No.003 “Oh Man, I Got a Pettako…”

Kenzuke Ishizu, father of the ivy look and founder of VAN JACKET, has passed away. It’s very sad news to me, having worn VAN blazers with affection for over 30 years ever since my elementary school days. I’ve written more on Kenzuke Ishizu and VAN in the “Back from Paris” column, featured in issue 11 of Lucky Raccoon that goes on sale June 25th, so look forward to that. Today, however, I’ll be talking about plastic bottles.

Plastic bottles. Whether they’re filled with green tea, black tea, juice, cola or mineral water, they’ve become an indispensable part of our everyday lives. However, the other day when I was in Sapporo, I saw Kaki no Tane being sold in plastic bottles. It felt really out of place at first glance, but when you think about it, that way you can eat as much as you like when you like, they’re protected against moisture when you close the cap, and you can carry it in your bag without having them spill out or crumble, so it actually makes a lot of sense.

But what really pleased me was seeing this brand of barley tea or something sold in plastic bottles with the label saying “made from lightly pickled Ebara vegetables.” Because that’s exactly right, isn’t it? If you wanted barley tea back in the days, your mom had to boil the ingredients at night and put it in the fridge to cool in a plastic or glass container. That was how you got it back in those days. The senior high students would recite stories of how they’d returned home from their club activities: “when I got back, I was so freakin’ thirsty, I just grabbed the barley tea and drank it all in one go. Man, ugh… it was actually noodle sauce…“. That was the slightly silly story you’d constantly hear back then.

Looking back, it’s one of those things that to me was representative of the summers in Japan. I wonder, though… these days, everything’s sold in plastic bottles. Moms that are boiling ingredients at night just to make barley tea because it’s summer… I have a feeling they’re getting scarce. It’s exactly because it’s a time like this that things “made from lightly pickled Ebara vegetables” are a beacon of hope. “When I got back, I was so freakin’ thirsty, I just I grabbed the green tea and drank it in one go. Man, uggh… it was actually “made from lightly pickled Ebara vegetables”…“. I’m hoping that’s going to be a nationwide, slightly silly recurring incident this summer.

Likewise, another plastic bottle product I have high hopes for is the “Ebara kimchi” one. The day they start selling it with a label that looks just like the one for vegetable juice, it won’t be limited to just the average senior high school student, but his dieting big sister, too. I don’t know why, but just the entirely possible scenario of her taking a big swig of kimchi early in the morning is enough to make me feel excited in anticipation.

I think many of you may have lost interest already, so I’ll get back on topic. In this everyday life of plastic bottles, I think all of you readers, too, are on a daily, endless cycle of opening and closing those bottle caps. I’m sure of it. Day after day, even I’m constantly sipping on bottled tea or whatever, whether it’s during rehearsal, when driving, when writing these columns, even when I’m not doing anything at all. In the era of cans, even if some of your drink remained, you were forced to throw it away. With plastic bottles you now have the cap, so you can just close it, take it home with you, put it in the refrigerator and you’ll be able to drink it the next day, so it’s economical, too. I never counted, but I’ll be opening and closing those caps tens, no, maybe even in excess of a hundred times each and every like it’s nothing.

Therein lies a potential dreadful modern era illness — and me warning you about it is actually the main purpose of my column this week.

I will be telling you the honest truth as to how I personally fell a victim to this illness. There should be a picture below starting to come into your view right about now, yes? Everyone, please try holding the plastic bottle nearest to you right now. If you’re right-handed, when you open and close the cap, the inner parts of your first and second joints of your right index finger, and the base and first joint of your thumb will come in contact with the cap. If you continue opening and closing caps in this manner for extended periods of time, the skin on the parts coming in contact with the cap will lose keratin (a phenomenon I call “pettako“) and that can eventually result in a crack forming on your skin (what I call a “pegire“.) And a “pegire” hurts. It hurts when you wash your hands, when you get in the bath, when you forget about it and open your car door with it, and the absolute worst is when you’re cooking and you squeeze some lemon on it.

But there’s no use in worrying about it. Just for the readers of this column, I’ve come up with some precautionary measures to avoid “pettako” and “pegire” for those of you worried about them. It’s quite simple, really. The main issue here is the constant repetition of opening and closing the cap. Doing so each time with different parts of your fingers — thus creating a countless number of different methods of opening and closing the cap — wouldn’t just be artistic, but satisfying as well.

But there is an even better, extremely simple method: it’s keeping the number of times you close and open the cap as low as possible. In other words, it’s making it so that after you open it once, there’s no need to close it again. In short: just chug down your entire drink. See? Isn’t that simple? Oi Ocha, Iyemon Ocha, Gogo no Koucha Royal whatever, Pocari, Evian, Diet Pepsi, CC Lemon, whatever you’re drinking, just drink all of it in one go. That’s what it is to be a real man. At next year’s welcoming party for new students, you’ll be able to outshine everyone there. No doubt about it. So go ahead. Drink! Drink! Drink! Drink! …

Oh dear. What a weird column this was.

Pettako & pegirePettako & pegire


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