(I know this is long, and you’re probably going to think I’m being ridiculous, but just bear with me. I’m trying to be as detailed as possible. It’s my blog, after all.)
Once upon a time, I was a customer at a host club.
When I came to Japan last September, I never thought I’d set foot in a host club. I had no interest in such a thing. But one day, something sparked my curiosity. Perhaps it was the opportunity to research something that most people wouldn’t want to mess with. To figure out why I wasn’t like these women, wanting to spend hundreds of dollars for fake love and affection.
Observing hosts turned into visiting a host club, and a single visit to the club turned into four more visits, my most recent one being Thursday. That night was going to be my last one for a while, since classes are going to start up on Monday.
And now that visit (at least to that particular shop) is probably my last one.
My host is quitting this month.
I can’t say it was like he was breaking up with me. Because I’m sure breaking up is many times worse. But I was still upset. He never said a single thing about quitting even once, not when I told him on Monday that I was visiting him, not when we met while he was on ‘catch’ duty on Wednesday, not when I spent that entire hour with him at the club on Thursday, or even when we said our goodbyes after that hour.
I was really happy after that night, because it had been awhile since I saw him. He was starting to e-mail me less frequently, and his messages were getting somewhat short and meaningless. He said he had been really busy with his job at the company, which is his primary job (he only works as a host two nights a week). I was starting to lose motivation to go to the club, wondering if I would get bored with him eventually, but decided that I would go to the club once more before the vacation was over. And when I got there, I was glad that I went, as usual. We made a lot of small talk, drank straight tea and had french fries. Usually I would go to the club somewhat early in the evening, like 5 or 6, but this time I arrived there at around 10 p.m., because I wanted to see what it was like being a little more crowded. Unlike the other nights, I didn’t talk to the other hosts that came to the table–in fact, only one came (whom I had met back in January) and stayed for about 15 minutes. The rest of my hour was just me and my host.
When we were talking, something about him seemed different, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. Actually, I had sensed something changing ever since he contacted me the day of the live I went to in late March. I don’t know how I sensed it, and I couldn’t figure out what it was. But after I left the club on Thursday night I was happy again. I really like my host, not as a boyfriend type or just because he gives me attention or just because he’s a host. I’m not sure what it is but I just got along with him well. He wasn’t the best or most flirtatious or even the most good-looking, but I liked him.
Yesterday I went out to Yokosuka and Yokohama with Kenisha. We were going on base so Kenisha could do some grocery shopping, and then to Yokohama to take pictures. I was still in a bit of a daze from the fun I had with my host. I was wondering when I would visit again, when he was going to e-mail me, etc. And then that’s when I found out that evening. He sent me an e-mail thanking me for yesterday and that he had something he had to say.
Now, the last time he told me he “had something he wanted to tell me,” it was just him being silly, trying to trick me into thinking he was going to confess his love to me, when actually he just wanted to tell me about the discount for the Valentine’s Day event. But this time, I knew it was something not along the lines of anything humorous, and that it was a little more serious. Thanks to my learning the context of Japanese phrases as well as the uses of various cell phone ’emoji’ (emoticons), I could tell this was not a joke, and I knew exactly what he was going to say. I wrote a reply telling him I had fun the night before and asked him what it was he needed to tell me. After sending my reply, I told Kenisha, who was looking for directions to the BOOK-OFF in Yokohama, “I bet he’s quitting,” by which I was semi-serious. But I was right after all.
We exchanged a few more messages that night, with him citing that he had been so busy that he felt he had no choice but to quit hosting, and that this month would probably be it. I told him that if he quit, I wasn’t going to the shop anymore. And I absolutely meant that. I meant it from the very beginning: I told myself that he is the only reason I go to the host club, and that if he ever left, I wouldn’t want to go back there. He wasn’t just a host or someone with whom to flirt, he was someone to talk to, someone with whom I shared common interests, and someone who wasn’t going to be fake and over-the-top in order to get in my wallet (as opposed to pants, I guess).
