There are a proliferation of train track-side noodle stands – guarded by a ticket machine, shrouded by thin curtains and peopled by frantically slurping customers planted at rows of counters without any kind of chair for an extra quick dining experience. Suddenly, like bento, they are extremely appealing to me and I lately make it a point to enjoy a bowl of steaming soba or udon if I have time to kill between trains. Yesterday, Sean and I shared a lunch of soba at such an establishment nearby our old building, before he headed to work and I, free for the day, headed to the bookstore to find my copy of this month’s book club selection. I hunched, quietly, over my tempura soba, trying to slurp quickly since Sean had a 1:25 train to catch.
Suddenly, Sean announced: “I’m too big for this place.”
I looked. Indeed, the counter came up to Sean’s waist and the poor man was twisted, his elbows cemented to the wooden counter, trying to get a decent sip of broth.
“You,” he said. “You’re just grand in a place like this.”
I looked again. Like the two elderly men next to me, my solar plexus met the counter comfortably.
Even in Japan, it’s not often that I’m perfectly sized for anything. Clothes don’t fit properly due to my un-Japanese proportions, train straps dangle high above my head and even my apartments – owned by companies that cater to foreigners – have been sized for someone much larger. In fact, I’ve had to resort lately to pulling our dining table chair up to the high cabinet where Sean has cruelly placed the soba noodles and tea bags.
Thinking of this, I uttered the only suitable response:
It’s nice to be grand.