Tuesday, April 3, 2012

He's just not that into you

Today in Tokyo I went into Shibuya to have lunch with my old friend Noriko at one of our favorite tempura joints -- a restaurant with a tempura counter where you sit a few inches away from the chef, and he sends you your fried shrimps and vegetables as soon as they're done.

This is really the best way to eat tempura, by the way. It's not fancy as it's a counter but there's no waiting time between the fryer and your plate so the tempura is at its best. Also, really good tempura should be eaten with just a hint of salt, rather than dipped in sauce.


It's a good thing the tempura was very good because Noriko was out of spirits today. And today was my only day to get my house here organized and see her, as my "Manila schedule" -- meaning eating with, driving for, taking out, and cooking for a total of 39 people from Manila who will be visiting Japan this month -- officially starts tomorrow at noon.

From tomorrow at 12 noon, it's a solid three weeks of keeping friends and relatives company in this city and country that I know like the back of my hand. It'll be fun and I've been so looking forward to this; but you can imagine how hectic it will be with 39 guests in town. And on the day that my last guest leaves Tokyo -- I have a last hurrah lunch scheduled with him at another three-star Michelin -- I'm jumping into a cab within the same two hours and heading for Tokyo's pier to catch a Silversea boat to Korea and onwards to China.

"Why are you taking a boat to Korea?" Someone asked me. Frankly, I just want to be on a Silversea cruise ship for a couple of days of doing nothing. And then I found one cruise that conveniently leaves from Tokyo pier, so it's just a matter of taking a taxi to the boat. And I know I say this about a lot of my trips, but I'm really looking forward to Silversea as well.


Anyway, Noriko was positively distraught because she'd broken up with a guy she'd been seeing for some months now. They weren't officially going out -- it was more of a lot of phone calls, emails and texts, and a couple of dinners. So in my vocabulary, you can't really call that "breaking up." However, I didn't have the heart to correct her over already spilt milk.

Very coincidentally, I was so equipped to give advice on this matter. I usually am not the right person to give such advice as the process of liking someone is pretty cut and dried to me so I'm not likely to say something that'll make a girl feel better: he either likes you enough or he doesn't, and if he doesn't like you enough, you really will never know why. But life will go on (even if it doesn't seem that way at the peak of the crying sessions) and it's best to quickly get him out of your mind.

Moreover, when girls talk about breaking up, they always invariably gang up on the guy and call it "his loss," or say that he will come to his senses one day -- just to make the girl feel better. But frankly, I have no idea who's loss it is, or if one day he will wake up and realize what he missed; but I don't recommend wasting time or brain power on such musings. Whoever's doing the musing is probably the one feeling the loss more.

Unfortunately, this kind of matter-of-factness isn't exactly what girls in tears like to hear. But it's the truth.


But yesterday, on the Philippine Airlines flight to Narita, I happened to watch this movie called "He's Just Not That Into You." This isn't really my type of movie since -- as I've already explained -- I'm pretty unsentimental about the process of attraction, so feel-good movies aren't my thing.

On the way to Sri Lanka last week, I watched a movie about Margaret Thatcher, and it was a movie about Winston Churchill on the way back to Manila from Sri Lanka via Kuala Lumpur. I like historical or semi-historical movies, so "He's Just Not That Into You" isn't exactly in the same category.

However, I clicked "play" mindlessly, and before I knew it, I'd already finished the film. It was pretty enjoyable and it reminded me a bit of those post-college days of dating angst. And most fortunately so, as it also enabled me to advice Noriko better today.

"It seemed like we were having so much fun, then one day, he just stopped calling," she practically sobbed into her green tea. "Just like that. I don't know what I did wrong."

I sighed. "You didn't have to do anything wrong. You might have been perfect, but it could just have been him."

She stopped crying for a bit, to ask: "You really think so?"

I shook my head. "Actually I don't know," I replied. "I stopped trying to read guys' minds a long time ago. But what I do know is that they'll find a way to see you if they really want to. You won't have to do much. And if they don't arrange a meeting, then they're just not that into you. In that case, make sure you don't do too much to remedy this, and just move on."

I was actually counseling her more for the future as I'm kind of sure this will happen again. I spent almost all my adult life in Japan so I can say this pretty confidently: Most Japanese women are not taught to deal with guys in the same way that Filipino women are taught to do so by their mothers or elder sisters or good friends.

We're used to not doing anything even it'll kill us to not do so, but many Japanese women will fall all over themselves trying to do things for guys they like. We're at opposite ends of the spectrum. We insist on being chased and they don't mind doing the chasing.


Noriko thought for a moment. "There's a movie with a title like that , isn't there?" She asked. "Or isn't that a line from Sex and the City?"

I didn't know about Sex and the City, but I could vouch for the movie. I'd just watched it. So I nodded. "Yes, there's a movie," I said, "and someone not liking someone else is an unfortunate fact of life for almost everyone. It's going to happen once to some people, and a lot to others. Maybe you should rent it at the DVD store for reference..."



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