I laughed. His name was Mr. Giggles and he was the happiest sixty-eight year old I had ever met in my life.
“You should buy a t-shirt that says I love liquor and wear it around,” I said to him jokingly.
He threw back his head and roared with laughter. “I love Westerners because I love spaghetti and hamburgers. Just ask him,” he said, pointing to his red-faced colleague who was freckled with large age spots, who we called Mr. Toad.
“It’s true. He doesn’t even like sushi,” Mr. Toad said, nodding soberly. “He made me go to an Italian restaurant for pizza tonight.”
“What? You don’t like sushi?” I asked Mr. Giggles.
“No!” Mr. Giggles exclaimed, bursting into fit of new titters. “Hey, look at this!” he urged, pulling out his wallet and producing a train pass with a picture of what looked like an exotic pink flowering plant.
“Wow, that’s a beautiful flower,” I said, admiring the picture. “Is it a Japanese plant?”
“It’s a four-headed penis of an echidna,” he explained, beginning to chuckle again.
“What’s an echidna?”
“It’s a spiny anteater.”
“That is printed on your Japanese train pass?” I asked, surprised.
“Yes, in Kyushu, where I’m from,” he replied. “Look at this,” he urged, pulling out a small black-and-white photograph from his wallet. “It’s me.”
Staring back at me from the picture was the most attractive Japanese man I had ever seen.
“This is you?” I asked, smiling. “You look very handsome in this picture.”
“Yes, yes, I was cherry boy in this picture. Cherry boy is virgin.”
“Yes, I think I’ve heard that one before,” I replied, laughing. “Wow, it’s cold in this room,” I commented. “Don’t you think so?”
“How do you say a little cold in English?” he asked. “Chilly? Cherry? I am cherry boy!”
‘You should be careful of strange old men in foreign countries,’ Mr. Toad suddenly injected, looking as sober as judge. “Not me or Mr. Giggles though, we are safety.”