My friend Maria came up with this great analogy about love, life and sushi, as we sat on stools waiting at our favorite kaiten-zushi bar in Shibuya.
“Waiting for the right man is just like eating at kaiten-zushi,” she declared, “It’s always an adventure.”
Too deep or too raw (forgive the pun) for you to dig? Let me elaborate.
Imagine yourself sitting on one of those stools in front of a bar where a mini conveyor belt parades small plates of sushi in front of you. The colors of the plates are indicative of the prices of the sushi, so proceed with caution! (How I wish life was color-coded too) The time spent waiting for something to whet your appetite varies; sometimes it takes ages for something to show up and you’re fidgeting in anticipation (and hunger), and there are times when everything comes all at once and you never know which one to pick and everything seems to pass in a blur. Life analogy: Let’s face it: there are always times in a woman’s life that she feels like Venus de Milo, with men dangling left and right; yet there are times when she feels like a regular Jane Doe whom no one really knows or cares about.
Back to the sushi on parade; it’s funny how the grossest looking sushi almost always turns out to be the best tasting ones, while the ones you expected to be sugoi (amazing) turn out to be mama (so-so). It’s also interesting how we often judge people by their appearances; but when you summon the courage to put that slimy, smelly piece of raw whatever-it-is into your mouth, you can be in for a pleasant surprise! Likewise, there are times when you expect too much from an elegantly presented dish only to make a quick trip to the nearest toilet.
If you’re not feeling too adventurous, you can just stick with plain old ebi (shrimp) sushi. You can anticipate what it’s going to taste like anyway, so at least you won’t be disappointed. But what’s the thrill in doing something you’re so used to? Being safe can be so square!
Egged on by our earlier remark, you may feel a bit more adventurous and brace yourself to try the flashier unagi, toro or uni sushi. Your decisions tend to be a bit rash however, and you select based on aesthetics: color, appearance and presentation. Chances are you will get one of those thingies with the sauce. But as my friend Johanna said, “Beware the sauce. It only means it isn’t good enough as it is, and that’s why they have to dress it up with sauce.” So true.
Then comes one of those tamago (egg) rolls, that you kind of pass over because they look so common; I mean, what’s so mystifying about a roll of scrambled egg? But whoa, those are some of the sweetest things you could pass up.
Of course there will always be octopus sushi that you can go on chewing forever and yet, still nothing happens. One good piece of advice: Get rid of it. If you’re waiting for something spectacular, believe me, it isn’t going to happen. So if you’re waiting for your man to make himself over for you, let go of those illusions and drop the pa-martyr effect. Please. Get real. Leave the telenovelas to Juday and Claudine.
One realization that really struck me is that waiting for the right man is very much like eating at kaiten-zushi, something (or someone) will always come along whether you like it or not, but its always up to you whether to take it or leave it. What goes around doesn’t always come around; what you don’t want, others may covet. But there’s always something for everybody.
As an attendant tallied up our bill, I wondered if this is what it’ll all come to in the end; facing someone with a tally of what we had accomplished in our life. I just hope that by that time, I’d have had my fill and that I would have been satisfied with the adventure. We always will have to take a chance in life. It’s what living is all about: Making mistakes, learning from them, and thus choosing more wisely.
By the end of the meal, our stomachs were all full and we were happy about the analogies we had made. It made us feel braver to think that we were just a few of the trillion people who had braved the wait and eaten at a kaiten-zushi bar. Because in the end, we’re all subject to the wait; we’re all in anticipation of what God in His kitchen will dish up for us.
First published November 2001, Youngblood, Philippine Daily Inquirer
Republished January 2002, Silangan Shimbun