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“Are you ready to leave?”
“Just a sec!”
Which isn’t a “no,” technically. Like, ya could head out as ya are without clippin’ any social mores—‘cause of that alone, anyways.
But there’s a bigger issue at work here.
Or actually a colder one.
Rinnosuke’s voice is the voice of every carpoolmeister who’s had do some excessive idlin’ at the curb. “You’re the one who wanted to go to the festival,” he points out, from the other side of the wall.
“I know, Mac! Gimme a sec!”
See, when ya decided to hook a nap back in the California Bay Area, it was the start of September, and also the California Bay Area. Fall was all set to set in, sure, but it wasn’t like ya had to make any heavy adjustments, not for a city that maybe gets sleet once a year, if even.
‘Cept, course, now you’re not in the California Bay Area. Now you’re in Japan. And Japan? Japan gets cold. You’ve seen enough sauna monkey pics to know that much.
“Even Rumia is better prepared, and I still don’t know where she found that komon!”
“Hey! Not cool, Mac! Lemme just do a thing—”
Well, that’s whatcha say, anyways—“Lemme just do a thing.” Try as ya might, though, the thing remains undone, and at this point you’ve gotta face facts—if the thing is gonna be done at all, it’s gonna be done by not you. Ya divest your hands of the whole tangle and make for bitin’ the bullet: “Hey, Mac?”
“Couldja be a frood and gimme a hand? Please?”
Rinnosuke, rightly assumin’ your don’t-peek edict is now old and busted, comes in through the entranceway. His ‘spression, tangential to irkage, takes in the mess you’re displayin’—and then stops exhibitin’ much in the way of irkage. Or anything at all, for that matter, ‘cept for a jaw slightly dropped.
And then Rinnosuke says: “Are those my clothes?”
“Not all your clothes,” you correct. “The pants’re mine. It’s just the robe, dig?”
“Why are you wearing my clothes?”
“’Cause it’s cold, Mac. I need the layer. I just can’t get the belt right—” Ya give it another tug in front of ya—the belt, or the sash, or whatever it is you’re gonna call it, and of course seein’ as it’s still untied the sec you dehandle it it goes useless loose, regardless how much you’ve twisted the ends over and under. “Is there a special knot you’ve gotta hitch it with?” ya ask. “For all I know I got it right, and then I undid it again.”
Rinnosuke’s mouth works, like he can’t decide whether he’s aimin’ to say one thing or the other. Then he closes his mouth, shakes his head, and goes, “Hold still.”
You hold still. Well, still enough, anyways—your head follows as Rinnosuke approaches, comin’ closer in that deliberate footsteppin’ he’s all ‘bout. And then he’s standin’ right in front of you.
Catch that—kneelin’ right in front of you. “You never bothered with the obi before,” he says, as he starts fiddlin’ with the sash over your waist.
“Ya mean while I was washin’ my clothes?” ya say. “My goal there was kinda just ‘don’t be totally stark.’ I wasn’t plannin’ to do any leapin’ ‘round, then.”
“So you plan to be leaping around now?”
“Well, walkin’, anyways. But I’ve been test-pacin’ and I can’t get this belt to hang on comfy.”
Rinnosuke does a low hmm. And keeps fiddlin’. Then, with a frown fallin’ over his mug basically nimbostratous, he all of a sudden undoes everything he’s done so far, sendin’ the sash ends tumblin’ down again. He starts again, under your great puzzlement, but this time it’s not even an even ten seconds before he does a near-repeat, this time yankin’ his almost-sorta-knot apart, ‘spression illustratin’ vexation.
“Hey, Mac,” ya call.
Rinnosuke stares, lowered brow, which’d be a lot less uncomfy if he weren’t doin’ it so close to your navel. “I’m having a little trouble,” he admits.
“Isn’t this your belt?”
“It’s not a belt—and I’ve never had to tie one from this angle.” He purses his mouth, like he’s comin’ to a decision that doesn’t look too good, and then says, “Turn around.”
Ya turn. Ya hear behind ya, as Rinnosuke stands up.
He stays close. Close enough you can feel ‘im, when he moves, without needin’ visuals to fig how, exactly. So when he tilts his head downwards, sendin’ his breath a slow and steady warmth past the skin of your jaw—yeah, ya get that, clean and clear.
“Don’t move,” Rinnosuke says, quietly. “I need to see what I’m doing.”
