32-Year-Old Day Tripper

Author: Murakami Haruki (村上 春樹)
Japanese Title: 32歳のデイトリッパー (Sanjūnisai no deitorippā)
Taken From: カンガルー日和 (Kangarū no hiyori, 1983)

I’m 32, and she’s 18… If you think of it like that, it’s kind of ridiculous.

I’m only 32, and she’s already 18… Maybe that’s better.

We’re friends, nothing more, nothing less. I’ve got a wife, and she’s got six boyfriends. On weekdays, she goes on dates with her six boyfriends, and once a month, on a Sunday, she goes on a date with me. On the other Sundays, she sits at home and watches TV. When she watches TV, her face is cute like a walrus.

In 1963, when she was born, President Kennedy was assassinated. Also, I asked a girl out on a date for the first time. Was the song that was popular then maybe Cliff Richard’s “Summer Holiday”…?

Ah, whatever.

In any case, that’s when she was born.

In 1963, I would never have thought that I would be going on dates with a girl who was born in that year. It still seems a little strange to me now, like I’m smoking a cigarette on the dark side of the moon.

The consensus among my friends is that dating a teenage girl is boring. Despite that, they go on dates with teenage girls all the time. Is it that they’ve managed to find girls who aren’t boring? No, that’s not it. Simply put, it is the very boringness of these girls that they find so appealing. While buckets full of boring are being dumped over their heads, they try not to let a drop fall on the girl. It’s a complicated game they enjoy wholeheartedly.

At least, that’s what I think.

The truth is, nine out of ten teenage girls are boring. Of course, they haven’t noticed this. They’re young, beautiful, and full of curiosity. They think that “boring” has nothing to do with them.

Good grief.

This doesn’t mean that I blame them, and it doesn’t mean that I hate them. I like them. They make me remember the time when I was a boring teenage boy. How would you put it, it’s pretty awesome.

“Hey, have you ever thought that you’d like to be 18 again?” she asked me.

“Not really,” I answered.

“You don’t want to be 18 again… Really?”

“Of course.”

“Why?”

“I guess I’m fine the way I am now.”

Putting her elbows on the table, she rested her chin in her hand. Deep in thought, she twirled her spoon around in her coffee cup with a clacking sound. “I don’t believe you.”

“You’d better believe me.”

“But isn’t it cooler to be young?”

“Probably.”

“Then why are you fine the way you are now?”

“Because being 18 once was enough.”

“It’s still not enough for me.”

“But that’s because you’re still 18.”

“Hmmm.”

I flagged down a waitress and ordered my second bottle of beer. It was raining outside, and I could see Yokohama Harbor through the window.

“Hey, when you were 18, what did you think about?”

“Sleeping with girls.”

“Besides that.”

“Just that.”

She giggled and took a small sip of coffee.

“So, were you successful?”

“There were times when I was successful and times when I wasn’t. Of course there were probably more times when I wasn’t.”

“About how many girls did you sleep with?”

“I never counted.”

“Really?”

“I didn’t want to.”

“If I were a guy, I would definitely end up counting. Don’t you think it would interesting?”

I’ve had times when I’ve thought that it wouldn’t be so bad to be 18 again, but when I try to think of the first thing I’d do when I turned 18, I can’t come up with anything.

I’d probably end up dating a charming 32-year-old woman. That wouldn’t be so bad.

“Have you ever thought that you’d like to be 18 again?” I would ask her.

“Let’s see,” she would grin at me while pretending to think about it. “Nope. Well, probably.”

“Really.”

“Yup.”

“I don’t get it,” I would say to her. “You know that everyone says that it’s awesome to be young.”

“That’s right, it is pretty awesome.”

“Well then, why don’t you want to be 18 again?”

“You’ll understand when you’re older.”

But really, I’m 32 years old, and I’ve reached the point where my belly gets flabby if I’m lazy about jogging for just a single week. I can’t go back to being 18. I guess that’s only natural.

When I get back from running in the morning, I drink a can of vegetable juice, plop down into a chair, and listen to the Beatles song “Day Tripper.”

“Daaaaaay-ay tripper…”

When I listen to that song, I feel like I’m sitting in the window seat on a train. Outside, stuff like telephone poles and train stations and railway bridges and cows and horses and chimneys and piled-up garbage quickly passes by. No matter where you’re going, the scenery doesn’t change much. And I used to think that scenery was pretty amazing, too.

“Would you like to change seats with me?” I ask.

“Thanks,” she says. “That’s really kind of you.”

It’s not that I’m kind, I smile bitterly. It’s just that you’re not yet used to how boring it is.

Tired of counting telephone poles,
I’m a 32-year-old
Day tripper.