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Baishakunin, Inc.

Chapter Eight—Match Game

>> Chapter seven

“So who’s going to be matched with who?” Ginnie asks as she licks some green tea/blood orange yogurt from her lips.

We are sitting in a corner table at Céfiore yogurt shop in Japanese Village Plaza in Little Tokyo. I’ve spread the profiles and photos of the 15 women who have applied to my matchmaking service, Baishakunin, Inc. I know that working on a plastic table in a frozen yogurt shop is not that professional, but I had to escape the confines of the office, especially after I told my staff and landlord that our first customer, Rick, was Ginnie’s former boyfriend. That’s a lie, of course. Rick was my old love who had definitely become the object of my hatred. Like an ostrich, I had put my head in the sand for seven years, but now that face—not to mention his application—is staring right at me.

“I can’t believe that Rick, of all people, would be applying to a matchmaking service.” Ginnie turns the engagement ring on her slender finger. “He was always so cocky—thought that he could get any girl in the room.”

“Yeah, it’s amazing what being in your late thirties will do to a person. I guess his mother and sister told him not to give up on Japanese girls even after someone like me.”

Ginnie squeezed my hand. “I’m so sorry. Did you tell Sophia and the rest that you two used to be a couple?”

I look down and shovel an extra big scoop of yogurt and mochi bits into my mouth. “No, I didn’t. So, don’t say anything to them, okay, Ginnie?”

Ginnie dutifully nods. Little does she know that I told everyone that she—and not I—was the woman scorned.

“Anyway, I was thinking about these two for Rick.” I point to the applications of two women who are tall and lean. They are good enough, but nothing spectacular.

Ginnie wipes her hands on a napkin and goes through the profiles. “How about this one?”

Michele Sakanashi. Only 29 years old. Our videographer Kyle had already started calling her TPO, “The Perfect One.” She does seem perfect. Perfect teeth. Perfect skin. Perfect hair. She is a physical therapist at a large hospital in Los Angeles and owns her own duplex in Manhattan Beach. She loves kids and until recently had a dog (in other words, no pets competing for her attention right now). She is eight years younger than Rick but has indicated that age isn’t a big deal for her.

“Or are you going to be saving her for Jake?”

My office landlord, Ginnie’s friend, and I have made a deal that if I successfully find a girl for him; I’ll have free rent for a year. “No, I’m not quite sure.” I bite down on my plastic spoon.

“Wait.” Ginnie pulls on my arm to get a better look at my face. “You’re not falling for Jake, are you?”

“Of course not.”

“Because Jake’s a great guy. His last girlfriend really devastated him. She cheated on him with her ex-boyfriend.”

“You’re kidding me.”

Ginnie shakes her head. “No, she kept telling him that it was over, it was over, but then they happened to run into each other at an American Apparel shop.”

“American Apparel?”

“I know, I know.” Ginnie shook her head knowingly. “They’d keep meeting in the women’s T-shirt section. She obviously still had feelings for him.”

Oh my God. I couldn’t believe it.

“So he’s gun shy. Find a nice girl. A girl who’s not going to be playing any mind games. This one seems normal. I have a feeling that she will be good for Jake. And if you set him up for life, then no more rent for the rest of year.”

“Well, Oizumi-san and I have an appointment to see Michele today.”

“I have a good feeling about this,” says Ginnie.

The problem is, for some reason, I don’t.

***

As it turns out, Michele Sakanashi is not really like her submitted profile and photograph. She is way more attractive, more personable, more kind. In other words: even more likeable. So why am I not liking her?

The same is not true for Kyle, who has spent an extra hour on videotaping Michele. He has footage of her in a chair, standing up, and strolling down First Street. I finally have to take him aside. “Don’t you think that’s enough? I’m not going to pay you extra.”

Kyle doesn’t mind. “Have you done any acting?” I hear him ask her.

“Acting, no way.” She laughs and says that last time she was on a stage was in the third grade playing the Good Fairy in Cinderella.

Finally Kyle signals that he is finished.

Oizumi-san has returned from her last housekeeping job and changed into her kimono in the bathroom hallway. Both of us sit with Michele and Oizumi-san immediately takes a liking to her. “You beautiful girl,” she tells Michele. “How come no husband?”

“Just haven’t had the time,” Michele explains. “I went to PT school right after college and have been working ever since. I’ve only had time to hang out with my dog and now he’s gone, too.” Her eyes clouds over and Oizumi-san even wipes a tear from her own face with the edge of her kimono sleeve.

“So, do you think that you might have a match for me?” she asks Oizumi-san and then looks at me. Her huge brown eyes are rimmed with thick lashes (not fake, by the way).

Hai,” Oizumi-san says. I pass the selected profile to her. “Name is Rick-san.”

Chapter nine >>

* "Baishakunin, Inc." is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogue are drawn from the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

© 2009 Naomi Hirahara / Image: Neal Yamamoto and Vicky K. Murakami-Tsuda

baishakunin Baishakunin, Inc. fiction little tokyo naomi hirahara romance serialized story

このシリーズについて

"Baishakunin, Inc." is a new work of fiction from Naomi Hirahara the author of the Edgar Award-winning Mas Arai mystery series and two biographies published by the Japanese American National Museum. Its main character, Caroline Mameda, starts her own match-making business after being fired from her job. Set in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo.

Read Chapter One