I was 21 the first time I ever ate sushi. This was, oddly enough, in Scottsdale, Arizona, where you do not think of fresh raw fish, just dust and dirt and scorpions and lizards. Nonetheless, I was up for the experience and we ended up at quite a nice place called Ayako of Tokyo. I was with my boyfriend and a childhood friend of his, which also was then his boss at the hotel they both worked at in Scottsdale. I might mention here that the boss/friend, Bob, was also completely nuts and completely drunk most hours of the day or night.

We sat at the sushi bar, and I was instructed on what to try by the guys, already sushi pros. Of course, they made me try uni, which looks and tastes like infant crap, and also octopus that you could chew on for five days or so. I ended up getting a California roll, some salmon, tuna, all the stuff most folks new to sushi tend to like, and I thought it was all marvelous. The sake was burn-y in my chest, and I noticed Bob downing them at a remarkable and expensive rate.

The waitresses were all very proper Japanese geisha-type women, and they would come behind the sushi bar to deliver the orders from the people in other parts of the restaurant to the very busy sushi chefs. About halfway through our meal, Bob waited until one of the waitresses had her back to us but was very close. He then let out an A-bomb of a belch. It overrode all sound in the restaurant, even the tink-tink-tink of the koto music, and the other diners' chatter, and the clomp clomp of the sushi knife cutting the rolls into little cylinders. BRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP! As my boyfriend and I looked over at him in total horror, in that second Bob with perfect timing looked at me with an even-more horrified look and shouted with a gasp, "MARIANNE!!!!"

The waitress whipped around to face us, turned her eyes on me in total and complete disgust, scowled, and strode off in a huff before I could even stammer, "It-it-it- wasn't ME!!! REALLY!" The guys broke into convulsive laughter while I sat there, red-faced and mortified but amused as well. Dammit. I was had.

For the rest of the meal whenever the waitress would come by me she would shoot daggers and make fluffy disgust sounds, which just made the guys laugh even more.

We finished, and I endured the evil looks of ALL the waitresses as I slunk from the restaurant. Clearly, the one told the others about the filthy stomach-gas-emitting American woman at the sushi bar. We got to the parking lot as the sun was going down, 100 degrees or more, palm trees bending only slightly in the hot breeze. We laughed, and I kicked Bob's yellow BMW. He then drove us home in a car ride best described as one part NASCAR, one part Tilt-A-Whirl, and one part Death Wish.

Lessons Learned: Do Not Go Out To Eat With Bob. Never, Ever, Ever, Ever Drive With Bob, Especially After You Kicked His Car And He Was Smashed On Sake.

I have yet to belch in a sushi restaurant to this day.