Summary of events Thursday – Friday, April 7-8, 2011
Listen while you read to “What Happened?”, an unpublished Panache piece that may or may not end up on the Victory Speech album.
What happened last night was just so off-the-scale ridiculous that I had to write it down…..
Background: Ever since the massive earthquake and tsunami and damage to the reactors at the Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant in the Tohoku region of Japan that occurred on March 11, 2011, Chi has been very distressed. It doesn’t help that he has been spending every day that he is home (fortunately he has been working fairly regularly as an actor recently!) glued to the TV and trawling the internet ruminating on all the hysterical, sensationalistic headlines (designed to garner page views to generate advertising dollars rather than inform the public about what is actually happening) prophesying a nuclear apocalypse of unimaginable proportions and the imminent end to the world as we know it. Needless to say, that has been driving me crackers, but I’ve been trying to give him an extra degree of sympathy and forgiveness in light of the circumstances.
Soooooo….he decided that since the end of the world was nigh, he had to go see his country one last time and take his deceased father’s ashes to a lake (I think it might have been in Nagano Prefecture, but we can’t remember the name of the lake where we scattered his mother’s ashes a few years ago), and made plans to fly to Tokyo for the weekend. This was dropped on me when I came home for lunch Wednesday afternoon, so my lunch break got hijacked by having to make a bunch of phone calls to confirm that he was not booked for an acting job Thursday through the following Tuesday, cancel a Panache show on Sunday, and a few other things.
Back to yesterday:
He called me at least five times Thursday morning demanding that I procure for him a bunch of N100 dust masks to protect him from the radioactive fallout he believed Tokyo to be seething with, which hijacked much of my morning while at work, but thankfully a colleague assisted me in procuring a few of those masks to calm him down by the placebo effect since they would not be useful for his intended purpose if there actually were a dangerous level of radioactive isotopes present where he was going.
He had also begun panic buying and hoarding food recently, believing that the entire ocean was now horrifically contaminated and it would never be safe to eat seafood ever again, so the other day he’d gone to the Japanese market in Torrance and bought over $100 worth of unaffordably high grade maguro sashimi (for reference, that translated into a volume of less than six cubic inches, and to break it down further, we normally consume around 2 cubic inches in one sitting) that he carefully wrapped up and placed in the freezer.
On Thursday evening he had a slice of that awesome sashimi defrosted and ready for appetizers, and then we put the steak that had been moved from the freezer to the refrigerator that afternoon to defrost for dinner into the microwave to expedite the defrosting process (the microwave is a room-temperature place that is inaccessible to the Panache Cats, and did our nightly Panache rehearsal. He then went to his room to do more emailing and prep for his trip, said he wanted to spend some time together later, and told me to go do whatever I wanted to for now.
I was in my home office working away, still full from the especially rich appetizers, when he thumped on the door, came in and started bitching me out for not coming to spend time with him on the night before he was to leave, and his plane could crash, and we might never see each other again, and I don’t seem to have any regret about it at all, yada-yada…. WTF?????????!!
That was probably around 10:00 PM or thereabouts, so I asked him what he wanted to do. He said that was my problem to figure out. As exhausted and sleep deprived as I was, I did not have the energy or the will to try to figure out whatever the hell he assumed I was supposed to know that he wanted to do with me on what he thought might be his last night on earth, and unable to make any progress toward a resolution after a couple more attempts, gave up and went back in my office to work a little longer. He thumped on the door again and came in and bitched at me some more because the steak was still frozen.
Brenda: Ooooookaaaaayyyyyyyyyyy……”So what do you want to do?”
Chi: “I don’t know!” he yelled.
Brenda: “What time do you want to have dinner?”
Chi: “Whenever the steak is thawed!” Still yelling
Brenda: “Well, what if that is four o’clock in the morning? I am very tired and want to go to bed soon.” (it was around 11 PM by that point)
Chi: (getting more hysterical and incoherent – I don’t even remember what he said, if I even understood it in the first place).
Brenda: “Very well then, I am going to go to bed.”
I dithered for a moment over whether to put the steak back in the freezer, and decided to leave it in the microwave in case he wanted to eat it later on since he has a long-standing mindless habit of staying up really late getting stupid-drunk, smoking dope and watching music videos, or more recently, the 24/7 coverage of the ongoing disaster in Japan. I was simply out of energy and really looking forward to my 48 hours of peace and quiet and freedom from his constant trauma-drama and chaos, so did my before-bed bathroom ritual and hit the sack.
Just as I was drifting off to sleep with Jaco curled up at my right side and Pink next to my left knee, the bedroom door suddenly burst open and Chi started screaming at me and threw something at my head, but missed so it thudded against the window and fell on the floor behind the bed. The cats leaped off the bed and hit the deck. The one intelligible thing I heard him say was “and put the steak back in the refrigerator” (in Japanese). What an absolute shithead, I thought (in English). Throwing a semi-frozen steak at me while I’m in bed sleeping, just like a spoiled two-year-old throwing a temper tantrum.
I got up, put the steak back in the freezer, and went back to bed again looking forward to my two blissful days of freedom from this tiresome bullshit. Just as I was once again drifting back to sleep, he came shuffling down the hall, turned on the light, and then slammed my bedroom door shut as loudly as he could, throwing me and the cats out of bed and most likely the neighbors two doors down as well. That was sufficiently disruptive as to make it impossible for me to get back to sleep for the rest of that night, so I spent it tossing and turning, trying unsuccessfully to find a comfortable position and feeling very unhappy over how being robbed of yet another night of badly needed sleep was going to impact my free weekend and all the things I was planning on accomplishing.
I had heretofore been perceiving the whole ludicrous spectacle as some sort of darkly twisted comedy sketch, so it didn’t even occur to me to get outraged about it until nearly 20 hours after the fact when Chi called me just before he boarded the plane the next afternoon (Friday) to say goodbye since we had parted on lukewarm terms at the airport. He seemed far more genial when he called, which, as always, lured me back into the “safe comfort zone” in which the incident has blown over and it’s most expedient to just move on. Then I remembered what he did, and the lunacy of letting it go and leaving him with the impression that it’s ok to abuse me like that, knowing that it will only keep escalating unless I nip this one in the bud.
But how to do it? I’m a little low on ideas. Serve the steak for dinner on Monday night when he comes home from his weekend trip to Japan and have a discussion about it? That’s the hard part. How to handle the discussion knowing that narcissists are never wrong, and people who are that fucked up are always immovably convinced that they are perfectly fine and their actions, however outrageous, are always perfectly justified and beyond reproach.
Anyhoo, Friday evening proceeded much as I had expected: I was too wiped out to accomplish anything much, but did get the rare treat of being able to talk on the phone with a friend without the stress of having to endure him giving me grief for doing such a thing.
K and I examined the incident in great detail, analyzing every possible angle for places where some sort of misunderstanding could have logically given rise to a reaction such as that, and basically just concluded that such pitifully and unapologetically immature behavior is par for the course for Japanese males of Chi’s vintage since they are traditionally coddled and kowtowed to and generally socialized as narcissists who never learn to deal with their emotions or communicate effectively. (K is a Japanese artist we met when I lived in Tokyo, so she is in a position to have an authoritative opinion on this matter) We also agreed that creative types have a distinct propensity toward being mentally unstable and especially narcissistic.
I am certain that everyone reading this must be wondering about the million-dollar question: why in the hell would I continue to put up with this? Answer: Not that this is intellectually defensible by any means, but there is a well-known trend in which artistic types go to absurd, logic-defying lengths and put up with conditions other people would find intolerable for the sake of their art.