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Bonzer Words!: A Night At A Geisha House, Part 2

Peggy Mitchell is invited by 'Bottler of the Year', Mrs Yomiura, to a celebration at the most expensive Geisha house in Tokyo. Mrs Yomiura is determined to teach the dominant males a lesson.

Peggy writes or Bonzer! magazinw. please visit www.bonzer.org.au

To read the first part of this story please visit http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=peggy+mitchell

Whisky, traditional Japanese sake and beer were placed on the other tables. At a signal from the Momma-San, the geishas opened the bottles and poured drinks for all of the guests.

The geisha on my right handed me a glass of straight whisky on ice.

'Campai!' shrilled Mrs Yomiura, raising her glass in a toast to the future prosperity of Coca-Cola. (Campai is the Japanese way of saying 'here's your health' and it is considered very impolite not to raise one's glass, return the greeting and down the contents of the glass in one gulp.)

Dutifully I returned her greeting and gulped my glass of whisky, wondering how long I'd be able to keep up with her if all those stories were true.

'Campai' said all the guests and downed their glasses. Plates of food were being passed down the tables and I managed to get myself a filling bowl of rice and vegetables.

Mrs Yomiura insisted on playing her game of 'Campai' every few minutes and we all had to put our chopsticks to one side and join in.

No wonder she managed to floor all those hard-drinking Coca-Cola executives if she insisted on drinking before one could get a morsel of food to one's mouth.

On the stage a mournful-looking geisha played a Samisan—the traditional one-stringed instrument—and sang a tuneless song. I'm sure it would have been very interesting and educational if I had been able to understand the words but I was having trouble keeping up with Mrs Yomiura's frequent toasts and wished the main meal would arrive.

Geishas traditionally fed their male guests by picking up morsels of food with their chopsticks and placing them in the mouths of their willing guests (whom I thought looked like a bunch of baby birds waiting for the mother bird to feed them). My geisha gave up trying to feed me and left me to use my own chopsticks.

The 'companion' geishas seated on the left of the guests were supposed to keep the males amused during the meal by fondling their bodies, stroking their backs and whispering rude jokes, but did not know what to do with women guests so sat silently with their hands in their laps looking most unhappy.

My head was throbbing, my legs felt wobbly and although I longed to get up and find the ladies toilet and get some fresh air I knew it would be foolish to risk standing up and walking across the room.

I could just see myself crashing to the floor in the middle of a group of doll-like geishas.

From the sounds of laughter behind me I guessed that some of the younger men had already had more than enough to drink. Would the celebration evening turn out to be an evening of disgrace?

Then I remembered that an invited guest of honour was allowed (under the rules of Japanese etiquette) to request a special beverage.

Catching Mrs Yomiura's eye I asked her could I drink green tea instead of whisky.

'Of course,' she answered in English. 'You can drink tea or beer or anything else, for all I care. I just wanted to get these boys good and drunk to teach them a lesson. I'm tired of their patronising attitude towards me because I'm a woman. And she gestured to one of the geishas who thankfully brought me a teapot full of hot green tea!

Tea never tasted so good!

The singing and dancing on the stage got louder and louder and Mrs Yomiura's cries of 'Campai' became more frequent until most of the hapless men were sprawled across their tables or had fallen under them.

The plates of food were cleared away and pots of green tea appeared. Hot towels were handed out and then dry towels. Was that a wry smile I noticed on Mrs. Yomiura's face as she watched the pots of tea being re-filled again and again?

It would be some time before this lot of male chauvinists dared to look down their noses at this lady!

Protocol demanded that the guest of honour signal the conclusion of the evening.

Mrs Yomiura banged on the table with a spoon.

She thanked the Coca-Cola Company for the opportunity to attend a traditional evening at a geisha house and spoke of the power of businesswomen in the 'new Japan'. In her Western-style evening gown she presented a commanding figure.

As the geishas smiled and bowed us out of the main entrance, I imagined their fervent wish was that not too many businesswomen in Japan would be as successful or as stubborn as Mrs Yomiura.


© Peggy Mitchell

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