“This isn’t a love hotel!”
Pity young lovers. Can’t a man and a woman enjoy each other without courting public censure? Well, yes, they can – by enjoying each other out of the public eye. But passion takes us unawares in the damnedest times and places – at work, on trains, in department store fitting rooms, in classrooms – and so what can you do? Resist in the name of decorum? There is that option, and Josei Seven (Dec 18) clearly favors it, but decorum, it admits, is fighting a losing battle.
A woman we’ll call Akiko works – worked, rather – part-time at a supermarket. It irritated her that a fellow part-timer was often absent, forcing others to pick up her slack, without ever drawing a reprimand from the store manager. One afternoon Akiko, who is in her 40s, went to the stockroom to replenish the shelves, and saw, to her astonishment, the manager and the other part-timer, locked in a passionate embrace behind a mountain of stock. They didn’t see her, and she left without saying anything, but it rankled, until finally she went up to the manager and said, “I saw you! This is a workplace! What do you mean by carrying on in that manner?”
The manager caved in. He got down on his knees. He begged forgiveness. “Please, don’t tell anyone.”
Akiko promised not to. The manager has a wife and kids. She felt sorry for them. But, she tells Josei Seven, “I don’t want to work in a place like that. I quit.”
Sex is everywhere! Last month, in a “scoop” covered in a previous Kuchikomi, Shukan Post magazine found it in neighborhood koban police stations among on- and off-duty officers. Inspired by that story, and also by an incident that occurred two years ago in an Osaka elementary school classroom involving two teachers (who were pressured into resigning), Josei Seven launched its own investigation, which only confirmed it in its view that Eros is getting out of hand.
“Michiko” is in her 60s. Traveling by shinkansen from Tokyo to Osaka, she went to the toilet but found it occupied. She returned later. Still occupied. At that point she heard a woman cry out as though in pain. Alarmed, Michiko asked through the door, “Are you all right?” The woman assured her she was, and shortly afterwards Michiko saw the couple emerge. Feeling she’d been made a fool of, she indignantly reported the incident to the conductor, who gave the couple a stern talking-to. Red-faced, the couple apologized profusely, and the matter ended there – for them. For society as a whole, the tension between desire and restraint probably never will end.
“There is a growing indifference to other people nowadays,” says psychologist Masao Usui. “It doesn’t seem to matter any more that other people may be watching. You see couples lately kissing while stopped at red lights, without any sense of doing anything wrong.”
“Chieko” works in a department store. She was pleased to see a customer enter a fitting room one day with an armload of clothes to try on: “She’ll surely buy something.” The young woman’s husband joined her. “That’s nice,” Chieko thought – but time passed, and it was plain the intimacy had progressed beyond wardrobe selection. At last Chieko, her patience strained, called out, “Is there anything I can help you with?” The couple emerged, disheveled and out of breath but, report Chieko, quite unembarrassed.
Why don’t they do it at home or at a love hotel? the reader naturally wonders. It’s a good question. There must be reasons.© Japan Today