Johannes Kambanda: Ozi, are you OK?
Ozaki Kaori: A little embarrassed, but I’m OK.
JK: What happened?
Ozi: Trixie slipped me a beef and cheese burrito. I got sick.
JK: Threw up?
Ozi: All over the place.
JK: Was it rotten?
Ozi: Hell if I know. I’m vegan. Meat makes me sick.
JK: What was Trixie thinking?
Ozi: She wasn’t. She didn’t know. She grabbed from the non-vegan stack of burritos.
JK: Are you sure?
Ozi: Are you defending her?
JK: No. But maybe it was the caterer’s fault.
Ozi: J, I barfed on my boss.
JK: Is she a parent?
JK: No, your boss.
Ozi: What does that have to do with anything?
JK: If she’s a mom, then her kids prolly barfed on her before.
Ozi: So what.
JK: Maybe she’s used to barf?
Ozi: Kids and employees ain’t the same thing, Kemp.
JK: Why are you vegan?
Ozi: Why do you eat meat and cheese?
JK: Why are you answering a question with a question?
Ozi: I’m from Japan.
JK: So what.
Ozi: I was raised on a Kobe beef farm.
Ozi: Every night, I’d hear the cattle scream in pain. The calves torn away from their mothers. The sadness. The torture. All for meat.
JK: Sorry. Do you hate me?
Ozi: Why would I hate you?
JK: Because I’m eating a Big Mac right now.
Ozi: Ick. But, no. Practicing veganism is for me, not for you. Being vegan helps me keep a sense of balance in my life.
JK: Wait, you were raised in Japan? When did you come to the U.S.?
Ozi: 1995, I was ten. My parents lost their farm.
Ozi: I hated living on that farm. But even more so, it was difficult to watch us lose our livelihood. My father tried to fight them, but everything unravelled.
JK: What are you doing tonight?
Ozi: The same thing I always do on Friday. Stay in.
JK: Do you ever go out?
Ozi: Not unless I have to.
JK: I’m meeting Trixie for drinks at 8 pm. Join us.
Ozi: Trixie? Um, why?
JK: I like her.
Ozi: Don’t let her know that. She’ll jump your bones.
JK: That’s the idea.
Ozi: I’ll pass. She’s extra. It’s exhausting to be around her.
JK: She’s fun.
Ozi: Johnny Kemp, she will crush you.
JK: I need some excitement in my life.
Ozi: When she breaks your heart, please don’t come to me for consolation.
JK: Ozi, c’mon. I know what I’m getting into.
Ozi: We’ve had this conversation before.
JK: If it helps, she’s the one who invited me out drinks.
Ozi: Of course she did.
JK: Are you mad?
Ozi: No, I just don’t want to see you hurt again.
JK: I’ll be fine.
Ozi: What does Kevin think?
JK: How would I know?
Ozi: He’s your friend. Have you told him?
JK: We share a cubicle. I wouldn’t call him a friend.
Ozi: Have you talked about it with him?
Ozi: What do your guy friends think?
JK: About what?
Ozi: You getting with Trixie.
JK: I don’t have any guy friends.
Ozi: Don’t you think that’s weird?
JK: Do you think it’s weird that you’re vegan?
JK: No offense to Kevin, but all he wants to talk about is sports.
Ozi: Maybe he likes sports.
JK: You think?
Ozi: Do your parents ever ask you about your girlfriends?
JK: My dad could care less.
Ozi: What about moms?
JK: My mom died when I was young.
Ozi: Oh, I’m sorry Johnny. I didn’t know.
JK: It’s not your fault that she died. So don’t be sorry.
Ozi: My sympathies, then.
JK: Sorry. I don’t like to talk about it.
Ozi: I can imagine.
JK: Not sure you can.
Ozi: Try me.
JK: Do you know what a pogrom is?
Ozi: Ethnic cleansing.
JK: My mother was killed in a pogrom in central Africa in the early 90s.
Ozi: I thought pogroms were mostly focused on Jewish communities.
JK: The known ones. This one was a secret pogrom by a central African feudal system that was losing power. My mother got caught up in it.
Ozi: I’m so sorry, Kemp.
JK: I saw it, Ozi. I can’t unsee it.
Ozi: What does Trixie think?
JK: Oh, yeah, that’s great first date conversation material. She’ll be sure to go out with me again after telling her how my mom died.
Ozi: No, I mean . . . how do I say this. What does she think about your black skin?
JK: As far as I know, she likes it.
Ozi: In the sixth months that I’ve known Trixie, I’ve always known her to date white guys.
JK: So what.
Ozi: Doesn’t seem like her M.O.
JK: Trixie is beautiful and smart. She can be with whomever she wants.
Ozi: She seems a little manipulative. Flirts a lot. Impulsive.
JK: She’s a free spirit. Very creative. She’s just expressing herself.
Ozi: She could benefit from meditation.
JK: Not everyone is an introvert, Ozi.
Ozi: I can’t stand being the center of attention. She seems to crave it.
JK: Not everything has to have a deep spiritual center. Sometimes it’s fun to just be with someone for while, however short.
Ozi: Sounds complicated.
JK: That’s why we’re friends, Ozi. You keep me grounded.
Ozi: I don’t know about that. I value my solitude.
JK: What are you doing tonight?
Ozi: Staying in, dumbass.
JK: I know that, but what are you doing when you stay in.
Ozi: Trimming my bonsai.
JK: That can’t take longer than a few minutes.
Ozi: You’d be surprised.
JK: Surprise me.
Ozi: I like to take my time and inspect every millimeter of my bonsai. Focused presence. It’s meditative.
JK: I don’t see how you can sit still like that for hours. Do you ever listen to music when you tend your bonsai?
Ozi: No, I do that afterwards.
JK: You don’t multi-task?
JK: So I guess you never listened to that Zeppelin playlist I made you.
Ozi: I listened to it last Friday.
JK: What did you think?
Ozi: Well, all the songs were about doing it. I couldn’t relate to the unbridled sexuality. The musicianship was outstanding, though. What was the drummer’s name? Bonzo?
JK: Bonham. John Bonham.
Ozi: Loved the arrangements, too. I read up on the band. John Paul Jones did some amazing layering under Plant/Page bravado.
JK: You’re one of a kind, Ozi.
Ozi: I’ll tell you the truth.
JK: So you think this Trixie date is a bad idea?
JK: Thanks, Ozi.
Ozi: You love drama and excitement. I avoid it.
JK: I need my freedom.
Ozi: From what I know of Trixie, she does too.
JK: Maybe she’ll surprise you.
Ozi: Take care, Kemp. Let me know how it goes.