‘Tis A Consummation Doubtfully to be Wished

If you had told me, when I was a kid, that I could have a paying job where I spent most of my time sitting around doing nothing and that there was a place with all-you-can-eat sweets, I’d say that was pretty much my vision of heaven.

Then, strangely enough, I found both in the same country.

When I first started working in Japan, I was required to be at school on weekdays even when there was nothing for me to do. In fact, my first assignment was to sit around and “plan” and “study Japanese” while the students took exams. “Planning” and “studying Japanese” took care of the first two hours. Then I wrote a bit which took care of the third hour. Then I read a bit, which took care of the fourth. Then I ate lunch. Then, whatever I tried to do, I couldn’t do anything. My brain was so overcome with restlessness/cabin fever, that I couldn’t focus on anything. Remember how that last five minutes of Algebra felt in high school when the clock didn’t move and teacher became more and more incomprehensible? That’s pretty much what my entire afternoon was like, except I didn’t have math gibberish to comfort me (in an odd way).

Even after I got a laptop computer and put Civilization II on it, I found it was difficult to concentrate those last two hours. Sometimes in my current job, especially during school trips, I find myself with a five hour “lunch”. That last hour is hell, even with internet access.

I also found that world where you can eat all the sweets you want. In fact, Japan seems to have quite a few all-you-can-eat sweets buffets. Back when I was in Niigata, I went to such a buffet with She Who Must Be Obeyed and one of her friends. There was a great mix of cake and ice cream and other random pastries and all the coffee we could drink for 90 minutes. This was great at first. I was thinking “Let me eat cake!” and “Bring me coffee in a golden goblet. I’ll have none of this ceramic crap! Where is my golden spoon?”

After 45 minutes, I began to feel the pain. My body started to reject the sweets (the same way your body starts to reject beer and wine when you’ve had too much) and even the coffee started tasting bland. After one hour, I was ready to sell my soul for a slice of bacon. (The devil did appear, but he only had lightly fried Canadian bacon so I told him to screw off and send another deity.) If there’d been a shaker full of salt anywhere nearby, I’d have poured it in my coffee.

Today, to celebrate the last day of the Golden Week holiday, we went to a place called Sweets Paradise, which let us gorge on sweets for 90 minutes, but also provided pasta dishes (which is, arguably, another form of sugar) and rotisserie chicken. The non-sweets helped a lot, but we still all reached the “that’s about enough of that” point.

We got what we wished for though–so much we didn’t want it anymore–and we got an inch or two on our waistlines for free.

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