His arms move next, slippin’ on over and past your hips to the front of you. Not touchin’—not touchin’ ya much, maintainin’ careful a gap of space between him and you and adjustin’ to keep it whenever his sleeves dip too close—
And then his hands close in, with petal-handlin’ caution, and just sorta light on the not-a-knot across your you.
You can feel that, too. And ya feel it when his hands start movin’—clumsy, of course clumsy, seein’ how he’s workin’ here—findin’ the ends of the sash again and movin’ ‘em back to center—loopin’ one end behind ya, in front of ya, around and over—pullin’ the other end, over and under and through—
“Too tight, Mac,” ya whisper.
“I have to hold both ends at the same time,” Rinnosuke murmurs. “It isn’t easy like this.”
Ya feel the loop loosen, though. And then Rinnosuke lifts one hand, one end—one end, that he tucks in through itself—
And his hands drop away. Arms, too, back where they belong, to the dude’s own sides instead of yours.
“There,” says Rinnosuke.
Whatcha oughta do is take a coupla back-and-forth walks across the room, or jump to see if the deal keeps under strain, but ya don’t “Cool,” ya say, touchin’ the knot just as delicate as he was doin’. “Thanks, Mac.”
“The knot should be in the back, though. You need to slide it around.”
“Yeah? Well, that much I can handle, prolly.”
Ya don’t, yet. Rinnosuke’s still standin’ too close. If ya slide the deal ‘round now, you’ll end up with your elbow in his stomach, or something. That’d be a real foul way of payin’ ‘im back—an elbow in the stomach.
“It’s not the right kind of knot,” continues Rinnosuke. “It’ll hold, but you might gain some attention from it. Still, I didn’t think you’d mind.”
“Yeah. I’m totally okay with this. Like I said—thanks, Mac.”
“I mean it.”
“I know you do.”
“Good. ‘Cause, like—I mean it when I thank ya, y’know? And when I say stuff like ‘you’re awesome.’ I’m not just tryin’ to butter ya up. I seriously mean it.”
“Yeah, well—like I said, good.”
It’s an odd sorta silence that follows. Not bad—ya can’t call it bad, ‘zactly. But there’s something all up in the deal, something you’re havin’ trouble stickin’ your finger on. Like someone switched out the room tone behind it while you weren’t payin’ attention.
Someone—you or Rinnosuke, maybe—takes a deep breath in.
“You’re ready now.”
And that’s not you or Rinnosuke. That’s Rumia, standin’ in the entrance with the barest of tilts.
There’s no springin’ apart all super-dramatic, but it feels like there shoulda been, just then.
You recover first, or at least ya do it audible: “Yeah—check it,” ya say. “Rinnosuke got the belt to stick. Nifty, right?”
Rumia’s eyes dip, takin’ in the duds you’re showcasin’. Her verdict hangs, but after a sec:
“You should wear more clothes.”
“It’s not that cold, is it?”
“You shouldn’t wear more clothes now, because you have more clothes now,” Rumia says. “But you should wear more clothes.”
Ya don’t get it, not at all. And when ya look at Rinnosuke, to see if maybe he’s catchin’ something you’ve missed—
The dude’s eyecorners towards fill up towards ya, just for a sec. But only the sec. And his face’s got nothing to it.
“So, what’s up with the festival?” ya say.
You’re walkin’ through the forest, which’d be just askin’ for an unmarked grave at the best of times, if you were doin’ it alone—so of course, you’re not, obvs. Rinnosuke’s here, a bit to the side and also ahead, pointin’ the party in the right direction, and farther up from that is Rumia, who’s floatin’ a bubble of slight dim with her arms outstretched. Every few seconds she takes off a little, weavin’ ‘round trees and such in a way you and Rinnosuke can’t do anywhere as quick or gravity-unbounded, and you’re almost sure that this time, she’s gonna forget she’s part of this group and leave ya behind, the two of you—but she always slows down at the last second before she can all-the-way fade into evenin’, lettin’ ya catch up before pickin’ up speed and startin’ the whole routine again.
(Incidentally, when ya say “evenin,” ya mean “evenin’”—dusk’s fallen harder than the House of Usher here, and the whole trees-and-also-more-trees deal you’ve got on every side of you—includin’ up—isn’t ‘zactly helpin’ issues with the light. Though, now thatcha think about it, no wonder Rumia’s so zippy right now. If light makes her drowse, this is prolly the other end of the zeitgeber.)
