Readers who know me really well, know that at heart, Iím a whiny procrastinating son of a bitch. They know that for every column that I actually finish, I have another half-completed kicking around here. Like the way that I have never finished my Atlantic Grand Prix series.
This, for example, is a column that I have had notes gathering dust for more than a year. I started gathering notes in late 2003 and I talked to Takao about doing a history of the Flying Hurricanes at the IWS Christmas party that year. I ended up getting pretty hammered and staggering home. According to my day-planner, Takao agreed to meet me for an interview after our January 2004, Praise the Violence show.
During Praise the Violence, the Arsenal orchestrated one of the most vicious beat downs in IWS history on the Flying Hurricanes. I ended up doing the interview in the hospital. After the interview, since it was unclear when or if the ĎCanes would make it back to the IWS, I put my notes away until a better time presented itself.
Since I am in the process of writing a 50, 000 word novel http://the-w.com/thread.php/id=27828 during November, (4102 words so far!) I decided that now was the perfect time to resurrect these notes. The following is the first part of that interview with Takao.
When We Were Marks The Secret Origin of the Flying Hurricanes Part One: Takao
It seems hard to believe that the young man in the hospital bed is cheerfully talking about his future. Just the night before, he was getting the shit kicked out of him by the Arsenal and the Hardcore Ninjaz, the so-called Fan Favourites. He was forced to watch them make mince-meat of his tag team partner, Kenny the Bastard, while he was helplessly handcuffed to the post. And when the returning Motivator of Madness freed him from the handcuffs, it was only yet another plot by the Arsenal which led to yet another beat down.
Takao is being held for observation, while the doctors check to see if his ribs are just cracked or if the Fan Favourites actually broke a rib. Kenny vanished seconds after being bandaged and is now playing hide and seek with hospital security.
Takao: Kennyís probably just a bit freaked by being in a hospital. I donít think that he likes doctors much. I know that he hates needles. Heíll turn up eventually, if only to just check up on me. Itís one of the strengths of our team that we know what the other guy is going to do. Itís what makes the Flying Hurricanes work. Itís about teamwork and partnership and in Kennyís case a lot of chocolate covered crickets.
It probably sounds ridiculous, me saying this from a hospital bed, but I really think that once we finish off the Fan Favourites, that Kenny and I have a good chance to take the IWS title belts. Weíre the only team other than Phantom and EXesS to beat Hi-5 when they were tag team champions. And the new tag champs? Viking and Damian? They may have changed their name from the Angry Aryans to le SLI, and they may hit harder now than they did before, but Kenny and I know how to beat them. Weíve been fighting them practically from the first day Kenny and I arrived in Montreal.
Llakor: Speaking of arriving in Montreal, Takao, letís talk about how you and Kenny ended up in Montreal. Actually, letís start earlier, tell me about your childhood.
Takao: My childhood? Is that necessary? What does my childhood have to do with my wrestling?
Llakor: ďThe Childhood shows the Man, As the Morning shows the Day,Ē Donít make me break out the Freud.
Llakor: Zho tell me about your parentsÖ
Takao: Okay, Iíll tell you about my childhood if you promise to kill that whatever that accent was.
Llakor: Youth today. No appreciation for the classics. ďI see nothink. I hear nothink. I know nothink.Ē
Takao: Got that right.
Llakor: So, your childhood...
Takao: Well, my Mom was an interpreter for the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo. My Dad was a Canadian diplomat who worked there. They had an affair. He was already married. She wasnít. When my Mom got pregnant, he got reassigned back to Canada. So things were pretty tough for my Mom, single parent in a culture that really frowns on that sort of thing. And Iím sure that you know that Japanese culture is a little xenophobic. So things were a little tough for me too. Bullies werenít that big an issue, because I was always one of the taller kids in my classes and I took judo classes in school, so I could take care of myself.
Llakor: I thought when you learned a martial art that you werenít supposed to use that knowledge to settle scores.
Takao: Youíre not supposed to go looking for trouble. If trouble comes looking for you, you are allowed to split some heads. Itís not like you let yourself get hurt. Anyway, once I turned twelve I didnít have to defend myself anymore.
Llakor: What happened when you turned twelve?
Takao: A bunch of stuff happened that year. I started writing to my Dad. My Mom got a new bigger apartment, which meant that I got transferred to a new school. I figured how to fit in better at school, by dying my hair red.
Llakor: Le WHOA. You dyed your hair red and it helped you blend in? Je ne comprends pas.
Takao: Itís all connected. When I first wrote to my Dad, I was a little pissed at him, him not being there, him not writing to me. Even just getting his address, I had to snoop in my Momís stuff. Anyway, he wrote me back and my Mom sat me down and explained that my Dad was actually a nice guy that he had been sending her money every month since I had been born and that he hadnít written to me because she had asked him not to. She thought that it would just confuse me and piss me off having him write, but never having him around. I was pretty pissed at both of them for about a week, but my Dad and I started writing each other once a week and there was stuff that I could talk to him about, ask him that I never could my Mom, you know?
So he sent me a copy of the Canadian Encyclopedia, and some Canadian classics stuff: Who Has Seen The Wind? - Barometer Rising Ė The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz Ė Anne of Green Gables. That sort of thing. Now, I already knew about Anne of Green Gables, the girls in my school were obsessed. And it was over the summer before I went to my new school that it occurred to me that dying my hair red was the way to fit in. See, I had this theory that some of the Japanese xenophobia was hatred, but most of it was just was fear of the unknown.
