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Saturday, April 17, 2010
WHEN EAST MARRIES WEST
How I lost my wife to the B-Boys
I suppose it had to happen some day. I am a regular sort of joe and my wife is a honey. I couldn't tie her down forever; I should have known.
"I'm sorry," she tells me. "But there's just no denying true love."
What makes it worse is the source of her newfound affections. My wife of 30 years is now in love with . . . (Oh I can barely bring myself to type it!) . . . the Backstreet Boys.
Not that she's ever met them. No, hers is love from afar. I only wish it could be farther.
For our house now shivers to their music. A sure sign of unhealthy infection. And I can't help wondering how such a foul turn could strike me now, with my so-called golden years almost rimming on the horizon.
I mean, I've been good — relatively. I've always carried scissors point down, have never lifted a cat by its tail and so on. I floss too. What have I done to deserve this?
For my wife — at her age — to fall for The Backstreet Boys is sort of like . . . like . . .
Mother Teresa spurning Kolkata for Beverly Hills. Or like Ronald MacDonald switching to Wendy's. Or like Lassie biting off Timmy's face.
Such things aren't supposed to happen. Not in a fair and just world. I mean, am I not guaranteed a happy ending? Who wrote this script?
I suppose I should be thankful this didn't happen before. The Backstreet Boys have been around forever. Long enough to have fathered boy bands of their own.
And maybe it was my own boy, my older son, who kept them out of our house at first. I can recall him gazing up with innocent, grade-school eyes and calmly announcing . . .
"If you ever play the Backstreet Boys — even one song — I'm gonna run off and live with wolves."
Never have I been so proud. And not only me. From somewhere — perhaps my shelf of CDs in the corner — Bob Dylan, Bob Seger, Eric Clapton and others were nodding with approval.
My wife at the time didn't care. Her knowledge of English music started and stopped with The Beatles, spiced by a few Carpenters tunes, although for a while she did suffocate the house with Air Supply.
Yet that was but a passing fancy. Meanwhile the Backstreet Boys have gone platinum in only months. This after she discovered them on a Japanese TV show last fall.
"Aargh!" I heard her scream. "Come quick! Hurry!"
So I dove down the stairs and jackknifed into the living room, expecting to find her in battle with ninja, or something similarly despicable.
Only it was worse than I'd imagined. There on our TV screen danced the Backstreet Boys. They seemed to be strangling in unison — to music.
"Oh!" My wife squealed. "I'm in love! I'm in love!"
Now I knew how the dinosaurs felt when they glanced up and saw that meteor. Disaster had arrived and there was no place to run.
Even my quality-minded son had grown up and moved away. I had no protection. All I could do was brace myself for the inevitable . . .
"Ne . . . Take me to their concert."
Me? At a Backstreet Boys' concert?
In that instant my hair turned white — or it would have if I had any. But . . . there was a precedent.
Early in our marriage, my wife had drooled over a skinny Japanese crooner named Masashi Sada. These days he's gained weight and she's lost interest, but in those days she was so fixated that as the dutiful husband I finally bit the bullet and took her to his concert.
I can still recall the bitter taste of lead. Because I did it twice.
As a foreigner, it's one thing to feel the force of everyone's eyes. Yet it's another thing to be the only male in an audience of several thousand housewives. All of them nuts. You cannot believe the pressure to conform.
Thank goodness Masashi Sada doesn't dance, for then the fervor of the crowd might have driven me to the dark side. Even as it was I didn't blink for two weeks straight, on either occasion.
At least I survived. But with the Backstreet Boys, how would I have a chance?
She smiles and says, " 'As long as you love me,' 'I'll never break your heart.' 'I want it that way.' "
Nice to hear . . . if it wasn't a list of song titles. Their song titles.
Yet I do what good husbands always do. I cave in.
"OK. Sure. For you . . . " and I hug her. "Anything."
Realizing what she did not. That their recent tour of Japan had finished.
Of course, they are bound to come again.
But by then . . . who knows . . . Maybe she'll forget. Or maybe they'll quit singing and go join the circus. And then be eaten by bears.
Or . . . maybe I'll come to like them.
After all, love is unpredictable. We regular joes can all attest to that.