i’m drinking dos equis in a mexican restaurant on top of a building. we’re in tokyo’s fixed gear district which may just mean we’re in the fixiest of all fixed gear districts across the world. a chandelier modeled after some mythical mayan serpent covered with feathers snakes down in enormous spirals from the ceiling. the restaurant is aptly named hacienda del cielo, when i look out the window our table sits pressed against, i can see part of this enormous city sprawling and unfolding out upon itself into the darkness.
a man at a long table in the center of the dimly lit room wears a tall hat with a feather in it. his companions think it either ridiculous or ridiculously cool because they keep yanking it from each other’s heads and setting it on their own. skinny japanese girls walk to the bathroom wearing skirts and native american themed animal shirts that my old art majoring college roommate would have salivated over. both young men and old men wear tailored suits and matching ties, you can just tell they’re expensive. as is usually the case in this country i feel extremely underdressed and out of my element, but i shake my head, shrug it off, and order another beer.
i’ve tried to come here for ages, dorothy says, it’s always booked. friday night, 10pm, it’s no different. the place is packed, people crowd every aisle with extra chairs around extra tables, pushed against the walls, crammed into the bar. we eat, we drink, we pay, we leave. men and women wearing white uniforms in the stainless steel kitchen duck under the hanging pans and say thank you for coming in three different languages on our way to the elevator. we step inside, go down, and return to the street.
at a bar called xex it’s revealed that some of the girls have never seen dumb and dumber. i don’t know how it comes up, but that it does means we’ve been drinking for a while. this place is small and dark, a band plays in the back but i can’t see them. there are blankets on the backs of chairs to put on over your lap and a man lays spread out on a booth next to us with a towel over his face and an empty glass in his hand. for unexplainable reasons, a large cone of ice sits atop the bar in front of two very large men dressed in very large suits, and that’s it. that’s where dumb and dumber comes up. i tell mika i’ll give her 100 yen if she sticks her tongue to the ice. i’m betting it’ll stick, and someone calls to the collective mind when jeff bridges sticks his tongue onto the pole of the chair lift from the movie.
we laugh and more drinks come. vanessa asks if a singapore sling is supposed to taste like a sling and i say only in singapore. the man sets his glass on the table and rises unsteadily from the booth. he walks into another room and disappears from sight. a couple walks in from the cold and drape blankets over their shoulders in the corner, huddle together in a singularity that only two who have known each for a long time can form. i talk about spain and learn about japan, listen to what it is to live in this city. when the five of us step into an elevator to leave and an elbow or an ass accidentally presses the button to open the door as it’s about to close, a waiter seeing us out, dressed in black, bowing ninety degrees to the floor lifts his head confused. but, he does not break his bow until, presumably, after the doors close and he rights himself to walk away. the girls laugh at the awkwardness on the way down.
the movie store doesn’t have dumb and dumber, they say on the phone, does it have a different title in japanese maybe? i don’t know, and nobody else does, so they bring home another equally as stupid movie. hot chocolate made with milk and something spicy is passed around and we sit, in this immaculate roppongi apartment, on the floor and on the couch, leaning into each other, drinking and falling asleep in the hours of early morning.