Not long after Kenya and I started dating, my interactions with Zaizen became the short and subdued conversations that they were at the beginning of the semester. I would walk into homeroom and wave at him; he would wave back, his ears plugged up with something for (what I assumed to be) Costello Music. On occasion we had conversations during gym class that involved his mom being rich, but other than that, we rarely spoke.
I felt bad about how things had become between us given that Zaizen had given Kenya and I the chance to properly acquaint ourselves with one another. Despite his sloth-like tendencies and how otherwise terrible he was as a friend and seatmate, I felt as though I owed him something. When I brought this up with Kenya after school, he agreed that Zaizen should be handsomely paid for his efforts. I mean, it wasn't like Zaizen had to go out of his way to arrange a conspicuous "friendly date"—even though part of me was inclined to believe that he got a kick out of watching Kenya squirm and me fail at sleuthing.
"So what do you think we should do?" Kenya asked, turning his attention away from his beloved iguana to have a conversation with me.
I was sitting at his desk, rocking back and forth on his chair and looking thoughtfully into space. "It's not that I'm on bad terms with him or anything. I just feel like... like I'm not very good friends with him—which is weird, given how much he ended up helping us."
Kenya frowned, reluctant to admit that Zaizen had a heart. "... Yeah."
There was a somber pause.
Then an idea struck me. "You could ask him."
"Who—me?" He looked at me like I was crazy.
"Yeah, you two are good friends, right?"
"... Are we?"
"Well, he's your precious kouhai, right?"
He sighed. "You know, if you want to become better friends with him, you should follow his blog. I think he would really appreciate it, and you'd be able to find out more about him without being all weird and confrontational about it."
I mulled the thought over. "His blog, huh? I never thought about that."
Kenya shrugged obligingly. "You could try it and see what happens."
"Yeah." I said, slowly warming to the idea. "Yeah, I think I'll do that. Thanks, Kenya-san."
He leaned over and offered his cheek up for a kiss of gratitude. I obliged with a peck, and he cracked a grin of sunshine and moonbeams. Sometimes, I think Kenya forgot that it was within his liberty to ask for a kiss whenever he wanted.
- x -
Though the internet and I still had a tense relationship for the last joke it tried to pull on me, I opened up Chrome later that night to find and stake out Zaizen's blog. I found after a good twenty minutes of scrolling that most of his posts were about food, music, funny things that happened to him on a daily basis, and extensive coverage on my attempts at playing Sherlock Holmes. I spent the majority of those twenty minutes cringing.
I created an account on the blogging platform Zaizen was using for the sole intent of following his blog. I was surprised to find that he had a solid number of followers already—something that surprised me, in light of Zaizen's personality. Later, I found out from Kenya that most of his followers had come from a video that Zaizen had posted five years ago of Kenya twirling a pen at lightning speed.
The day after I followed Zaizen's blog, I walked into the classroom to find him slumped in his chair, resting his chin on folded arms and staring morosely at the blackboard. He wasn't listening to any music, which caused me such grave concern that I didn't think to wave good morning to him before he managed to do it to me.
When I sat down next to him, I said "You're acting unusual today, Zaizen."
"And you followed my blog, ."
I frowned. "How did you know it was me?"
"You only use the handle nikoche for every website ever." He said. "So why did you follow me?"
"Kenya told me you post lots of our conversations. I just wanted to monitor them."
"I bet there's an ulterior motive."
"That is the ulterior motive."
"I bet there's an ulterior motive."
It took a lot of self-restraint to stop my twitching eye from giving the game away. "Go back to listening to Costello Music, Zaizen."
"There's a reason you followed me."
"Seriously, I told you what it was."
"I'm going to find out what it is."
I stifled a sigh in favor of making a hapless joke. "I can lend you my fedora if you wanna sleuth-out."
Zaizen said he didn't need one—his mom's money could bring him more of a reputation than my fedora ever could.
- x -
Though I would never say it to his face, following Zaizen's blog came with merits. I found myself legitimately entertained by his content and managed to spend hours scrolling through his posts. I had two favorite segments: the first was In The Mood—a music review segment. I assumed the title was a reference to The Andrews Sisters, since he started off every post with the same infamous line: "You were only hungry for some musical food; you're positively, absolutely... In The Mood." The second segment I enjoyed was Zaizen's food segment, which he uncreatively titled In The Food. Every picture he posted looked divine and never failed to make me hungry.
