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    Conversation fear

    9 September is the anniversary of the opening day of the bar where Atsushi and I met. This year, for the first time in three years, I went to the anniversary party alone; Atsushi sent a congratulatory e-mail to the bar’s message board. The guy who runs the place, who along with his partner of 17 years has become one of my best friends, responded that he’s glad we’re still together (despite Atsushi’s being transferred to a distant city) and that we’ve become “like a pair of mandarin ducks.”

    This is a Japanese expression, though I suppose it might be a borrowing from Chinese. It’s usually used as 鴛鴦夫婦 (oshidori fuufu, “Mr. and Mrs. Mandarin Duck”), to describe a couple that’s settled and obviously devoted to each other. So I was touched. I was also amused enough to start my next message to Atsushi with ガーガー (gaa gaa: “Quack quack!”) under the assumption that he’d seen our friend’s post. (He had.)

    And I idly looked up mandarin ducks on Google and found this page, which made me smile. Like a lot of male birds, mandarin drakes have colorful plumage to attract mates (they shed it outside the mating season and look like the females then, says one of the sites I read, which I think is also not unusual).

    What was funny about it was that it really is what people tell us we look like as a couple. I mean, where one is decked out and the other plain. I’m not particularly high-maquillage, but I like intense colors and work in a casual enough office that I can wear them on weekdays. Atsushi works at a bank and has to dress conservatively, but–I can say this with confidence after three years with the man–he also really, seriously prefers black, white, navy, and charcoal grey. Only. He has a single (very dark) maroon T-shirt, a single (very dark) hunter green T-shirt, and a single (very dark) cocoa-brown cardigan. Otherwise, everything in his closet is a wintry neutral.

    That’s not a complaint–he has that Asian coloring that’s just heart-stoppingly beautiful in black and white–but it’s funny to go shopping and see him make a beeline for the grey clothes. Like, that’s what catches his eye. I, on the other hand, was once asked by a friend who was going through my closet for a shirt to borrow, “Do you have anything in here that’s not orange or purple? Oh, my bad! I guess this counts as magenta.” Atsushi laughingly pointed out that that’s why I have to wear khakis all the time; my shirts and sweaters don’t go with anything else except jeans.

    Anyway, I thought the picture was cute, even if we could always be snazzier if we tried. It also, being from the Meiji Shrine right here in Tokyo, reminds me that I’ll get to see Atsushi this weekend. I’m flying down Saturday morning, and we’re going to a hot spring. (No lewd jets-of-foam jokes, please; our friends have amply attended to those already. I have to say, I don’t mind that everybody’s a comedian nowadays. I just wish they didn’t all have to be the same commedian.) Just five days to waddle through first.

    2 Responses to “Conversation fear”

    1. Marzo says:

      That was peacefully moving. Thank you for sharing it.