“Tori no Ichi,” says Rinnosuke, and oh, right, ya asked ‘im a question, didntcha. Ya snap to listenin’, better so that none of that scholarly tone the dude’s switched into heftin’ goes to waste. “It’s the day of the bird. Each day of the bird in Shimotsuki is another Tori no Ichi.”
“The present month.”
So November, basically. Ya think. Or at least it maybe is now. There’s no reasonable reason to assume that your months and Rinnosuke’s months match up at both the ends. “Right, so what makes today so birdish, anyways?” ya ask.
Rinnosuke studies your face. Ya spy his brow quirkin’, just a bit, but then it’s back to matchin’ with default Rinnosukeness. At least you’re pretty sure it is—ya only catch a glimpse before Rinnosuke nods in an oh-I-get-it sorta way. “Do you know about the—”
The thing Rinnosuke asks ya if ya know is a coupla morae that’re too vague to glean meanin’ outta without context, of which in this case you’re given bupkis. When ya tell ‘im that no, ya don’t know, he punches out a different set of syllables in your direction, and while ya recognize the part that means “twelve,” there’s still that mystery “shi” that’s eludin’ comprehension. It takes Rinnosuke tracin’ the kanji in the air (he tells Rumia to wait up—she does, glidin’ ‘bout-face to watch the impromptu vocab lesson) before ya get that it’s branches he’s talkin’ ‘bout. Twelve of ‘em, to be exact. Apparently it’s a system for reckonin’ time, based off Jupiter.
Though Rinnosuke calls it the Wood Star, not “Jupiter,” obvs.
‘Cause he’s Japanese, and not Roman.
And speakin’ of branches, here’s Rinnosuke takin’ one up from the forest floor and usin’ it to trace some circles into the dirt—which doesn’t work too well, ‘cause the dirt is mostly grass, which makes it way unsuited to gettin’ geometry traced into it, but anyways the point is that he’s really into ‘splainin’ this to you, actually and ya don’t wanna halt it, not when he’s got his eyes bright and that almost imperceptible upturnin’ at the corner of his mouth—
But while you can listen and nod easy at the dude here jabbin’ on ‘bout how birds go on the west end of the circle, even if ya don’t really get it, once he starts recitin’ how goin’ ‘round the circle clockwise from there ya get dog, i (“i”?), ne, cow—
Yeah, at that point you’re past mostly lost and straight up over the end of the planet’s edge, and if ya wanna properly appreciate you’re gonna hafta stop ‘im there. Which sucks, but you’ll try to make it quick. “Mac?” ya say.
Rinnosuke looks up from his invisible diagram. There’s a moment—and then all at once he sorta catches up to himself standin’ there, and this thing of embarrassment passes over his mug all veillike. He recomposes himself, but that ship’s already sailed and hit an iceberg and brought to light the necessity of makin’ major changes in maritime safety practices; whoops. “Yes?” he says.
“So are there gonna be alotta birds at the festivals? Like boucoup perchin’ cockatoos or something?”
Right, not Japan-native. Dude prolly doesn’t know from cockatoos. “Jacamars,” ya say. Wait, that’s even more not-native. “Buntings. Larks. The family Crow.”
There’s a pause. A whole new host of ‘spressions zip down the Rinnosuke’s Mug ‘Spressway. Then something like recognition pulls to the side of the road and puts its deal in park and: “I expect there’ll be a certain crow at the shrine, yes, but it’s a different kind of ‘bird’ that I mean, at the moment,” he says. Or possibly he says, “it’s a different kind of ‘tori’ that I mean,” which could actually mean something totally different, ‘cause homophones, but either way Rinnosuke takes up with the stick again, pointin’ to the westest section of his little invisible circle.
“As well as its own month, time, and direction, each brach has its own animal,” the dude says, slippin’ back into scholar mode like it’s a comfy set of PJs. “Today’s is the chicken.”
Okay, so it’s not just birds in general that gets the honor here. Though, uh— “The chicken?” ya say. “Like, layin’ eggs and cock-a-doodle-do—that kinda chicken?”
“Yes, that kind of chicken. And then the dog—”
Hey, ya got that one right!
“—the boar, the mouse, the cow...”
“I’ve gotta be honest, Mac—this reads less like a system for time and more like a sorta hinky dinner menu.”
Ya get The Look for that, which is all kindsa nostalgia, but also fleetin’ ‘cause it quickly morphs into just mostly confusion. “I understand chicken, boar, cow, and even dog, under certain circumstances, but I wouldn’t imagine mouse as dinner,” says Rinnosuke.
