Plain Talk


The Smallest Box by David L. Gregory

She came over to my table and asked if I remembered her.
“That’s my boyfriend over there.”
Their table hugged a pillar blocking the sunny Tokyo Bay view enjoyed by the other customers that afternoon in Chiba’s AquaRink ice skating facility café.
“Maybe we will marry next year.”

On my way out, I stopped to congratulate the potential groom to be. What I later heard happened with Hiromi and Hiroshi that night at another place also close to the bay sounded so too good to be true that I visited that place to confirm it really happened. It did.

Hiroshi had reserved for the course menu that night at OCEAN TABLE, next to Chiba Port, on the second floor, where tables sat by the huge windows facing Chiba Port Tower and Tokyo Bay. No view-blocking pillars there. And they had a wait, even with their reservation, because it was Christmas Eve, which in Japan matters much more than the following day; the Eve is the year’s couples’ night out, and single women without dates that night can feel their whole year was wasted.

Hiroshi had changed into a suit after skating, and had urged Hiromi, against her protests about overdressing, into a plaid one-piece, raising expectations. They had never come to a place this nice, one requiring reservations. Saizeriya was more their speed: fast faux-Italian, cheap, and everywhere.
The unexpected wait made Hiroshi antsy. He relaxed and all was perfect after they were seated.

They talked. They ate the Christmas Dinner courses. They ignored the soft Christmas background music. They admired the gleaming, golden Christmas Tree rising from the first-floor buffet area through the open center space across from their table. They could see outside the sparkling flashes and half the tree in Port Tower’s Christmas Illumination, and beyond, the lights from the ships on and facilities around Tokyo Bay, appearing almost twinkling. Perfect—but not for Hiromi.

She went to the toilet. Still he had not asked. The day was done. The reservation system only allowed them two hours there. They had been together all day. He had remembered her birthday-just by coincidence, also that day-with a necklace at AquaRink. Nice, but was that all? He had pestered her since early December about what Christmas present she wanted until she had finally exploded with, “Nothing! Don’t you know I just want a proposal?!” And had added she wanted it to be a surprise. Here he had the perfect chance, and he was wasting it.

She could try enjoying what was left of the evening. Dessert was next. At least here was better than Saizeriya….She was still stuck when she returned to the table, and had no chance to do or say anything, anyway. It was his toilet turn.

Their desserts came. Hiromi sat and waited and pondered the future. Outside, the tower stood alone against the dark sky and Tokyo Bay’s inky darkness.

Their desserts waited. Maybe his tooth was bothering him again. Maybe he was just tolerating it to make the night go well. Maybe for her. Maybe she should go to check on him. Wait-maybe she just heard his voice across the room.

No, only Santa Claus, posing for photographs with diners at the far table. He then started circling the room, giving a small present from his big sack at each table. She could check after he was done.

Hiroshi still had not returned to his seat when Santa reached their table. He handed Hiromi a big, red stocking, by far the room’s largest gift, accompanied by a squeaky, “Atari! You’re a lucky one!” Yeah. She set it aside and Santa moved on. What was he still doing in the toilet?

Santa finished his round, returned to Hiromi, and pointed at her unopened stocking with squeaky, “Un! Un!” grunts. The other diners had opened their presents. She forced a smile and said she was waiting for her boyfriend to return. “Un! Un!”

When Hiromi still resisted, Santa took the stocking in his white-gloved hands and opened it himself. Out first came a big, pink box, heart shaped. He opened that and pulled out another heart-shaped box, and then, from inside that, another heart-shaped box. Another smaller, heart-shaped box followed. He removed from that an even smaller heart-shaped box, and thrust it to Hiromi with one more squeaky, “Un!”

Still gone. Well, he’d miss it. Hiromi obeyed Santa this time and opened it, the smallest box in the room …and her mind and face went blank.

After that frozen moment passed, Hiromi looked at Santa. The second shock hit, and more followed. Santa Claus had ripped off his gloves, furry hat, sunglasses, and huge, flowing beard. He took the box from her?she was still speechless?dropped onto one knee, held the open box out and up to her in both stretching hands, and said in a voice loud enough for everyone in the room to hear, “Hiromi-san, boku-to kekkon shite kudasai! Hiromi, please marry me!”

Outside, to anybody looking, Port Tower’s Christmas Illumination still flashed, and the lights on and around Tokyo Bay still appeared almost twinkling. Inside OCEAN TABLE, on the second floor, everything was happening so fast that Hiromi just did not know which was more difficult to believe: Hiroshi and the ring he first tried slipping onto the finger on her right hand, the one he had taken in his before she held out her left hand, or the following PAN! and PAN! PAN! PAN! PAN! PAN! and PAN! PAN! and PAN! explosions ripping and ribbons shooting around the room as diners at the floor’s other tables popped the party crackers they had found with the notes in their presents from Santa Claus.

