One rainy March afternoon, on a less busy area of Market St. just outside of “downtown” San Francisco, I walked past the 100% perfect boy.
I mean, he’s cute, I guess. Tall—well, taller than me. And it wasn’t like he had the perfect set of clothes, or anything. Just pants, a plaid shirt, a red jacket. It wasn’t raining at the moment.
He had hair, but I’m not sure I could tell you what color.
I tell someone, “I saw the 100% perfect boy today.”
“Did you talk to him?”
No. He was going somewhere. I think he saw me—most boys are usually looking at the women they pass, even just a bit. Unless they’re not interested in women.
“Well, what did he look like?”
He wasn’t a model. I mean, you might have an idea in your head of the perfect boy, the perfect man…but he wasn’t either of these. He wouldn’t be the leading actor…more like runner-up for Best Supporting, if he got nominated at all.
He’s walking west to east, and I’m walking east to west. The breeze carried all the rain in it, a promise for later that afternoon, but for now there was even patches of sun through the clouds, though still no shadows on the ground. Only puddles.
(I think I stepped in one. A shallow one, anyway.)
I wish I had talked to him. Stopped him, wherever he was going. People don’t do that anymore, but it’s still okay if you’re a woman, right?
I could have asked him for directions.
Unless he was new in town.
Regardless, I could have stopped him, asked where he was going. Said “I’ll walk with you.”
(Let’s pretend he says yes.)
It wouldn’t be so long. I’m sure we’d get wherever we were going soon, probably too soon to even finish my story. But I’d try.
I’d say, “There’s this piece by Murakami—you know, the Japanese writer who does all the surreal books and worked at colleges in the US and runs marathons. It’s about two people meeting on the street.”
(I wouldn’t mention the “100% perfect” thing. It would scare him away.)
“The two people were really meeting after a long time apart, after they had forgotten they had ever been together. They had dared each other—they had dared fate to separate them, and bring them back together.
“Isn’t that something?” I would say.
And he would look at me, politely, or maybe even wistfully. He’d probably clutch his bag a little tighter (he had a bag! or a briefcase, or something). And then he’d say, “But I’ve never met you before.”
I don’t know what to say to this.
“It’s a nice story, though.”
And we’d reach our destination.
“Welcome to San Francisco,” I’d say.
“Thanks. Hey, what did you say your name was?”
“Thanks, _______. Maybe I’ll see you around.”
This was (very obviously and deliberately) an alternate take on Haruki Murakami’s “On Seeing The 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning”.1 This piece was also a mild inspiration for “Large Coffee” from last year’s NaCreSoMo (see the comments), but this time around I wanted to do something much more closely tied. Now that it’s done, it’s reminding me of the same sort of reversal as “Reciprocity” from the first NaCreSoMo. (The more I write, the more I get to mention my own writing, amirite?)
That alone would probably have been enough reason to do this piece, somewhat free-written and loosely-connected, but it’s also tinted with a bit of my own life: a leftover crush that has nearly settled but hasn’t really faded away. It’s very ridiculous and blown out of proportion and probably wouldn’t work anyway, but there you go. Subconsciouses aren’t rational.
Haruki Murakami has written many surreal books, and personally the works of his I prefer are the least surreal. A friend recommended Norwegian Wood back in college; my brother passed along his autobiography, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I too would recommend both of these. (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and 1Q84, not as much). Given this piece, maybe I should seek out more of his short stories.
P.S. Patricia, fellow NaCreSoMo participant, I’m pretty sure you’re going to have liked this one. Maybe some others of you as well. So, as a writing prompt (for those of you doing writing things this month)…what’s your version of Murakami’s short story? How does it end, or not-end?
Part of NaCreSoMo; join us!
There are a handful of English translations of this story posted around on the internet, but this is the one I’ve referred to before. Coincidentally, it’s apparently on the personal blog of someone who works at The Boba Guys, a non-traditional milk tea shop in the Mission. Among the classics they also have experiments like horchata milk tea, which my flatmate will vouch for. You should check them out. ↩︎