Semi-based on a true story
“I got you chocolate.”
“Why? It’s Valentine’s Day.”
“Uhh, because it’s Valentine’s day.”
The girl frowned, brow curling with the starting pangs of sudden confusion. He felt his own “Look at me being all grown up and buying chocolate for people on Valentine’s Day” grin beginning to subside.
“It is Valentine’s Day, right?”
He reached into the breast pocket of his suit to retrieve his cellphone. He liked to keep his phone there, he was an adult now, after all.
The Bossman cleared his throat and nodded towards an empty classroom. Without a word, he let the chocolate sit.
“First year in Japan, right?” the Bossman asked, shutting the door as he followed his bemused subordinate in.
“So you don’t know then.”
The Bossman took a swig of coffee from a paper cup. When he pulled it away his mustache was dripping.
The bossman paused, looked him over through thin barely there glasses.
“Better if you find out for yourself. I’m sure the staff’ll let you know what you need to know. Hell, they’ll enjoy it.”
Of course, explaining Japan’s various customs, rituals, and odd practices started by well-planned retail campaigning to the resident dumb gaijin seemed to be everyone’s favorite pastime here.
“Uh huh.” He always hated being explained to and hated the Bossman more for setting him up for it every time.
“Anyways, I was actually checking your file just the other day and it said you used to play football.”
“A little, I guess.” Small talk. He hated small talk. It was already what he did for a living. Make small talk in English. Make sure there were no horrible errors being made. Give the customer a nice list of new words to be digested, just to make sure they felt they were getting their money’s worth.
“What position?” The Bossman always kept his questions short and concise. Like he was teaching a class and the teachers under his supervision were his students.
“Oh. Linebacker. Right right.” The Bossman nodded in full acknowledgment even though He knew that the Kiwi probably hadn’t the faintest idea of what that position entailed. “Anyways, your next class assessment will probably be next month.”
“Right. Awesome. Is that all?” He got up, ready to show himself the door.
“Yeah. Let’s get a drink next time I come to town.” He had said the same thing the last five times he had made the rounds to this branch school and every time there had been no drinks.
“Can’t wait.” He let the door slam shut behind him.
The receptionist had been eagerly awaiting his return, no doubt anticipating the chance to tell the dumb foreign person more about how Japan worked. His chocolate gift sat unaccepted atop cheap plastic countertop.
He gave a resigned sigh and let her take command.
“Mister Stephen, boys don’t give chocolate until White Day.”
“Yes. Next month. Today is girls only.” The receptionist handed the unopened box of department store chocolate back to the dejected teacher.
“Oh right. Cool.” It wasn’t.
He ate the chocolate alone in his classroom before going home that night.