The five extra inches of legroom, but mostly the selection of about 200 movies makes the 13-hour flight fly by. I start with 'Love Story' while the guy next to me starts on his mission to get 'smashed' (which incidentally is the title of one of the movies offered on this flight). He has a white button-down shirt with the Harley-Davidson logo on the back of the collar, and a goatee. I would not want to mess with him. After he finds out he has to pay with a credit card he says to the flight attendant: "Let me make this easy for you, I'll get three Jim Beam's right off the bat." I'm excited to see 'Love Story' not only because its theme song has provided me with the interval of a minor sixth in ear training classes over the past ten years, but also because it is referenced in an excellent book I just finished reading, A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Dina Nayeri. My neighbor leaves for several minutes, returns with the next batch of mini-bottles of hard liquor. I'm happy for his every shopping spree, for my rigorous attempt at staying hydrated necessitates frequent pitstops, and he's not easy to climb over. I do start to notice the scent of alcohol in his breath sometime during 'Life of Pi'. By now, he's gone from mixing with Diet Coke to throwing them back straight from the bottle. While I'm watching 'Parker', a badass double-crossing-survival-vindication-heist movie, I hear him singing along country songs loudly enough for me to hear through my noise-canceling headphones.
Almost there, after 3 hours total of intermittent sleep. Mr. Harley 'The Voice' Davidson turns out to be a nice guy, he just hates this trip, which he does on business 2-3 times a year. (What business, I wonder?) I'd say it's not so bad, especially after breezing through immigration and customs. (Officially, anything under 30 minutes qualifies as 'breezing'.) My first experience with Japanese ATM's is unproblematic (the pink one won't give me any money, but the green one worked!) and the sliding doors in the bathroom are pretty cool. Our chartered bus takes us through mazes of stacked highways growing out of small rivers. I try to keep myself awake by reading Prosper Mérimée's Carmen, but pass out on page three, just after asking my French colleague for a definition of 'ruisseau'.
We just arrived at our hotel in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo, but according to our tour book it's already Day 2 – we left yesterday, after all. Now: 4:30 pm in Tokyo, 3:30 am in New York. Extraseat and I can't wait to get out and explore!