Takao: Xenophobia right? Phobia meaning fear. Xeno meaning others. ďFear of the otherĒ
Llakor: Yeah, thanks Takao, I know what Xenophobia means.
Takao: Right. Anyway, the year that I turned twelve the big bestseller in Japan was a book about how to grope women on the subway. Cause the trains in Japan are so crowded, you can basically do it without getting caught. So thatís itís one slightly creepy thing. But then you have someone writing about it which is even creepier. You have someone willing to publish it. And millions of people willing to buy it. Ugh.
So, I got to thinking. Here there are all these millions of people so terrified of talking to one another that the only way that they can make contact with a woman is to do it anonymously. So yeah fear. And I figured that if I could give people a way to react to me, to break through that barrier of fear, a way to shock them into relating to me...
I mean people were going to be a little freaked by a Japanese-Canadian bastard and isolate him a little, but a red-haired Japanese-Prince Edward Islander, a sort of connection to Anne of Green GablesÖ
Thereís that connection. Well, at the very least it would get the girls to talk to me, which is all that I really cared about.
Llakor: Did it work?
Takao: Oh yeah. Big time. Once I had the teacher introduce me and she told the class that my father was from Charlottetown, I had to beat the girls off with a stick
Llakor: How did you convince your mother to let you dye your hair red?
Takao: Are you kidding? She helped!
Takao: Yeah. I mean she was an interpreter for the Canadian and the British and the American Embassies, right? So, sheís hanging out with diplomats all the time. She knew all about telling a little white lie to put people at ease so they could see the greater truth.
Llakor: Man, your Mom sounds cool Takao.
Takao: Yeah, she was. Anyway, after that I had school pretty much dialed in. Lots of friends, lots of girl friends. Eventually, Iím captain of the judo team. And I always did pretty good grades-wiseÖ
Until the exam seasons started. Now see, in Japan, what job you can get is based on what university you graduate from, what university that you get into is based on what prep school you can get into, and what prep school you can get into is based on how well you do on your exams the year before prep school. Your whole future based on an exam written when youíre just sixteen. And these are not wimpy exams like the SATs or the LSATs. These are exams on steroids. These are the Terminators of exams. Which is why you have all these Japanese kids freaking out and burning out and committing suicide from the stress. Now, I had an out, because if I flamed out, I could go to a Canadian University.
Still, that year was a pressure-cooker of a year. And that last exam, that last day. Fuck. I overslept. I got up, my Mom was not there, there was just time to leave a note that I would be home late and catch the train to the exam hall. I wrote that last exam and afterwards my friends at school we all went to someoneís house and got massively stinking drunk. I mean falling down, puking all over yourself and starting to drink again drunk. So, I didnít get home until just before noon, hung over like a dogÖ and thatís when I met the social worker.
Llakor: Social Worker?
Takao: Yeah, see, the reason that my Mom let me oversleep is that she didnít. She went out to get some stuff to make my favourite breakfast Ė French Toast with really thick bread and Canadian Maple Syrup. I know that was what she was doing because she had the recipe on her, when they found her at the market. While she was at the market, this delivery truck Ė itís brakes went out. So, when I got home, there was this social worker and the truck driver and his boss and the president of the delivery company to tell me that my Mom was dead and to apologize me and to beg my forgiveness. Thatís a Japanese custom, taking responsibility.
I freaked out a little.
I sort of sleep-walked though the funeral. There were all these people trying to figure out my future for me. I met my Dad for the first time and he wanted me to come back to Canada. It turned out that I had aced my exams not that that meant anything anymore, at least to me. Half of the girls in my school were fighting over who would open their homes to me as a guest. My judo coach offered to put me up because he sees me as a chance to get to the Olympics. All these people fighting for me, for a future that I didnít even want anymore.
So, as soon as the funeral is over, I packed a few of my belongings and I split. Took right off.
Llakor: Jesus, Takao, Iím sorry. Really. Where were you heading for?
Takao: Nowhere, everywhere. Away. I just wanted to go somewhere where no one knew me and no one had decided what my future was. I was a little freaked out.
Llakor: Yeah, you mentioned that already.
Takao: Right. So, somehow I end up in the mountains near Okinawa. These huge old green mountains. And Iím hiking through this town nestled amongst this mountains, this town called FabertownÖ
Llakor: FABERTOWN? Fabertown, Japan? HOLY CRAP!?! Fabertown, Japan the home of the....
Takao: Hardcore Ninjaz, yeah I know.
Llakor: Wow. I donít know why Iím so excited.
Takao: Because, youíre a great big fat Ninja mark.
Llakor: I am NOT! Theyíre EVIL. They just put you in the hospital. Kenny is running around the hospital traumatized. And ummÖ Oh hell, who am I kidding? I am a great big fat Ninja mark.
Takao: Donít worry about it. I am a great big skinny Ninja mark. Although after last night, they are officially OFF my Christmas card list. Anyway, I was hiking through the hills outside of Fabertown and I didnít even realize that I was walking through the famous Ninja Gardens of Fabertown, Japan. I wasnít paying any attention, I had no idea where I was walkingÖ
And then I got tackled from the side by a girlÖ in a ninja outfit.