We certainly needed another 7-11. Sure, there’s already one two blocks down the street. And there’s a Family Mart two blocks the other way, and a Circle K two blocks back at the station. So I’m sure it’s as clear to you as it was to me why we needed another one. Apparently in Nagoya there are three things you can never have too many of: dentist offices, hair salons and convenient stores.
Our new 7-11 opened for business this week. As a testament to the industriousness of the construction industry in Nagoya, just over two months ago a family restaurant stood in the very same ground. The Gusto Restaurant closed its doors the first weekend of February, and within a week the disassembly began. First they carted out the grease covered kitchen appliances and torn vinyl booths, then they took the roof off and pulled the walls down in poofs of asbestos dust. The restaurant was gone in three weeks. Then some guys in suits and hard hats came around nodded, pointed and stood arms akimbo for a couple days. Finally the faux brick walls and plate glass of the 7-11 rolled in on trucks and was assembled on site like a giant life size plastic 7-11 model.
It was just hours after the last tab A was glued into slot B that the food (term used loosely) was loaded in and the uniforms handed out. The doors opened on April 26th, and people came from all around to see what the new 7-11 was like. The aisles were crowded with onlookers and convenience hunters. We went too, because naturally we wanted to see what the new 7-11 was like. Sure it was like all the other 7-11’s. But we had to see it for ourselves!
I guess it’s a symptom of age. With the opening of the new 7-11 I found myself concerned over the fate of the old 7-11. All those late nights (any night after 10 is late for me now) when we craved ice cream or orange juice or lemon chu-his – that old 7-11 took care of us. But now there was an alternative–a shiny new 7-11 with a bigger parking lot made of smoother asphalt just up the street. Who would bother with our old standby 7-11? I vowed to keep my business there, despite the temptations of the that sparkling new sign visible from the old 7-11 parking lot. Because with all the change in the world loyalty to something–even a 7-11–feels like the right thing to do.
I guess it’s prophetic really. With global warming on its way it will be only a matter of years before the seasons change daily. And when it happens Restaurant Koyomi won’t need a new sign. The rest of this sign though is still a mystery to me. I have never actually enveloped myself in a great love of life, but it sounds like a good idea–especially when traveling… or during global warming. Might be a way to keep cool.
I ate in this restaurant. I found it at a service area on the expressway between Gamagori and Nagoya. I was not offered a special table, but I guess “special” is really a subjective word, so maybe I just wasn’t the target audience. Still for me the table was pretty much like any other table… except the chairs didn’t move. Like McDonalds tables. So I guess it was like any other McDonalds table. Maybe that’s what made it special.
Still somehow, without me noticing….the comfort must’ve embellished the calendar of memories on my heart. I do remember a few things. I remember the waitress enjoyed her job more than she was likely to enjoy a root canal. And that was nice. I remember that I had to put away my own dishes, which made me feel needed. I had Ramen noodles. They were pretty good. Stayed with me for the ride home and hours beyond that. Almost lost them a couple times but, like the memories, I held them in. The next day I felt better.
It could’ve as easily been invented in the U.S. The conversation might’ve gone something like this. Two backyard chefs, spatulas in hand and spare tires around the waist, stand in front of the BBQ on a hot Texas afternoon:
What the hell good is charcoal after ya done used it?
I’m gonna tell ya what good it is Hank, cause you ain’t got
the smarts ta’ figger it out yourself!
Alright then, why don’t ya flip them patties ‘stead ‘a wastin’ a man’s time?
Don’t matter if I flip them patties Hank. Cause we gonna be rich. We gonna
buy the whole cow.
Uh-huh. Howz that?
Shampoo you dunderhead. We gonna turn this charcoal into
salon grade shampoo.
Why don’t you flip them burgers, Mitch.
Not ‘less you get me another cold’un. And this time use a koozie fo’ Gossake.
If Hank would’ve listened to Mitch the United States, not Japan, would control the charcoal shampoo market. But life is full of missed opportunities, and as it happened, the vision of turning charred wood into hair care products belongs exclusively to Japan.
I bought some. It’s cool washing your hair with black stuff. Never mind the carcinogens. In fact I’ve heard it’s actually quite good for your hair. I remember when I was a kid there was a beer shampoo craze. Not sure why this tie in with barbeques and hair care, but following this line of reasoning my guess for the next movement will be Lawry’s seasoning cream rinse. Lighter fluid mousse would be a hit at parties too.