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Geisha-and-two-maiko

Photo by Nils R. Barth, via Wikimedia Commons

As I was half-sitting, half-lying in my chaise, propped up on a bazillion (oh, all right six) pillows, not-quite-sleeping at 3:48 this morning, my befuddled brain was sifting through a highly entertaining slide show of memories, images, scenes that have no bearing on my real life and the dreaded list of tasks-to-do-that-there-is-not-enough-time-to-do.

For no reason, I thought of the time many years ago when I was working on a project in Tokyo and, to celebrate closing the deal, this large group of men (half Japanese, half American – oh, and one Brit) and I, the lone female, went out on the town. After eating a traditional meal of German Wiener Schnitzel and drinking some number of beers, we wound up in a room reserved for us at a private club where we were waited upon by a bevy of lovely Geishas [or perhaps more likely, Maiko? Please see this excellent discussion of the differences]. They were intrigued by a young, single, red-haired American woman and neglected the men in our group to pamper me with warm towels for my hands and a constantly replenished cup of warm sake, giving me shy smiles and discretely fingering my hair. I was as intrigued by them and watched them closely to see what exactly it was that Geishas/Maiko do in the modern age. I did say many years ago, didn’t I? Early 1990s??!! Gah, I’m old!

I was so enthralled that I was astonished when my British colleague started singing “Hotel California” on a small Karaoke stage that I hadn’t recognized because I’d never been in a Karaoke venue before. Nor have I been since because there are some experiences that are so sublimely amazing that we just don’t want to taint them with repeated, usually less amazing, experiences.

My counterpart – the lawyer representing the Japanese firm in our negotiation – a smart, handsome, young married man from a prominent law firm in Chicago with whom I had sparred, often bitterly, for many weeks asked me to sing with him and I – stoked with enough sake – accepted. There passed a few minutes while we negotiated (far more amiably) over which song would make a good duet. We finally settled on Elvis’ “Love Me Tender”.

Please tell me you can see the irony and hilarity in this situation?

Anyway, he had a lovely baritone that complimented what I guess you’d term my mezzo-soprano(?) and we really gave it all we had, even holding hands and gazing into each other’s eyes with faux affection. We got a standing O from our crowd and the Geishas, or Maiko, all swarmed around me after we finished to pet me and fluff up the pillows at my seat on one of the low couches.

I haven’t thought of that incredible night in years! And I giggle as I recall it and shake my head that the memory is so vivid and clear. Thank God that was waaay before there was YouTube!

Do you have a memory that stands out because it represents something wildly unique or out of character for you? Have you sung Karaoke? In front of an audience (yikes!)? Share your stories, we’d love to stroll (or dance) down Memory Lane with you!

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