Fluzilla Zaps Tokyo

By Dave Fox
Over the Bering Sea, somewhere near the International Date Line

I’m looking at the in-flight video map right now en route from Seattle to Tokyo, and I can’t help but notice that in the north, around the Bering Sea, the International Date Line is really an International Date Zig Zag. My theory is that the Date Line People must have started in the south, and once they hit the upper quadrant of the Northern Hemisphere, they got a little  woozy. I don’t have a theory as to whether this wooziness was caused by drunkenness or seasickness. I am just making an observation.

I’m not sure if it’s Tuesday or Wednesday right now. Looking at the diagram on the screen, our plane is actually straddling the Date Line, one wing in each day. Also, according to the screen, our plane is roughly the same size as Korea.

What I know for sure it is not is Monday. This is unfortunate. Monday is the day I was supposed to leave Seattle. I was supposed to fly to Tokyo, hang out for 24 hours, and write an article about how ridiculous it is to go to Tokyo for just 24 hours. I was going to take in the cherry blossoms, which are rumored to be blooming, and attempt to score some sake in Ueno Park. I was going to sleep in a capsule hotel, described by one American expat on Twitter as “coffin-like.” I was going to seek out Tokyo nightlife, and shopping mayhem in the electronics district. I was going to push through my jet lag, albeit with a whimper or two, and get completely disoriented in a culture I know little about.

Instead, I got the flu.

The flu hit a week ago. My doctor had reassured me I’d be fine by Monday. But “fine” is a relative thing. I found myself, Sunday afternoon, wanting nothing more than to snore for about 38 hours.

Reality hit Sunday night around 9 p.m. when I realized I had about six hours worth of stuff to do, and my body was screaming at me to go to sleep. If I wanted, I could delay my trip a day and skip my Tokyo stopover.

“Don’t decide now,” my girlfriend, Kattina, said to me. “Go to bed. Wake up early. You know how to pack fast when you need to.”

I slept fitfully. By 4 a.m. Monday, my mind was made up. Running around Tokyo in 50-degree drizzle with the remnants of the flu was not going to fix the severe fatigue that had kept me down all week. I didn’t want my fever to relapse in Vietnam. Tokyo could wait for another trip.

Of course, that is also what I said 20 years ago about Eastern Europe after I came down with a nasty cold in Turkey and decided to scrap my planned train ride north via Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Poland. “Eastern Europe isn’t going to change overnight,” I wrote in my diary, thinking I could come back and see those countries in a few years and they’d be exactly the same.

Four months later, the Berlin Wall toppled.

So here’s a personal message to the good people of Tokyo: Please don’t change. No revolutions or diseased cherry blossom epidemics or Godzilla attacks until after I can come visit, okay? It’s going to feel sad, a few hours from now, changing planes quickly in your airport and zipping straight on to Vietnam. But sometimes when we’re traveling and we get sick, we have to change our course.

Maybe that’s what happened to the guys who were plotting the Date Line.


[Rubber Duckie Nurse Photo: Joshua Smith]

Published on Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Leave a Reply