get our witnesses’ information filled in, in Kanji, in the appropriate spaces. It is all very confusing. We finally manage to achieve a state of seeming harmony with the application and approach the counter. We hand the lady the form, our passports, secondary forms, a copy of Rumi’s Family Registry(think Birth Certificate) and a few other peripheral documents. They ask for the original Family Registry. I of course brought it, but think there must be some mistake, because she’s implying that she wants to take it and not give it back. “But this is the original,” I explain to her. She insists that she understands, and that’s how this works. Rumi and I are baffled, and somewhat concerned but figure that this is just how this is to go down. Little did we realize that they’re permanently taking this document away that’s been in her possession since the 70’s, because she’s being un-registered from her family, that she’s creating A New Family Registry. This was a little scary for us.
They finally felt satisfied with what we gave them and disappeared and reappeared intermittently to have us scratch through errant pen marks that could potentially be misconstrued for some other character or to add things they felt should be there. My favorite was when they brought forms back just so I could circle a character. They knew exactly which character needed to be circled and yet they had to make sure I circled it.
Fast forward a bit and we’ve finally sent the witnesses off and get ushered to two other counters. We’re filling out some sort of Certificate of Official Confirmation of Residence(if I can read the characters correctly) when the woman at the counter asks us for our insurance information.
“Yeah, about that…” we say, “we don’t have any.”
She misunderstands and thinks that we mean that we are one of those odd and rare people who pays for private health insurance when the National Health Insurance works just fine and is cheaper.
“No, we don’t have any insurance at all.” we repeat.
“You’re not …in…any insurance program?” She seems somewhat taken aback.
“Actually, we are not.” we inform her.
She asks us to go and sit down and wait for her to call us back up. Rumi and I go sit down and begin trying to guess what the other people around us are there for.
“Those two….getting married, y’think?”
“Maybe…or maybe she’s translating for him. Hmm…” Rumi opines.
They sit down near us. I use my uncanny stealth-spy skills to try listening to what they’re saying. The Japanese girl pulls out her phone and I see a picture of the two of them on the front, faces close.
“They’re totally getting married today too,” I whisper to Rumi. She nods sagely.
At this point our whiskey buzz has worn off and I’m acutely feeling my lack of sleep. I doze intermittently and only vaguely recall the woman coming back over more than once asking, “You really don’t have any insurance?? You’re sure?” A few more noddings off and head-jerks awake we get called over and are told that we’re done here and to go upstairs for insurance registration.
Fast forward through insurance registration, yet another counter, yet another consultation and form, the meaning of which we only vaguely understand- maybe?– and we’re finally done. Actually done. We share a series of curious and utterly unique, yet entirely familiar sequences of facial expressions, and although we desire greatly to go directly to a bar, Rumi has to go teach some Japanese people how to speak English for a few hours. We part ways.
After a quick jaunt through a cookie store, the subway, and a nap which was entirely too short and perhaps more disorienting than if I had stayed awake, she returns and I kidnap her for a string of establishment-hopping. After another shot of whiskey, of course. First, I whisk us to a Yakiniku place on our street that we’ve always wanted to go to, but never have been able to. Yakiniku literally translates to “grilled meat”, but it’s one of those little charcoal braziers with a vacuum tube over it where you grill your own marinated meat and eat it right off of the grill. Next is a stop at our neighborhood Okonomiyaki pub, which is especially delicious in the way of these things. This fellow employs more than the standard Japanese flavors and ingredients in his savory dinner pancakes that are full of chopped octopus, garlic and ginger. Finally we try to go to a sushi place, but decide after we see the line that perhaps we’re not still hungry.
It was time for sweets.
I then lead her to our new artisanal western-goods import store recently completed over our train station and we get a healthy wedge of Roquefort and a couple of pastry cream-filled chocolate eclairs.
We stumble back home. What happened after that is none of your damned business.