I knew the moment we walked into the Torrance, CA restaurant, that there were going to be problems.
“Fast food sushi?” asked Sophia, a concerned look on her face.
“I heard good things about it. $7.99 for eleven pieces of sushi and rolls? Where else can you get that deal?”
We sat down and received our trays of sushi. I started eating, hungrily. Sophia reluctantly picked at her Spicy Tuna roll, examining the huge blob of rice.
“Did you notice that none of the workers who made the sushi were Japanese?” she asked.
“So? What do you think — only Japanese people can make sushi?”
Sophia ate her roll. She immediately made the International Women’s Symbol of Not Liking Something — that universal scrunching up the nose in disgust.
“Oh, come on. It isn’t that bad.”
“I’m not sure how clean this place is.”
“It looks clean to me,” I said matter-of-factly.
“They had this piece of TV last night about how dirty restaurants can be. Did you know about this teenage boy who died from drinking water with ice because it was contaminated with e.coli?”
“Good thing we’re not drinking water with ice.” I answered.
“It’s because the employees didn’t wash their hands. I didn’t see the sushi makers wearing gloves.”
“I’m sure they wash their hands. it’s the law.”
“Did you notice how the restroom keys are sitting right next to the soda machine?”
This discussion was beginning to ruin my appetite.
“You know, Sophia, I’m not going to listen to you anymore right now. I’m enjoying my salmon.”
One of the sushi makers/employees passed by and headed into the bathroom. He was a skinny blond guy in his early twenties with a haircut reminiscent of the “New Wave” era of 1982.
“Look, he’s going into the bathroom,” announced Sophia.
“Go follow him and see if he washes his hands.”
“I’m not going in there to spy on him,” I protested.
“You brought me to this dump. If he washes his hands, then I’ll eat the sushi.”
I sighed, and headed for the men’s room.
I entered the men’s room. Sushi Boy was in a stall. I went to a urinal to pee. After I was done, I stood around, my zipper undone, waiting for this guy to finish his business. He was taking longer than I hoped. I amused myself by reading some writing on the wall.
It read, “Miko, Hot and Wet.”
I drifted off for a few moments, thinking of Miko:
“Who was she — this Miko?” I asked myself.
I was pretty sure I knew what the author meant when he said “hot and wet,” but grammatically the phrase actually read as if Miko herself was “hot and wet.” Did she just come out of a sauna?
“I wonder if Miko is really hot?” I thought. “Did she work here at one time? I know three male Jewish friends who married Japanese women. Maybe I should have married a Japanese woman. I bet you they don’t kvetch as much as Jewish women. Well, actually that’s not true. Karen Tanaka from college was a major pain in the ass. Why didn’t I ask her out during sophomore year? She was cute. Why was I so scared of asking her out then?”
I shook my head in disappointment. You can’t go back in time.
“I wonder if Sophia would leave the shower tonight, naked except for high heels and chopsticks in her hair?”
“Yeah, right!” I quickly answered myself. “Like Sophia is ever going to bow down to me like a geisha girl!”
Suddenly, I realized I’ve been standing in front of the urinal with my fly down for five minutes — and it just seemed, weird.
“Screw Mr. Sushi Boy. He’s taking too long.”
I washed my hands and returned to the table. Sophia looked up, wanting an answer.
“Forget it. I’m not waiting for him any longer.”
“OK, fine. Since we’re sitting by the restroom, I heard you flush and turn on the sink. So, we’ll be able to hear if he washes his hands right from here.”
Five more minutes passed. We heard a flush coming from the men’s bathroom. Two seconds later, Sushi Boy exits, his hands completely dry. He heads back to make some more California Rolls.
Sophia and I looked down at our plates.
“Let’s get the hell out of here,” I said.
As we rushed out, I grabbed some packages of chopsticks.
“What do you need that for?” Sophia asked.
“Maybe later, you’ll want to wear them in your hair.” I suggested.
A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: My Menage a Trois