That week, I was waiting for him to make the next In The Mood post, since he'd promised in his entry last week that he would feature Costello Music, and I would finally be able to find out what it was about the song Chelsea Dagger that had him listening to it every single day. When I got a notification about the update on his blog, I was expecting a post full of praise for The Fratellis. Instead, Zaizen posted this:
In The Mood: "I have a confession, Chelsea."
Posted by zenzai on Friday 12/9, 2014.
You were only hungry for some musical food—
You're positively, absolutely... In The Mood.
In last week's post, I said that I would feature Costello Music,
the infamous album by The Fratellis. But I believe that you all
misinterpreted me: I never said I would do a song review.
Instead, I have a rather heartbreaking confession to make.
Brace yourselves; I myself feel a tear or two coming on.
I've never owned a legal copy of Costello Music.
Kenya called me a good hour later, after his train in Tokyo arrived back to Osaka. When I picked up, he greeted me with a tense, "Did you see Zaizen's blog post?"
"Yeah." I said, a little wound down. "It hurt a little to hear him say that. He really loves that album."
"Yeah." He agreed in a grave voice. "Are you free tomorrow?"
"I'm not doing anything." I said, as if it were anything new. "You wanna go shopping for Costello Music?"
"Perfect. We can meet up with Zaizen for lunch at Bounce."
Kenya agreed to pick me up from my house at ten. We talked until he made it upstairs to his room, at which point he decided to retire for the night. He was exhausted after spending the whole day with his cousin, and he hadn't managed to squeeze a nap in on the train ride (he never slept well on moving transport).
"Okay." I said, laughing. "Nighty-night, Kenya-san."
And then he hung up.
- x -
We set out early the next morning for the hipster music store that Zaizen occasionally dragged me to after school. After taking a bit of a gander through the aisles, we found Costello Music in the back of the store, price tag and all.
"Four thousand yen?" Kenya echoed in disbelief.
"Now I know why he never wanted to buy it legally." I commented. "This is like a week's worth of food."
"Maybe he knew that we would buy it for him eventually." Kenya reasoned. He folded his jacket to form a very large, deformed fedora and put it on his head. "Maybe this was his plan all along—to set us up so that we would buy the CD for him."
I didn't have a fedora, so I just pretended to stroke my invisible beard when I gave my counter argument. "That seems like a really elaborate set-up. Zaizen doesn't use elaborate set-ups to prank me—I guess he thinks I'm too simple."
Kenya patted my head reassuringly. "Maybe it was a set up to prank me."
At first I was reluctant to splash out four thousand yen on one CD for Zaizen of all people, but when Kenya offered to go halfsies on it, the prospect wasn't so bad. We left the shop with our wallets much lighter (Kenya's, in fact, was completely empty) and made for Bounce. As expected, we arrived much earlier than Zaizen, and we were halfway through our collective strawberry milkshake by the time Zaizen walked in, located us, and joined us at our window booth.
"If this isn't your treat, I'm going back home." He said, sitting down.
Kenya and I exchanged a glance.
"We're not treating—"
Zaizen stood up.
"—but we actually have something else that we want to give you." I said.
He looked at us suspiciously.
Kenya motioned for him to sit back down, and he did.
When Zaizen was comfortably seated, I cleared my throat uncomfortably and extended a plastic bag bearing the label of his favorite CD shop on the front of it. "Here—this is from the both of us."
At first, he was (understandably) very skeptical. "You should have come up with a better prank."
Kenya frowned. "We wouldn't stoop as low as you."
"It's very simple, Zaizen." I said, rustling the bag in front of him. "Just reach into the bag and pull out the contents."
Zaizen reached into the bag and pulled out a Tokyo Banana.
"Oh." Kenya said. "That's from Tokyo. I went to visit my cousin just yesterday."
"Try again." I said.
Zaizen reached into the bag and pulled out Costello Music.
For a long time, he was very quiet. At first he looked like he was trying very hard to determine whether we were playing a prank on him, and when he finally saw that we were completely one-hundred percent sincere, he just looked around at everyone in the shopping to no one in particular, "Reactions, please?"
