Here is a picture of me and some strangers in Kyoto a few years ago. They were all from England and Australia. I have never forgotten that the woman whose hand I’m shaking was named Gidget. What a name!

We were all drinking these Kirin lemon vodka things. At some point we ran out and so I accompanied this insane French guy to a nearby convenience store to get some more. It was snowing outside and we were very cold. When we got to the convenience store he grabbed a huge plastic milk crate they were using to unload loaves of bread and filled it with lemon vodkas from a fridge in the back. The staff there looked horrified. He was just chucking dozens of these things into the milk crate, which I’m sure was a pretty weird and rude thing to do! We got maybe 40 or 50 of them. We cleaned the place out. He paid for the whole thing.

On the walk home he told me had left Hong Kong in a hurry because he had stabbed someone over a gambling debt (???) and maybe that person was no longer alive. To which I said: “Oh, baby.”

Anyway when we got back I gave Gidget a few of those lemon vodka things and she shook my hand and complimented that absolutely godawful “haircut” I had at the time.

The guy in the back with the ill-fitting sweater and equally bad haircut was a big time jerk. I caught him kissing a girl who had passed out! He tried to carry her back to his room in the hostel and I said, “Hey man, come on!” He told me to piss off! I grabbed her friends and they rescued their friend from this cheesedick psychopath.

I went upstairs and took a shower. I had pulled a muscle in my leg and walking around 15–20 miles a day in the dead of winter was miserable with a bum leg, so I held the shower nozzle over my pulled muscle and tried stretching and bending it. I don’t know why but I also remember sitting down and crying for a long time.