“Yeah, me neither, but apparently there’s this rat about yay size in Middle Africa?” Ya hold your hands ‘bout a forearm apart, which elicits a satisfyin’ goggle from a Rinnosukewards direction. “I mean, I dunno myself, but my mom's mom's sister's husband's brother sent pictures. And also a recipe. But mostly pictures.”
Rinnosuke twists his mug in a way that ‘spresses perfectly clear what he thinks re: the order Rodentia and the consumption of its members by human beings. Or also the conumption of its members by any half-youkai named Rinnosuke Morichika, ya guess. “And this is done willingly?”
“I’m not sure the rat has any choice in the matter, Mac.”
The Look again! It’s like a blast from the past, today. “What I’m asking is,” says Rinnosuke, “it isn’t because of lack of choice, or from desperation?”
“Oh—no way, Mac. This stuff’s a delicacy—is what he said, anyways. And, plus, like, I dunno if it wasn’t just that he got a really awesome cook, but half the letter was just him ravin’ over it—tossin’ out a whole lotta adjectives.”
“And are adjectives unusual for the letters you receive?”
“No, I mean a whole lotta adjectives. Adjectives like ‘juicy.’ And ‘succulent.’ And ‘fall-off-the-bone tender.’ And ‘wonderful layer of melted fat.’”
There’s a weighty second where three dudes in a forest stand in that forest (or float, in Rumia’s case), heads tilted the better to consider the imagery thatcha dropped there just now. Not sayin’ anything—just considerin’. And then:
“Those last two weren’t adjectives, strictly,” says Rinnosuke.
“I’m hungry now,” says Rumia.
“So you weren’t hungry before, then?”
“I was hungry before,” says Rumia, pleasantly aggrieved, “but I’m also hungry now.”
“Yes, of course you are,” says Rinnosuke. He tilts his head backwards, far enough to prominence clear the apple of his throat—and call it a hunch, but ya doubt he’s thinkin’ ‘bout mouse meat again. Then he takes a deep breath, settles his chin back to level, and continues: “We’ll make it to the shrine. If today is anything like the last Tori no Ichi, there should be food stalls set up by now.”
Assuaged by the concept of vittles awaitin’, Rumia brightens, which is kinda ironic in terms of word choice, considerin’. She floats back-to-front and back to point forwards. To be honest, you’re feelin’ similar—after all that talk ya spouted on prime kinda edibles, you could use something to gnaw on yourself.
Only problem—or biggest problem, anyways: “I kinda don’t have cash on me,” you admit.
Rinnosuke doesn’t say anything. And then Rinnosuke says, “I know.”
And with that, like those words out the dude were some sorta signal—you’re all on again, shrinewards, Rumia first, then Rinnosuke behind, and then finally you, walkin’ in Rinnosuke’s footsteps.
Well, ya can’t complain, if you’re gonna be honest with yourself. Rinnosuke’s bein’ nice enough to lead ya to the festivities at all—you ‘spectin’ ‘im to unload his pockets for munchables on top of that is just unreasonable, for realsies.
Besides, when ya consider whatcha do have—a pad to hanginaround in, nice meals, a guide (i.e. Rinnosuke), two of the most awesome dudes ya coulda ever buddied with, (fifty percent of which is Rinnosuke), Rinnosuke—
Seriously, when you’ve already got it all like that, who cares ‘bout some snacks?
Yeah. No doubt about it.
It’s all gravy.
The movement outta sheer forestage and into civilization is a sorta sudden one. One moment you’re trekkin’ your way through what’s basically an obstacle course of trees—
And then ya sidestep a trunk around, and yo—a path, comin’ in under your feet basically perpendicular. And not only that, but dudes.
Well, just a coupla dudes.
A coupla dudes in nice-lookin’ robes. A man and a woman, in fact. Their faces turn atcha as ya basically spill outta the forest all upon ‘em. It’s gotta be a sight to see, from their perspectives—first this cheery-lookin’ girl floats her way outta the darkness. Then this stern-lookin’ glasses-wieldin’ dude just sorta steps in their way like a thief springin’ his ambush on a pair of travelers.
And then finally, there’s you, and while you wanna say your relaxed and amblin’ demeanor oughta be puttin’ this audience at ease, ya can’t deny that your mode of dress isn’t the coordinatedest. It’s fine as far as you’re concerned, of course, but it’s prolly not ever gonna see itself swaggered down the runway, not with the top half from Gensokyo and the bottom half de Nîmes. De Gênes?