I was a little distraught over the news, but just ask Kenisha–I didn’t let that ruin my night. In fact, I’d have to try really hard to feel absolutely depressed and start bursting into tears. I made jokes with her about all this too. “He’s breaking up with me!!! And by e-mail!!! Why would he do this to me?!?!” and saying how I wasn’t going to be ready for another host yet, and pointing out all these constant reminders of him. I was laughing because in my e-mail I wanted to ask him, “Can we still be friends?” Instead I asked if he and I can still speak to each other, which he said was absolutely fine. I was hoping he wasn’t going to just cut me off just because I was a customer. Even so, I don’t know how sincere he was, and if we’d ever speak or meet again. That’s what usually happens…I lose contact with people with whom I really wanted to be friends.
I’m still a bit confused as to why he didn’t tell me earlier, and waited until after we met on Thursday. Kenisha guessed that it was because of the Japanese tendency to not want to have to explain things in person, and to avoid face-to-face confrontation. I thought that perhaps he didn’t want to make our last meeting awkward or depressing, since the host club is not supposed to be a place to cry, but to smile. Not that I would’ve cried right there in the club, but at least if I had known I would’ve cherished that hour even more.
When I think about it, perhaps he was giving me the tiniest little signals of his resignation, and I just didn’t think much about it. A few weeks ago he wrote in his blog that he had dyed his hair a little darker, to set an example for the new workers at his other job. When I went to the club on Thursday, he was a little more enthusiastic that night, and even a little flirtatious and always looking me directly in the eyes when he spoke. He gave me his new business card for when the host club changed their name, and said that was his last one (by which I thought he meant his ‘last one’ before he printed out more, not his last one altogether). When I showed him the purikura I took before coming to the club, I pointed out that I had a double of one of them (a little bit smaller than his business card) and cut it out, and he held out his hand for it before I even said I was giving it to him. He enthusiastically accepted it and put it in his business card case, replacing the last business card that was there. Then he talked about my classes starting on Monday and told me to do my best, and then said he was going to do his best at his other job. I didn’t think much of it at all.
So that’s it, I guess. I haven’t asked him when his last day would be. If I could, I’d go to see him once more, but I’m thinking that perhaps we should leave it at that. It was a short ride, but a wonderful experience. I did spend a lot of money in all, but honestly it was worth it. A lot of you might think I’m ridiculous, that I was wasting my time and money. And some of you are probably laughing at me, which is perfectly fine because I’ve been laughing at myself too, joking about how my host is dumping me. I’ve learned so much about life in general and about myself, knowledge so deep and so valuable that I don’t think a lot of people would understand if I tried to explain it to them.
So where do I go from here? I was originally planning to see my host right before I left Japan, but I had a feeling he wouldn’t make it all the way to July/August. There’s no more reason to visit the club, really. I did like some of the other hosts, but not nearly as much as my own. I’m not all that enthusiastic about going to a different club…it’s kind of like trying to jump into the dating scene after just breaking up with someone you cared about a lot. But you’re not going to see me crying in a corner about this. Please, I don’t have time for that.
On one hand I’m really going to miss my host, but another part of me is somewhat relieved. He’s better off devoting his time fully to his primary job, and it gives me more time to start diving into other things and focusing on school and potential careers (which I was going to do anyway once the semester started). In addition, because he’s no longer going to be a host, I wonder if that means I can interview him for my research. My plan from the very beginning of my project was to interview a former host, or at least someone who was going to be more honest than a current host. Although I imagine my host would have been honest with me from the start anyway, this would probably be better. I pray that I can keep contact with him for as long as possible.
With that said, I’m going to go wash my hair and get ready to go out. I’ll write another post about my visit to Yokohama and all of the photos I took.
In closing, this is the purikura I gave to my host:
He may not have had an ‘ace’ customer but at least he can say he had a gorgeous one 😉