October 17, 2014
I’m drinking coffee here at the Meguro headquarters, and reading the letters sent to Miss Lonelyhearts. Since I’m über-broke at the moment (and more likely for the rest of my life) I have been writing for The Japan Times and they recently gave me the job of writing the Miss Lonelyhearts column. The column runs every Tuesday, so the work is not all that demanding, but I must go through 100 letters or more per week, and it really kills my creative fun reading time. On the other hand, the letters are entertaining as well as a touch creepy from time-to-time. All the correspondence is from throughout Japan, and all if not most are written by foreigners, which are no surprise since the paper is orientated to the English language. I didn’t realize how many people are lonely here in Japan, and most of it is due that they don’t know the language or culture here. Me, I just a visitor myself… so how in the hell can I give these people advice? For example:
“I have been living in the Kyoto area for about ten years, and I have been teaching English for six out of those ten years. The problem is I have a big crush on my boss, who is Japanese, and really can’t speak English. I can only speak English, and I’m having a hard time conveying my need for attention from him. I suspect he’s married. I know he likes whiskey and water - and that is about him. Am I wrong to feel something special for my boss? Elizabeth"
In the end of the day, all we know is that the sun goes up and the sun comes down, around dusk. Beyond that what do we know? I hope my answer helps you.” Best, Miss Lonelyhearts
I feel terrible. I’m 45 years old, have a young son, and a wife. We moved here from Billings, Montana so I can work in the computer field in Hakata. For the past month, I have been having an affair with a co-worker who works under me. She is much younger, fun, and I enjoy being here with her. The thing is I don’t love her, I just like having sex with her. The really bad situation is that I have lately been short on money, and I find myself time-to-time going through my wife’s purse for extra cash here-and-there for my dates with the co-worker. I know this is wrong. I often feel terribly guilty, but this somewhat makes the sex better with my co-worker - at least on my part. I don’t think I should feel this way, yet, damn the torpedoes! I am going to hell. Can you give me some sane advice? I know this is WRONG. Best, Burt from Hakata”
Pain is a four-letter word. We all have felt the pain, yet pain is hard to overcome. Yet, surely as the wave hits the beach, we must go on. I hope that this answer helps you. Best, Miss Lonelyhearts"
I have consistently been told that I have a comforting presence, especially with girls who are going through terrible breakups with either their husbands or boyfriends. I don’t know why, but I appear to be there when some sort of disturbance happens. More like instinct is at work than planning out my life to fulfill someone’s misery. But writing letters to people, I don’t know, or even know if these problems are real or just a projection of what they need or want in life… I think the big question is “what is life?” And I do ask that to myself all the time. The answer to be frank, is that I don’t care. I don’t care about the people who write to me. Nor do I care about my friends who are going through difficulties. All I know is that I have to look like I care and therefore I do care, but I know, deep down, that I don’t care.
I hate myself for not caring. I think to be human to be concerned about your fellow suffers. Yet, when the moment arrives, I just know how to act like I’m caring. When you get down to it, I don’t know myself that well, and therefore you shouldn’t either.