"No—that joke expired months ago." I said, trying to hold back a cringe. "It had its Golden Age—actually, that's a lie. It never even had a Copper Age. Let it die."
Zaizen ignored me and held up the CD to the light, as if checking for signs of counterfeit. "What is this for? It's not a prank."
"No, Zaizen, it's not a prank." I agreed. "It's a thank you gift."
Even though we didn't treat him to burgers, Zaizen stayed for a little while longer. He spent almost an hour carefully examining the CD, never letting his fingers touch one spot for longer than a few seconds—as if his touch would melt the plastic. He never said thank you, and his face never showed any signs of gratitude—but he seemed a little brighter.
After we left the store, Zaizen went back home, almost getting hit by a car in the process as he tried to cross the street, his eyes glued to the front cover of the case. Halfway on the ride back home, Kenya said thoughtfully, "I've never seen Zaizen look so happy before."
After I'd eaten dinner with my family and taken a shower, Zaizen made another post on his blog. Even though Saturdays were usually his In The Food day, I found a surprise waiting for me:
In The Mood: "I have a confession, Chelsea / Part Two."
Posted by zenzai on Saturday 13/9, 2014.
I hope you enjoyed my wind-up yesterday, everyone.
Many bewildered comments and two phone calls from the NPA later,
I'd like to let everyone know that I was only kidding: I, of course,
own Costello Music legally.
For those of you who don't believe me, here is a photo of Costello Music next
to a half-eaten Tokyo Banana. Reactions, please?
Sure enough, Zaizen had posted a picture of Costello Music (which had been removed from its plastic wrapping) sitting next to a half-eaten Tokyo Banana. Even though he was due for a punch in the face for over-using a five-month-old punchline, I couldn't help but smile as I proceeded to read over the long review he made of his favorite album.
As per usual, Kenya called me just before eleven for a pre-sleep chat. "Did you read Zaizen's post?"
"Yeah." I said, unable to hide how chuffed I'd been reading it. "Though, I can't believe he liked Chelsea Dagger just because he thought the name was appealing. Isn't that the worst reason to like a song?"
"His favorite movie is Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain because it's in French."
"He doesn't even speak French. That's so..." I fought to find the right words. "Zaizen."
"Yeah." Kenya agreed. "He'll never say it to your face, but I think you've made him a very happy person."
"We." I corrected him. I didn't have to be in the same room as him to know that he was grinning. "I hope it did make him happy, though. We don't have the money to make him any happier."
"That's true." Kenya said, probably frowning. "But we did a good thing."
"Yeah, we did. I'm proud of us, Kenya-san."
"I'm proud of us too, ."
I smiled into the receiver.
"Well, I'm going to sleep now." He said. "I'll see you tomorrow."
"Okay. Love you, Kenya-san."
"Love you, ."
And then he hung up.
Friday 12/9, 2014: I just thought I'd bring up this fun fact in case it caused any confusion. In Australia, we usually write our dates DD/MM/YY; whereas in American they tend to write them as MM/DD/YY. So, in Australia 12/9 would be September 12; whereas in America, it would be December 9. I just thought I'd clear up that this date means September 12, not December 9 LOL.
Four thousand yen: Based on the current exchange rate (21/6/16), ¥4000 is about AUD$51, USD$38, 34 or ₣26.
NPA: The NPA is the National Policy Agency of Japan, which is kind-of-sort-of-not-really the equivalent of the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) in the US or the AFP (Australian Federal Police) in Australia. I was originally going to use the FBI, but I don't know how well the joke translates LOL. I don't even think the NPA would care about pirated music in favor of like... idk catching criminals or something HAHA. But lbr the humor is so bad in the RP series that you should just be crying because the jokes are awful.
ribbon! I'm sorry for forcing you all to relive the pain of the RP series. I'm also sorry we've been gone for so long. I'm also sorry that it is with this extra (of all things) that we made it known to you that we're not dead yet. Please don't hate us too much :'(
princo! I have to be up in 6 hours and in the past two days I've slept 8 hours, but that's fine because my lost hours were spent crocheting and working on F-T; and nothing could make me happier than those two things. I'm taking 15 units this summer and we only have 10 people in my work department right now, so sorry I won't really be doing much. Hope all you lovelies don't need to take summer courses. Sincerely hope I'll be writing in a different novel's notes soon. </3
June 22, 2016.