Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Stalker

My husband found a Nova Usagi cell phone charm when he was taking out the trash today. The Usagi is a cross between a pink rabbit and a bird and was Nova's mascot for years. Every branch had dozens of Usagi items for sale, although no one ever seemed to buy them when I was there.

I've only seen the Usagi in Japan. I searched Ebay to see if there are underground Usagi collectors in America, but only one user listed anything and he or she lives in Japan. So how in the hell did a Nova Usagi cell phone charm (I assume it's a charm) find its way to a Tampa, FL parking lot? And what are the odds a former Nova employee would find it? Very mysterious.

It's stalking us.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Traveling License Plates

In Japan, my husband and I used to visit an American hamburger joint called Oatman's whenever we got a craving for familiar food. Named after a Route 66 tourist attraction, Oatman's serves great burgers not unlike ones you'd find in the States. This is unusual for Japan, as many other restaurants serving foreign food often destroy it by putting raw eggs, mayonnaise or other strange ingredients on top. For example, this is what they've done to Pizza Hunt pizza.....

To create a vintage American feel, the owners of Oatman's have decorated the entire restaurant with old advertisements, products and license plates from the United States. There are plastic Hamburglar toys, old concert posters and license plates from the '80s. The license plates are fake, there is a sticker from a novelty shop where the annual registration one should be, and this gave my husband and I an idea. We had a stack of our own old license plates at home, (I often had to forbid my husband from hanging them on the walls in our apartment) why not send them to Japan for display at one of our favorite hangouts? That way Oatman's would have authentic license plates from former customers and we'd be able to leave our mark in Japan, in a small, humorous way. So that is what we did. We had to wait until we moved back to the United States to find the plates, but we eventually located them and I sent them to an old student of mine who lives near the restaurant. She delivered the plates a few days ago. Thanks Tomomi! This is the picture she sent back as photographic evidence...

She says the owner wasn't in when she delivered the plates, but that the staff assured her they'd put them up soon. I'm not sure why, but my husband and I find the idea of our old license plates hanging in a restaurant near Tokyo wildly amusing. It doesn't take much.