Friends from schooldays

We met in an Italian restaurant in Shin-Marunouchi Building.
Among six old boys of the group, one canseled his participation at the last moment and another is now stationed in New York. Therefore, only four of us including me were present.
Recently a violinist of an amateur orchestra told me during an after-rehearsal gathering in a bar that he chose early retirement because he could not stand the human relations in his company. He used to work at a large brewery in Japan which engages some 3500 people, but quit it a few years ago. He is a friendly and sympathetic gentleman and a good drinking companion in casual gatherings. Therefore, his words were a surprise for me, because they indicated that even such a sociable man could not get along with the human relations in a leading Japanese company. He added he could not stand the situation where people were evaluated and acknowledged only as a module of a huge organization and from their contribution to the profit, and where their individuality is constrained by business values. He could not have a feeling of satisfaction in the company and made use of the offer for early retirement.

Main dish - before this there were two types of pasta.

A dessert

Choices of tea

Neighboring seats

I can understand his feeling. I do not feel comfortable among business partners who are obsessed by their success and promotion. They might respect me and try to let me feel comfortable, if they judge that they can make use of me. They do not need me as a living person but my title and possibility which might help them realizing their own ambition. However, differently from the violinist, I want to continue to play my role in the business world, because I have also my own idea or ambition to pursue. Good titles and higher ranks help me in my undertakings, though I know the difference between my title and function in the organization and myself. I enjoy my job as a sort of role play game.

But, I also need true friendship, in other words friendship not based on business considerations, but based on its own merit. Therefore, hobby such as music gives us a good chance to find good friends. I have to thank my mother that she introduced me to violin when I was five and continued to force me learn further though I was not much eager to learn music. Anyhow, after seven years' lesson in a Suzuki-Method school, I can now play violin and make many good friends through music, either in Japan or in foreign countries.

Other good friends are from our childhood or school days. I regularly meet several friends from my junior high school for casual gatherings. It is an unwritten rule that we do not talk about our business, but relax ourselves just as young schoolboys. Our group nowadays consists of six men. It is not a class reunion. Even among school boys chemistry is important and the difference of living environment and standard makes it difficult to have comfortable communications. Therefore, we have similar lifestyle and social status.

We have also one thing in common. Namely, all six of us had a girl friend during our junior high school days, but neither of us came to a happy end. This is an important point. If one or two could succeed in achieving their first love, we cannot have happy meetings with them. It is important that we share bitter past. Despite the past failure, we have contacts with all those ex-girlfriends except for the case of Y-san. K-kun had relations with her, but had miscommunications and did not dissuade her from marrying another man. The rest of us have also similar experiences. Only the difference is that soon after her marriage Y-san commit suicide. K-kun always expresses regrets, when he is drunk. However, a proverb says "regrets always come too late".

Other five also missed their chances to realize their first love, but now keep more or less good contacts with ex-girlfriends and invite them often to our gatherings. They are not unwilling to meet their ex-boyfriends, while they have their own happy life.

When we have mixed meetings, boys have to adapt to the taste of girls. We therefore do not choose izakaya and go to slightly fashionable places such as Italian restaurants where we can enjoy sophisticated urban atmosphere and drink wine instead of sake and shochu. We order carpaccio and spaghetti instead of sashimi and soba. I cannot understand whey women are fond of European cuisine, but we have to live with their taste. French kitchen is nevertheless too heavy for oldies, but "cucina italiana" is a good compromise for both genders.

Shortly before today's meeting, a member informed us that he had to cancel his participation, because he had an awful pain in his chest and needed to be hospitalized for medical check. As we had reserved smoking seats for the sake of our only smoker, we immediately changed our reservation to non-smokers' seats. We are now approaching the age of 60. Sixtieth year means in the Far East the return of the same zodiac and we celebrate this as a symbolic rebirth. On the other hand, many of us will retire and our life will radically change. We have to pay more attention to our health and take more time for our parents' care. Usually health and parents' care are two major topics for our generation, though they are both not much pleasant themes. But, we will have more free time in the near future to vitalize our old friendship.