Copyright © 2018 David L. Gregory All rights reserved.

What’s App With You?


Way of Life

The more information you provide the app, the better it will be able to help you get rid of those nasty habits in the new year. As you collect more and more information you will be able to easily spot positive and negative trends in your lifestyle: exercising, eating healthy, sleeping and more! And, if you're the kind of person who needs to be reminded of things, you are going to love Way of Life's powerful reminders. You can set up reminders and custom messages to give you that little push you need in your daily life. The app also allows you to keep journals and notes, in addition to logging your exercise, and even how much water you drink. This app might be the push you need for your new year resolution. The perfect little app to remind you of daily goals!


Having a to-do list and setting deadlines for each list item can help you manage your time better and not miss out on any important tasks. 30/30 helps you get stuff done. You set up a list of tasks, and a length of time for each of them. When you start the timer, it will tell you when to move on to the next task. That's it. The task list is controlled entirely with gestures; a simple and natural way to use the app. The display is minimal but attractive and it still shows you everything you need to know: What am I supposed to be doing right now? How much time do I have left to do it? 30/30 App-teach kids (and adults!) about planning, time estimation, self-monitoring, and social behaviors. This app will surely help you to execute your new year tasks a lot better!


Tokyo Voice Column


Lotto by Mardo

Karl Marx used to say “Religion was the opiate of the masses”. He meant that God was used to keep people happy and in their place. With less people being religious these days I take the view that the Lottery has taken its place.

The dream of winning Lotto keeps me going. All I would need to retire is 5.3 Million dollars. With that I could pay off all the student and House loans and never have to work again. 5.3 million is a scientifically chosen number. New research in Australia shows the Average Australian needs 5.3 million dollars in the bank to be considered rich or happy. This I suspect has to do with the price of Avocados, Cafe Lattes and House Prices in Sydney… Being a country boy I am sure I could make do with less!

Winning the lotto would take care of my mortgage and allow me to fly first class rather than cattle class. Winning the Lotto would mean I would not need to rely on a state pension, which Governments worldwide are trying to get rid of either by budget cuts or shaming recipients who have been paying taxes their whole lives to get the pension. Winning lotto, best of all would mean I could retire and finally write my novel, instead of doing my best to write for TNB in my lunch breaks. TNB keeps my writing dream surviving. Lotto would make it thrive!

While I buy lotto I have hope, I sometimes won’t even look at the results to keep the hope a bit longer! But while I am buying my $5 worth of tickets a week I am not robbing banks or attempting to overthrow capitalism, so I suppose Lotto is good for society. A big Jackpot this weekend. Hope I can retire soon.



宝くじに当たれば、住宅ローンが返せるし、エコノミーでなくファーストクラスで飛行機に乗れる。宝くじに当たれば、世界じゅうどこの国でも年金コストの削減とか、生涯、掛け金を払い続けてきた年金受給者をがっかりさせるような消滅しつつある年金に頼らなくて済む。宝くじに当たり、引退した暁には、ついに小説が書ける。今のところ昼食時にTNBに投稿する記事を書くのが精一杯だ。TNBは僕の望みを断たずにつないでくれる。 宝くじによってその望みが実現し願いがかなうのだ!


Strange but True


Such a misunderstood vegetable!

Brussels sprout is such a misunderstood vegetable. Many people hate them, but if cooked well, they could be sexy, as well! Well perhaps, some people felt the same way and wanted to give them some time to shine. A Scottish eatery is serving up ice cream made with SPROUTS in the run up to Christmas. The controversial concoction, flavoured with peppermint, is being served up at ice cream parlour Mackie's 19.2 in Aberdeen, Scotland. Every serving is topped with a frozen Brussels sprout, and is comes in a bright cabbage green colour. The ice cream itself is made with real sprouts and a peppermint oil. It's the dream ice cream for brave sprout lovers, and it could change the perspective of the poor misunderstood brussels sprout.

Welcome to the future

The Metropolitan Police tested live facial recognition in Westminster on December 17 and 18 as part of an "ongoing trial" of the technology. A mobile deployment of the controversial surveillance software included covering areas in the vicinity of Soho, Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square and was used "overtly", the Met said, with a uniformed presence and information leaflets available to the public. But privacy campaigners have labelled the technology "authoritarian". Met Police said the test would run for around eight hours on each day, and all faces on the database used during the deployment are people wanted by police and the courts. Members of the public could decline to be scanned, The Met confirmed. The future is catching up with the images we have seen in minority report and other 'futuristic' movies, perhaps?