True story: Bitching wars on the Tokyo subways


I used to commute by train to high school, one hour each way. Every morning, my girl friend Lara and I met on the Japan Railways platform at Ebisu, second car from the back, the one that pulls into Shinjuku station at exactly 7:32am. Sometimes Jesse (who’s now the hot shot lead singer of a popular J-rock bank called Rize) and some other kids a couple years younger than us rode with us too. Other times, it was just me and Lara left to our own devices in the midst of suited up businessmen and loose socks-wearing schoolgirls. That’s when the trouble started.

There were these three high school girls who rode our train who liked to glare at us and talk smack a little too loudly under their breath. “Look at those two, they’re just showing off by pretending to read English textbooks. They’re soooo stupid.”

To which we’d reply: “You’re just jealous because you’re UGLY.”

Sometimes we strategized on what to say the next day. Where to stand in the train so we could get the most dirt on them, without them getting to us first. The bitching escalated daily.

Then, one day, the Japanese school girls brought their boss. The queen bee, the top dog, the one who could wipe out our egos and shut our nagging mouths with one flap of her wings of dominance. For the half hour that we were stuck in each others’ presence, Queen Bee just observed, giving us a thorough inspection and taking mental notes in her evil brain. All the while, her entourage giggled and smirked and fiddled with their perfectly straight thick black hair.

By the time Lara and I got to school that morning, we were admittedly scared. Queen Bee was planning an attack, and it was certain to happen the next morning, on that same train, at the very same time. If we didn’t show up, we’d be admitting defeat. But if we showed up alone, there was no way would win. Bringing the younger boys, Jesse and his gang, wouldn’t help our cause either. It had to be girl on girl.

So we summoned the best weapon we had, and that was our friend Kayoko. The mother of all queen bees, protector of all souls in desperate need of someone tougher and braver to stand their ground for them. We explained the mess we’d gotten ourselves into, and asked her if she could take the train with us the next morning. Kayoko agreed. The war was officially on…and our enemies didn’t even know what was coming.

To be continued…

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