Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pulled From the Pages: My Pocky Addiction

June 12th

Today I’m finally admitting the truthI am officially addicted to Pockys. I have to thank (or murder) my host sister Ami for my daily habit. The whole thing began innocently enough.

“Hey Ami, what are those things in the red box I always see you eating. Can I try one?”

She clutched the box defensively. “What, these?”

I had to laugh when I read the name of the candy, Pocky. Janglish strikes again. Leave it to the Japanese to use English words in amusing ways. Of course what else would you call a stick shaped chocolate covered biscuit. 

“Uh uh. They must be really good. I see you eating them all the time.”

Her face turned red. “Not all the time.”

I couldn’t believe she still hadn’t forked one over. “Right.” I moved next to hermy eyes locked on the box. I held my hand out. “Can I have one? You know how much I love anything chocolate.”

She nodded her head. Maybe that was the problemshe thought I was going to eat the whole box. “I promise, only one.”

Ami tilted back the lid and pulled out one of the candies holding it like a cigarette. I bit into the stick surprised at the crunch. The inside was like a pretzel. The chocolate and the pretzel mingled in my mouth sending me to Heaven. “Umm, these are really good.”

One Pocky would definitely not be enough. I ran my tongue around the inside of my mouth making sure to catch all the chocolaty goodness and stared at the box in Amy’s hands. 

She backed away from me once again clutching her box of Pockys. “Glad you enjoyed the candy.” She inched closer toward the stairs. “I have to go study now.”

Bolting up the stairs to her bedroom she slammed the door. At first I couldn’t understand her reaction but as the chocolate lingered in my mouth, I realized the Japanese had once again invented something that was habit forming. Anime, Karaoke, video games, and Hello Kitty were totally addictive. So why not add candy to the list? Pockys are the ultimate treat for the orally fixated person with a sweet tooth. Me. 

I’d thrown my pen chewing over for Pockys in a hot minute. The next day I ran out and bought a ten pack. I couldn’t wait to try the other wonderful flavors, mint, dark chocolate, and coconut. Pockys soon became my constant companion. My friends at school took notice. Especially Michelle.        

“I can’t believe you could get hooked on a chocolate covered stick. What are you up to? A box a day?”

I tossed the candy in my purse. “You make me sound like an addict.”

“Well, aren’t you?”

“Okay, so they’re a bit of a guilty pleasure.”

“You mean like sex?”

Leave it to a Catholic girl to come up with a line like that.

“They call Pockys a satisfying treat for a reason.” 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Pulled From the Pages: My Love Affair With A Table!

Anyone who has ever been to Tokyo in January and February knows just how cold it can be. This pulled from the pages post is how I learned that a table can change your life.
February 5th

Just my luck I’d been given a host family that lives in a traditional Japanese house. The lack of central heat didn’t bother me when I first arrived in late August with the temperature through the roof. But now in the dead of winter, the fact that there was no central heat had me wearing my winter clothes inside the house—including my overcoat!   

My host family totally used to a freezing house, couldn’t understand why I was wearing so many layers. They strolled around in sweats. The most they did for me after repeated complaints about the cold was break down and give me an electric blanket so at least I could get some sleep. Then a huge cold snap hit and something new turned up in the living room. It looked like a coffee table with a quilt draped over the frame with a table top resting over it.  

I walked over to my host sister and pointed to the table. “Ami what is that?”

A puzzled look crossed her face as she looked around and couldn’t figure out what I was pointing at. “What? Everything is the same.”

I sat down next to the shrouded table. “No. Where did this come from?”

The puzzled look left her face. “Oh. The table is a kotatsu.”

I held back the urge to strangle her.  She just assumed I knew what she was talking about. “Okay. So what’s it for?”

“The table has a heater  and you sit under the quilt to get warm.”

Furious that they had a heater while I’ve been freezing I said, “You’ve had this the whole time I’ve complained about being cold?”

“Yes. But the weather has been quite pleasant until yesterday.”

This statement confirmed what I thought all a long—the family had ice in their veins. “Right. Can you show me how the table works?”

Ami went over and plugged in the heater. After the stench of burning dust cleared the air, she sat down and put her legs under the table. Then she pulled the comforter over her lap. “This is how you use the kotatsu. Be careful not to burn your legs. Keep away from the middle of the table.”

I dove under the comforter and let the heat penetrate my clothes. For the first time I was actually warm in the living room. I moved my legs dangerously close to the heater to get extra toasty. “Wow, this feels great.”    

Ami rolled her eyes. “I don’t see what’s the big deal. It’s just a heater.”

Exactly, I thought. A heater we could have been using for the last month!

That night my budding love affair with the kotatsu began. The table was everything you wanted in a boyfriend. It snuggled up to me and kept me warm. Over the next couple of weeks we grew almost inseparable. The family worried about our closeness. We were dating big time.

One night my host mother came over and sat down next to me. “Anne, since the weather is much warmer now we are putting the kotatsu away.”

I clutched the table leg as my host mother pulled the comforter off the frame. “But I’m still freezing. You can’t take Kris away.”

Yes, I had to admit things had become a bit too hot and heavy. I’d given my table lover a name.