Why is the Bunny Everywhere?

For seven years now, I’ve been puzzled over the way folks here in Japan wear Playboy likeitaintnothang. They, the elderly, middle aged, and school kids (anywhere from age 4 to 17) wear The Bunny like it’s The Gap or L.L. Bean.

I gawk when I pass them on my bike, my little wondering commentary trailing like leaky fuel. I gawk at the checkout counter when I’m buying milk. I daily gawk at my kids’ preschool–a classmate’s mom sports a giant black duffel-purse with PLAYBOY in all white caps, set-off like gun smoke. I just want to ask her…do you know what it is? Are you okay with supporting the brand when you have two young daughters?

Some things don’t mean the same things here. This culture has their own demons, their own love-affair with visuals. I’m just not convinced that Playboy carries the same weight here. Perhaps it is just another cute bunny, another fashion-brand. The tuxed bunny does look fetching on those knee-high socks, but it also makes a young girl look…odd. It is kind of misplaced-smut.

I had a friend in high school who smoked alongside his mom. They earned so many Marlboro points, that company probably bought their couch, if even, their roof. If they had such niceties as cloth napkins, that little Marlboro Man would have been embroidered in each linen corner. They just accrued so many points! His favorite, everyday hoodie was a red…Marlboro sweatshirt. Everywhere he went, there was the cowboy, like a loan-shark uncle lookin’ out for his godson. A little creepy and mysterious.

Maybe that’s my problem with The Bunny on kids clothes here. Did the dad win it for upkeep of his twenty-year magazine subscription? Do they know, really know what it conveys, at least to the foreigner?

At one point, I was snapping my camera at each inappropriate Playboy sighting. It got old and I can’t locate the shots on my camera. Suffice it to say, The Bunny is a fixture here in Japan.

Jezebel says in this brief article, that Playboy has depended on Japan as a launch-pad for their new vintage-cool-flashback-apparel. It’s supposed to be class meets the iconic retro bunny ears. It’s soft cotton, good design, ranging from ten bucks to a thousand, per item. Think American Apparel and vintage-sex appeal. Think Jason Priestly, in the thick of 90210, with his cigarette box cuffed in his white v-neck sleeve. Or Ponyboy.

Look– your friendly neighbor walking his Chihuahua or Akita inu may be wearing this.

Your student may wear this backpack.

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It’s all cool. Not weird, at all. Just a bunny. Repeat this phrase like a mantra when you see the 73-year old lady wearing her Hefner-jumpsuit while watering her plant or shaking out her futon. It.is.just.a.bunny. You will smile at that mom dashing in at pickup time with her hot pink sweatshirt, those same letters asking you into your prude heart. It’s clothing. It’s just some bunny-love.

I know, Hugh. I’m a long way from home.

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Dogs Get Their Fortunes Read

Yesterday was our dogs’ birthdays. They are brothers from the same litter of their young doxie mother’s only litter. My husband bought the pups by trading Hebrew lessons, preparing our friend’s kids for their bar mitzvahs. A grand mitzvah, all around.

Now years past those landmarks, our dogs sit with us not in Pompano Beach, where they squirmed and wriggled as mini hot dogs, but here, in Japan. They are family when I like them or not (so many posts I could address their peeing, abhorrent habits of getting into dirty diapers, or their incessant barking). As a nice reprieve, yesterday was their shared birthday. It is interesting/strange/sad to note that I haven’t payed any homage to my husband on his birthday. January is cute in our home, as the dogs’ day is just two days after my dear hub’s. (More on human bdays later).

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“What should we do?”, my kids and I last-minute brainstormed. “Party hats! Oh, we’ll want to snuggle so dear, G-d, they need a bath! Okay, we’ll scrub”, we said, growing louder! And then squeals—“We can dress them up”, my daughter shouted. “Yes, and we should give them something tasty!” Here’s where she got culinary like some sensational vet at Le Cordon Bleu. She dreamed of how we might construct a real cake, but for doggies, round and chock full of carrots, veggies, dripping with a kind of succulent beef glaze. I reined her in a bit. This was, afterall, last minute, the night before their big 10 year party.

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There would be party hats, the cute stored supplies I hide in cubes in the dining room, from J’s 1st party. Paper festive napkins, my favorite from Oh Joy’s first Target line.

The dogs got special treatment following their de-stinkathon and deep conditioning. By special treatment, and mean crackers and me not wanting to kill them when they peed in my floor buckets as if they had never ever been outside. As if I’d let them drink a keg of shower water. They really are getting older. Less control & poor Sammy is dealing with a bout of kidney stones. Whooooosh and peeeeeee.

I didn’t even yell. A birthday is a birthday.

They wagged with our leftovers, new slices of vivid orange pepper, and even… their own tangerine-flavored fortune cookies. Sammy, the black one, got a particularly fitting fortune. Something about fun and weekends which prompted us to plan a trip to the park. (Maybe I should plant a fortune about jewels sparkling).

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It was a good time and a nice push to be more loving, more forgiving, and take a break from screaming.

A dog is a dog and they, the birthday boys, are sure family.

A Perfect Freezing

I am back, now two days, from my monumental first trip back to the US without kids, in years. It was all to be with my Grandpa, and it was obviously, phenomenally, worth it.

It was a perfect freezing, though the two and a half weeks were surprisingly mild. Only the last day held snow, but just a light dusting. When I saw what was falling, I ran out and found many itty teeny stars just like this.

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Now I’m no snow expert, but I didn’t know they came in tiny fractals, perfect snowflake specimens! They were flakes begging for the trifold science boards and black construction paper, as if I could have glued them like sticky spider webbing. In my head, though, they last.

I balanced one flake on my pinky nail and I wanted to run in to show my mom, but it melted at such a rate. That is why there are pictures. And memories stuck on the boards of our brain. My sweet time is hopelessly, perfectly stuck and frozen in time and space.

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I know the smell of my Grandpa’s cologned cheek, have the laugh and smooth hug of my Grandmother, so happy to see me as soon as she wakes. I’ve got my Grandpa wrapped by the fire, his shoulders covered in the inky blue textured throw.

Every salad, every place setting. I loved helping. Simply knowing where each dish goes. I baked bread in my Grandpa’s loaf pans, carried up bottles and bottles of wine and Champagne. Every morning was glorious and each evening, a sturdy ball.

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It is the frozen conglomeration of each moment, stuck in the flake, though, on the morning of the single snowy day, that makes it easy to take all the moments with me. Snow accumulates, you see. It clumps. Inside on my boots, inside the lining of my pockets when I shove my hands inside. It seeps into bone and breath and inside the gallery of my phone and now with me in Tokyo, where I am breathlessly over oceans, home.