Well, wherever it’s de, it’s definitely part of the package these dudes prolly didn’t ‘spect to see trompin’ outta the tulgey wood. And honestly? The deal’s sorta mutual. Which is why you, Rinnosuke, the dude, and the other dude just spend a moment there doin’ some equally mutual starin’.
(Rumia doesn’t, of course—she’s totally okay with the current sitch as she looks between the all of ya—but that’s Rumia.)
And then, like dudes tryin’ their best not to provoke a tooth-bearin’ predator (which Rumia technically is, ya guess), the robed pair of surprisees inch a circle ‘round ya, arms cautiously aloft so that even their sleeves don’t brush (yo, Aladdin)—and, once they’re clear, march a mean tryin’-not-to-look-like-a-mean-hustle hustle down the path away.
So that happened.
For a sec Rinnosuke just stands there longer, starin’ off after ‘em, his mug doin’ a real complicated twist. Ya don’t know what it means, but ya don’t like it, so ya nudge ‘im to recapture his attention—and erase it, more importantly. “Which way, Mac?” ya say.
Rinnosuke’s return to the present isn’t unbumpy, but he gets there. Uh, here. “This way,” he says, pointing the opposite direction from the departers. “They must have been leaving.”
“Their loss. More festivities for us, right, Mac?”
Rinnosuke does something that might be a nod, or might just be the natural bobbin’ of his head as he moves into walkin’ mode. But other than that? No answer.
Anyways—turns out that coupla passersby was the first two of a whole bunchload, ‘cause now that you’re on an actual road, dudes are a thing. The sight of ‘em, obviously, but the sound, too—bits of convo comin’ atcha, flowin’ on the wind from you-dunno-where. It’s a good sign you’re gettin’ closer, as ya dodge and duck the stares that come outta havin’ your party headed by a little dude who floats (though nobody actually does any short-stoppin’, unlike that first time—prolly ‘cause you three’ve cut out the whole burstin’-outta-the-forest element).
The road finally ends at a grand-lookin’ stone staircase shootin’ up a hill that makes your legs ache just considerin’ it—but seein’ as there’s clearly everyone else goin’ up and/or down the thing without open gripin’, you choke it down and make with the ankleliftin’. Surprise twist: It’s as tedious walkin’ up the thing as ya thought it was gonna be, and it isn’t long till you’re gettin’ real envious of Rumia and her ability to ignore gravity. You’re startin’ to feel like less of a potential festival-goer and more like the ultimate dude in a coffle (the fact that you three’re maneuverin’ in a straight line doesn’t help), when finally ya crest over the top—
And yo, look at all those lights.
Look at all those dudes.
Look at all those lights and look at all those dudes.
There’s paper lanterns for days—alotta small ones, strung up overhead, pole to pole, and large ones, too, hangin’ off the sides of set-up stalls like to act as mothbait. Painted kanji and fancy decorations. Robes and robes and robes and robes, and even if ya don’t know from robes when they’re Japanese you can tell, here and there, that the dudes wearin’ ‘em are wearin’ ‘em to the nines. And speakin’ of the dudes: There’s alotta dudes—didja mention that already? ‘Cause there are. A whole lotta dudes, that is, spread over the locale like dude butter on shrine-ground toast, a whole host of dazzlees rhubarb-rhubarb-rhubarbin’ into the night.
It’s kind overwhelmin’, if you’re gonna speak first impressions. ‘Specially since you’ve been spendin’ the last two months plus under the same quiet roof—or mostly quiet, anyways. Point is, maybe you’d better focus on something specific before the overstimulation drives ya into a shutdown.
“Hey, Mac, what’s with the things?”
Yeah, things—by which ya mean those things that everyone and their uncle’s luggin’ with ‘em here. It’s a good topic, is whatcha think, ‘specially considerin’ thatcha can’t ID what they are, even. At first glance ya mighta thought they were fans, ‘cept no, they’re not, fannish handle notwithstandin’. Castin’ an eye as one passes closer, they’re more like...trinkets? Just a buncha shiny little trinketesque stuff, like what maybe you’d get out a bag of party favors or something. ‘Cept, instead of bein’ in a bag, all this stuff—and it’s a good amount of stuff, you’ve gotta say—is on that ya-already-mentioned handle, like some sorta bouquet of kitsch.
“The things everyone’s holdin’—those things.” Ya mime, for illustration. “What’re those?”
