Care for a Canoodle?

Our love might be so easily healed
if only you’d become someone else.

You answer the phone—the landline; the one nobody ever calls—and it’s a woman’s voice, one you don’t recognize. “Do you—do you have a girlfriend?”

Of course you don’t. “Sorry?”

“I just—would you ever feel like maybe going out with me?”

“Um, who is this?” You can’t place the voice. It’s a voice that could be any age, but then again you decide it sounds young. Young and maybe cute. Cute and maybe pretty.

“I got your number from a friend,” she says. “You’re into hip hop, right?”


“Me too. You like strawberry daifuku, right?”


“Me too. Your favorite movie was 300, right?”


“Me too. You like it a little freaky, right?”

You cough.

“Me too! We’re perfect for each other. I know this is out of the blue, but can we meet tonight? Or do you already have plans?”

Of course you don’t. “Yeah, that is… out of the blue.”

“In thirty minutes, in front of Hachiko in Shibuya. Okay?” Her voice is maddeningly alluring.

But Hachiko is always mobbed with people. “Um, like, I don’t actually know what you look like.”

“That’s fine. You’ll see me right away. I’ll be the one with a vacuum cleaner. Okay? See you soon!” She hangs up.

Thirty minutes! You throw on some clean clothes, sprinkle on a bit of the cologne your mother gave you for your last birthday, and rummage through the drawer for a condom. You put it in your shirt pocket. No, make that your wallet. No, you decide the shirt is better. Got to go!

You make it to Hachiko and look around at the girls there. Cute ones, elegant ones, pretty ones, sexy ones. For some reason, Shibuya is wall-to-wall babes today. However, each and every one of them is dragging, pushing, or carrying a vacuum cleaner.

Come to think of it, you saw this on the news, didn’t you? Sōji-kyūto: the latest trend ‘sweeping’ Japan.

Your heart sinks.

Dale Stromberg grew up not far from Sacramento before moving to Tokyo, where he had a brief music career. Now he lives near Kuala Lumpur and makes ends meet as an editor and translator. His work has been published here and there.

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