I will never forget the first time we had liberty call in Yokosuka, Japan. My friend Leo and I went ashore to check the place out.

After spending some time in the Cabaret Black Rose and had a couple of cool ones we started getting hungry and decided to get something to eat. Suddenly, we remember we were in another country faraway from our hometowns. There was no way we were going to be able to order “Tacos,” “Enchiladas,” much less “Chile Rellenos” with beans. Leo said not to worry, he knew how and what to order. Once we found a restaurant, we thought we liked, we went in and sat down. A Japanese waiter quickly presented us with a menu. I for one did not know what to do with it. Everything was in Japanese. I asked my friend Leo what he was going to order. I figured he knew because he kept on looking at the menu like as if he was reading it. Soon a Japanese waiter showed up, Leo told him to get us some Saki, and he pointed to some plate on the menu. I sat there and took in the scenery.

The waiter at once brought us the Saki and he placed it delicately on our table.

Being Hispanics, for some reason we decided to treat the Saki like as if it was a shot of “Tequila.” We gulped the Saki in one “wham” and asked the waiter for some lemon wedges. The waiter noticing what we had done, and with his eyes growing as big as the eyes on the fish heads, he had brought us, stared at us straight in our eyes. The waiter said something about the Saki, with his eyes popping out of their sockets, and by expression and sign language, we gathered that Saki was not supposed to be treated that
way. I was not paying too much attention to his rebukes since, I was surprised and shocked to see a plate in front of me filled with fish heads, with huge popping eyes on white rice. Needless to say, our first dinner in Japan was white rice.

Before leaving the Cabaret Black Rose, my friend Leo got the scare of his life. We had been relaxing and drinking an ice, cold, beer in a can. After a while, when we were about ready to leave, Leo crushed the empty can of beer like they do in Topeka, Kansas to show their strength and machismo. I guess. Suddenly, a Japanese man, of short stature, got off the bar stool where he had been seating. He approached my friend Leo in an angry and almost criminal way and started yelling at the top of his lungs in Japanese at Leo.

Both Leo and I sat frozen on our bar stool not knowing what was going on, and much less why the Japanese man was so upset at Leo.

The bartender came over and started calming the Japanese man. After an eternity, the angry and with murder in his eyes Japanese man left the bar. It was then the bartender told us in broken English the man had gotten upset because Leo crushed the beer can, as they do in Topeka, Kansas. He went on to explain that in Japan the tin from the cans are a livelihood to the Japanese people. They made a living making little cars and all kinds of trinkets from the tin cans. In short, Leo was destroying their economy.
After all that had happened to us on our first outing in Japan, Leo and I decided to be enlightened with the Japanese culture before we went on liberty again.