Rinnosuke blinks atcha. “You’re talking about the rakes?”
Rakes? Either you’ve misheard him or he’s misheard you. “Sorry, Mac, but didja say ‘rakes’? Like whatcha-use-to-sweep-up-dead-leaves rakes?”
“Do you not have rakes on the Outside?”
“We do have rakes, it’s just—they’re longer, usually. And also usually they don’t have a buncha stuff attached to ‘em. What’s up with that?”
For a sec longer Rinnosuke’s still just lookin’ atcha—but then he does a short nod, like some realization’s come ripe. “I see,” he mutters. “She couldn’t recognize it as a rake.” And then, at regular-voice levels: “Those are auspicious items—charms for good luck, and the like. As part of Tori no Ichi, people sell these rakes as a way of praying for success in business. You could say that with so many charms, they’re trying to ‘rake in’ fortune.”
Now that he mentions it, alotta stalls you can see here seem to be displayin’ that merch—those rakes he’s talkin’ ‘bout. Still, you’re sensin’ a big, Rinnosuke-shaped hole in the plot. “Why’ven’t you got a stand standin’ here, then?”
‘Cause, face it—if there’s a dude who could use some positive biz? It’s this guy, Mr. Has-Had-a-Worryin’-Number-of-Visitors-Try-to-Smash-Up-His-Shop-Recently.
Rinnosuke, though, rather than reactin’ with a reasonable “What an awesome idea!” gets a look to his mug like he’s got his gum stuck in his braces. This, even though he doesn’t have braces, so that’s extra-impressive. “I suppose it’s not something I’m too concerned about,” he offers ya, sorta pathetically.
And, well—part of ya wants to cry, “Yo, I sense bull,”—but it’s not like ya know anything ‘bout proper Gensokyo prayer, right?
“If ya say so, Mac. Anyways—” Who needs segues? Not you. “—this place is pretty bustlin’. Like, even if it’s just lookin’, I’m havin’ a blast, I’ve gotta say.”
Rinnosuke’s face relaxes. Guess he swallowed his gum (which, y’know, seven years, but that’s an ish for later). “I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself,” he says.
“Yeah, me too. There’s alotta sweet stuff to just rubberneck at. Plus, some stuff that’s almost the same but different. Like, in California we’ve got the right to bear arms? But it looks like here you’ve got the right to bear hands, instead!”
“Yes,” says Rinnosuke.
A second passes.
“Wait. No.” says Rinnosuke. “What?”
“It looks like here you’ve got the right to bear hands, instead!”
Rinnosuke’s brows furrow. He looks at you leerily, like ya do before ya ask someone if they’re sick. He doesn’t ask if you’re sick, though. Instead he says, real carefully, “That’s what I thought you said.”
A second passes. Somewhere in the crowd, a kid laughs. Or maybe it’s something that looks like a kid. Either way, ya catch a glimpse of dress in the midst of all those robes. Then it’s gone.
“In California, we’ve got the right to bear arms,” ya say, “But it looks like here you’ve got the right to bear hands, instead!”
“Is this another one of your references? I keep telling you that I don’t understand them.”
“This is better than a reference, Mac. It’s wordplay.”
Rinnosuke’s brows furrow furrowier. “How is this wordplay?”
“Okay, see, in English, ‘bear’ means, like, ‘to possess’ or ‘to carry.’ And ‘arms’ means something like ‘weapons’ or ‘ordnance.’ But ‘bear’ can also mean ‘bruin’ and ‘arms’ can mean the body you’ve got between your shoulders and your wrists. And in Japanese, the kanji in ‘rake’—”
“’Bear’ and ‘hand.’”
“Yeah! Ya get it, Mac? Ya get it?”
“Yes, I get it.”
A second passes. A third one, kinda ironically.
“But also, I guess it’s not as funny as it woulda been if I hadn’t needed to walk ya through it,” you admit.
“It isn’t, no,” says Rinnosuke. “I’m not sure what you thought would happen when you told a joke that required specific knowledge of both the Japanese and English languages.”
“Primarily, I thought I’d’ve told a joke that required specific knowledge of both the Japanese and English languages.”
Rinnosuke pauses, but this one’s too short to call a second. “Well, I can’t say you’re wrong.”
“Technically correct is the best kinda correct, Mac. Now how ‘bout we make ourselves part of his scene?”
[ ] There’s a crowd over there. What’s that about?
[ ] Hey, check it. That dude over there’s starin’ at us.