"Fat and Old and Ugly"
I got on a bus to Yokohama Harbor to renew my passport. I dreaded my photo shoot, but I had to face it --and the camera. A passport photo would cost 1800 yen in the government building. That was too expensive. Some train stations have an automated photo booth, which charges about 700 yen. I walked out of the building and found a photo shop next to it. I went in and asked a young man how much. He ushered me to a metal chair. The seat was bare, no cushion. I sat down. The man clicked his camera three times.
"You shut your eyes three times," he said.
"Did I?" I said. I stood up.
I was probably trying to avoid the camera, although nobody forced me to sit there. I sat down again and told myself not to blink. He clicked the button three times.
"I didn't blink at all this time."
I smiled and paid 1050 yen. A minute later, he handed me a small white envelope.
I opened it.
"Ahhhhhh. No!" I said. My hands held my photos. He stared at me. "Oh, it isn't your fault. It's just that I looked like a criminal."
He said nothing.
A year ago, I asked a man in English:
"You have lived here for a long time. Why do you like Japan?"
"Because Japanese women are slim," he said.
I said nothing.
I try to be fair. I try not to judge anyone by one seemingly shallow opinion. Perhaps, many men prefer slim women over fat ones. I can't blame them. The other way must be true, too. He probably felt comfortable saying it because I wasn't fat yet.
Meantime, my metabolism rate went down. I gained weight. I also picked up my old chocolate-eating habit. Growing up, I was chocoholic. It's been more than a year, and I still eat chocolate. And I haven't seen that man.
A month ago, I was walking through a park pathway on my way to San Dimas library. A man who carried several grocery bags in both his hands was heading toward me. Everything looked ordinary except his grocery bags. They were all full. We came closer and closer like two local trains, and I was about to open my mouth to say hi.
"I'm FAT and OLD and UGLY!" he blurted out from top of his lungs.
I gulped. I must have blinked three times.
"Ha ha ha ha ha. No, you're not!" I said.
What a therapeutic message! He made my day. I would want to say that to someone when I got the chance, if I were a man.