I was a regular at the cafe, afternoons, after school, I would ride my motorbike there and hang out with the cool twenty-something Japanese dudes drinking coffees and puffing away on Seven Stars. I was the only foreigner there, somehow I had been admitted into the congenial gang. Sometimes we would saunter into the game centre and play the latest low-tech, novel amusement machines - bingo pinball.
The game centre had plenty of electronic games, of course. This was mid to late 70's, so it was all about Space Invaders, Mission Control, Car Driving Games, Pac Man and the like. During the day, on weekends, my brothers, Mook and Rich, and I would go there, if we weren't in Shibuya - which offered more great games centres PLUS pachinko (upright Japanese ball bearing game) PLUS movie theatres with the latest releases.
At nights the Roppongi game centre was very popular with post dinner visitors and pre and post disco and nightclub revellers. I can smell and feel the boozy, smokey atmosphere right now. Even at their rowdiest, Japanese are quite contained and always polite. It was an awesome place to grow up on so many levels.
And many levels is what RSB had. My favourite discos - Nepenta and Giza were housed there. I would go there at least one night a week. I had a three piece suit and cowboy boots. It was the disco heyday in Japan, Saturday Night Fever created a frenzy and nightlife boomed. I had so many experiences there, across the threshold, that I plan to write a book about it one day soon. I saw things, did things, was immersed. I grew up there. From kid to seasoned night crawler. Roppongi nights. Like no other.
Even at the time, I remember feeling so lucky and grateful being able to have such a valuable after school outlet for personality exchanges and general youthful exuberance and conceptual rebellion. We smoke ciggies, drank iced coffees, told stories.... there were tears, uncontrollable laughing sessions, serious arguments. But we were cohesive. A core group of about a dozen girls and half a dozen guys. My best friend, Jenny, a Hawaiian girl, was a cheerleader, sports star, academic achiever and very friendly and popular. She was an essential part of my belonging and maturing. She was very kind and beautiful on every level. We never dated. She went out with my friends and I went out with hers. The friendship was more precious, too precious to risk loosing. I was, even back then, in some ways an outsider, a joker. I had long hair and would risk getting in trouble at school if it meant getting some good laughs. In fact, I remember more than a few times, being suspended from school, and riding my motorbike to Comos, spending the day hanging out there reading one of my ever present paperbacks, waiting for the girls to arrive. Jenny would see me there already at three and know I had been mischievous.
She was equally as playful in spirit but managed to avoid reprimand. We shared a love of fun and people. Her acceptance and embrace of me got me in with the rest of the girls, too. (I was 9 months to a year younger than everyone in the year.) There was a Texan, a Korean, some Japanese American halves, a Brazilian/Japanese at the core. I got close to them all and learnt SO MUCH from them about the workings of the female species. Many times, it was just me and the girls. I would just sit back and listen, absorb, throw in a joke now and then or answer a query, as best I could, about my own gender. It was almost like being a spy. But I never betrayed their confidence. Not once. I had too much respect for what I considered in many ways to be the superior sex. They were certainly more mature and wiser. Plus, they definitely looked and smelled better. I loved being around those girls! I think I kind of knew how lucky I was but tried not to make a big deal of it. Looking back now, I realise I was REALLY lucky. Insights gained then have taken me far in relationships and in generally understanding and appreciating humanity.
Ah, all these memories from a picture of a parking lot. They pulled down the building of my youth but they can't touch the priceless and golden alter of my friendships and experiences.