Auld Lang Syne was following me.
I stopped in to the HMV in Shibuya across from the restaurant where Kien and I had a late dinner. The meal was not without incident, but the staff was friendly and apologized repeatedly. As we split up after dinner, I decided to do my CD shopping so that I wasn’t rushing around in the morning.
I wandered about, checking out the various listening posts for the latest Japanese pop, rock and punk music. In the background, music hummed as I mixed among the many teens and twentysomethings crowding the store floor at 10:30 pm on a Saturday night.
I had nearly finished picking out the CDs I was to buy when the background music finally broke through: It was Auld Lang Syne. Floored by the decision to play a repetitive, monotonous song that celebrates the New Year at the end of February, I figured it was time for me to head back to the hotel. I paid for my purchases and ducked out, not wanting to deal with the blank stares at the counter by trying to ask the reason an HMV, with plenty of decent and good music, was playing that lousy song.
After a crowded train ride back to Shinjuku, I walked down the street that led to my hotel, the shuttle bus having long since stopped. The air was cool but not cold, the night peaceful on the relatively quiet street.
And then I heard it again. Auld Lang Syne, emanating from the entrance to a shopping plaza on my right. I picked up my pace when suddenly a sharp pain seared through my left knee. Limping onward, I feld to the hotel as quickly as possible.
Soon, I was covered in a dreamless sleep, with no Auld Lang Syne to be found.