HOBART HUGHES ........home

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Wandering around Tokyo seems pointless so I go into Becks Coffee at Shimbuya station. I get my coffee and sit next to what I think must be a hostess as she she is dressed traditionally. I assume she must be going to work soon as it’s about 4.30pm and the hostessing business is all about making busy businessmen feel unbusy after work. It’s about getting them to buy drinks and ultimately it’s about getting one of them to take you on as a mistress. But I would be wrong in this case. For a start she is in a yellow cotton kimono. A hostess would be wearing silk and have a much more fancy series of layers. Most likely she is going to a summer fireworks festival. We catch eyes and she almost smiles. She is really young maybe nineteen or twenty. While I was ordering my coffee I was watching her preen herself and then go to her phone to check something. She is still going over the same eye now that I’m sitting just along a curved bench. She moves onto her hair and in particular her fringe but does not linger here as she has spotted something and has gone back to her lipstick, which already seems perfect. I ask her if I can take a photo and she really does smile now but makes a gesture that is unmistakably no. I nod smile and put my camera away.

She is back on the fringe but glances at me as I look up from writing in my notebook. Dramatically she moves the bulk of her hair from behind her neck over her shoulder to hang in front. This really has a big impact on me and somehow I feel she has made her point. I guess the point is something like - these series of small thing add up to a powerful moment if they are all delivered in the right way ” In my foreigner way I want to tell her “don’t rely on approval from some man”. On reflection however she might be amazingly smart and studious the rest of the time but tonight she is being a girl and I can see she is really enjoying how she looks.

She is really determined to do something to this fringe. Deftly she inserts a rather large bobby pin about three-fifths up the hair cliff. It has the effect of levelling and organizing the fringe into a perfect slight curve. Then with a movement I miss because it’s so casual the pin just vanishes. I suppose there was a finger full of hair she was holding which she just let go of but it seemed like a magic trick. She is back on the phone now holding it with her fingertips only. She does not text but perhaps reads or rereads something. As I look up again from writing the phone has transformed into the mirror once more as she pouts and re pouts her lips. I notice for the first time that the corners of her mouth have a thin line in a different colour red. It is like watching a crafts person at their trade.

Suddenly she clears her tray and she is clopping out the door in her senseless shoes. This is another give away that she is not a hostess if she were she would either walk silently in those frame work shoes or she’d wear some sort of silent slippers.  But she has gone into the throbbing mass of commuters. It’s time to be young and have a summer.