Well, let me oficially welcome you to tokio," Bronson said, signaling a nearby waitress. The jazz band was carefully working its way thorugh a sax-heavy melody, the snaky brass tones rising up the walls. "You are lucky to have found me. I’m a poster child for the gaijin trader if there ever was one."
I smiled, because Malcolm had describe him with those same words. Bronson was thirty-four years old and had lived in Tokio for nearly twelve years. He was a trader in the Tokyo office of one of the biggest investment houses in the world, a rising star who regularly earned between two and five million dollars per year. Malcolm have steered me toward him for a variety of reasons. Bronson had grown up in Boston, my hometown, and have attended Harvard. He was the same age as I was and had roughly the same childhood memories -prep school, upper-middle class mores and goles, etc. But after college, he had made choices that had led him around the world in search of a different sort of life. First London, the Dubai, then Osaka, then on to Tokio.
"The main thing you need to understand," he said, after ordering me a drink in what seemed to be fairly good Japanese, "is that no matter how long one of us has lived here, no matter how much we seem to have adapted ourselves, we’re outsiders, every one of us, complete fucking outsiders. The gaijin community is just that, a self sufficient little community that has nothing to do with the real world. This thing we’re living isn’t real life. Not like back home."
I looked at Bronson, at his relaxed posture and unkempt shirt. He didn’t look like the investment bankers. I’d met in New York or the business-school students I’d see al over Boston. He gave off a different sort of energy, not the tightly wound of spring of his Wall Street counterparts or the stiff assuredness of the B-school set, but something a bit more wild and unbridled. His eyes and his upturned smile remind me of Malcolm.
"Certainly, some people have fit in living here, haven’t they? I mean, there are people who stay in Tokyo for the most of their lives."
Bronson laughed, lifting his drink.
"Those are the worst self-deceivers among us. Those ones who learn perfect Japanese and sleep on futons and eat noodles and rices every meal. The marry Japanese women a wear kimonos to bed. They pretend they belong. But they’re the biggest fucking joke, because to the Japanese, no matter how good they speak or how authentic they dress, they’re just gaijin, foreigners, like the rest of us. They are chasing something they can’t have."
They waitress reappeared, setting the drink on the table in front of me. She backed away, bowing, and I fought the urge to bow back. Following her with my eyes, I noticed a table of three Japanese women looking over at Bronson and me, flirtatious smiles on their faces.
"Soooner or later," Bronson continued, "something happen to make them realized the truth. Maybe, it’s something small. They sit down on subway and people get up and move to the other side of the car. Or maybe it’s something big. They come homeone day, and their wife is gone, no note, no warning, no reason. It won’t make any sense to them, but it’s not supposed to -because they’re not Japanese, and they never will be."
He leaned past me and waved at the three girls at the next table. They laughed and quickly looked away. Then he downed the rest of his drink. He was getting progressive more wired, his words coming quicker, almost in tune to the accelerated pace of the saxophone solo.
"Do you ever miss living in the United States?" I asked. "Do you miss being part of a real life?"
"Scary thing is, I don’t fit in there anymore. I go to New York about twice a year on business. I try to go out with my friends ther, but I’ve lost all my social skills. I don’t know how to behave around civilized people anymore."
Ugly Americans: the true story of the ivy league cowboys who raided the Asian markets for millions/ by Ben Mezrich. – Ist ed. 2005.