Tokyo taxi drivers come in two distinctive types, the silent Shunsukes and the chatty Kentaros. I don't have a preference for one or the other. I just hope they don't overcharge me or try to pass off a one yen coin as a one-hundred yen coin when giving me my change. ( that's happened to me three times and I've called them on it every single time.)
One late night, coming home from a party after all the trains had stopped, I got into a chatty Kentaro taxi. He asked me the regular questions, " Where are you from?" " How long have you been in Japan?" " Why don't you go home?" He also gave me the standard compliments, " You speak Japanese very well!" and " I'll bet your parents miss you. You should go home."
Then the driver asked me if I ever went to any of the U.S. bases. I said that I had been to the bases a few times for special events but hadn't been to any in a long time. The taxi driver went on to praise the "open mind" of Americans and how wonderful it was that they brought it to Japan. " Sure. OK." I said.
He went on to describe how wonderful restaurants and clubs near the base were. " I wouldn't know." I replied. When the taxi reached my apartment, he didn't let me out. (Tokyo taxi drivers have control of the back seat doors and are supposed to open them as soon as you reach your destination, giving you the light you need to find you wallet and pay the driver.) The driver turned to me stared into my eyes and informed me he was going to go to an S&M club that weekend and waited a minute for me to invite myself. I panicked, in other words, I smiled the biggest smile I could muster and said, "YOU HAVE A GREAT TIME! I'M SURE IT WILL BE FANTASTIC! " I stayed in my frozen smile for a few seconds as the taxi driver realized I wasn't going to go with him and that not all blonde American women act the same as the ones in all the porn he's been watching. He deflated a bit, sighed and opened the door to let me out. It's not the first or the last time I've gone Pollyanna on someone's ass to get out of a jam. I just hope I don't run into anymore creepy Kensukes.