Later I would find out that he was probably her bodyguard. After class, I crossed-paths multiple times with this lady without knowing that she was the one he bowed to In the changing room, she nimbly put on her power woman three piece suit in the corner where the lockers created an inlet. Her lipstick spelt fierceness, as she exited the toilet she did not wash her hands, perhaps because I was blocking the sink, on her way out she stopped at the mirror by the vending machine and ensured her hair was in place. She wore a turquoise there piece suit, stockings, and shoes to match. I moved at a pace similar to one walking through a butterfly garden, no rush, making plain observations along the way. The two of us overtook each other several times along the course of our post-class self-grooming rituals ending with accurately spotting our membership card at the receptionist’s counter.
It was still raining when I got outside. Taking my time, I retrieved my umbrella from the rack and opened it. As she exited, she smiled and murmured a word of thanks to the reception staff. In the driveway, a black minivan sat, its engine and side door open, flanked by two men in suits, of which one carried an umbrella. He sheltered her immediately as she walked out. A couple of steps separated the car from the dryness of the concrete overhang. Flattered, she said something along the lines of: “really, it’s alright, thank you.” Her practicalities surprised me. She was a powerful woman with no need of showing her strength. Once she made it to the car, I pointed my umbrella towards the ground, put my hands in place to gracefully balloon its protective screen, when I noticed in front of me stood the man at the reception.
He had come outside to bow as her vehicle left the property, a common practice among the Japanese to see off dignitaries. The bows were some of the lowest and most prolonged I have ever seen. He made three bows in total, the car had left the driveway and was more than several houses away when he arose. I said to him: “she must be important.” He emphatically replied: “hai, she is the daijin.” A little prodding and I found out that she was a minister in the Diet (Japanese Legislature).
As I strolled back home, I realized my interpretation of the man’s presence in class was completely mistaken. I had pegged the man as having some special privilege when he was there as a security measure. There are probably many moments in which I have come up with explanations to make me feel comfortable in unfamiliar settings. These voices judge quickly, and are slow to change.