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American Woman

The Top
Last month, I hit the ¥5000 mark. To earn this premium hourly wage, I needed to make a minimum of ¥700,000 in sales. That’s right: my customers spent a total of at least that much on me, and that’s just at the club. It doesn’t include the dinners, the gifts and the taxi fares home.

This wasn’t just a happy coincidence though, the natural upshot of being charming and agreeable. It was the result of a concerted effort. About halfway through the month, I noticed that I’d already made significant sales, enough to earn the ¥4000 wage that usually takes me a whole month’s worth of sales to reach. I’d always been content with that wage, and my sales always left me comfortably in the bottom half of the top ten rankings at the club. However, this month I had the potential to be one of the top girls. For the first time in ages I sensed a return of my old ambitious, goal-oriented self. 

I doubled my efforts to ring up my customers and them send them cutesy, “please won’t you come see me” e-mails. And it worked. I was doing dohan two or three times a week and running around the club entertaining multiple tables at once. But this also meant meeting customers for lunch during the week and going out with them for drinks after we left the club—all acts designed to make them feel special, that they were more than just a customer.

More than one started to expect a little bit more. T (the customer who bought me a beautiful, expensive yukata a few months ago) had been taking me for weekly dohan recently. He was also pushing for me to see him on the weekend, take a river cruise, go away to an onsen…

I told him that, “as much as I would like to, I didn’t have any free time” and he finally decided he had had enough—we argued and then he “broke up” with me. Just like any real break-up, it was draining. I felt bad. He called me drunk and ask to see me. I got angry. He called back and apologized. I went back to feeling bad.

Part of feeling bad (well, guilty, really) was knowing that my sales would suffer. T was never a big spender but I counted on his consistent visits to the club. I would have to work extra hard just to make my regular wage. Just thinking about working for sales makes me want to curl up under the covers and never leave my bed.

A lot of girls choose to work over the holidays. Christmas is the perfect excuse for shopping trips and ordering bottles of Dom Perignon (which comes with a ¥10,000 kickback). While definitely tempting, I will take the rest of the month off and go home instead. It’s a risk: while I’m away my customers might lose interest or get picked up by other hostesses.

But I am feeling a little burned out and want to go home and feel “normal” for a few weeks. Or rather, to remind myself that this lifestyle is not normal, as it has come to feel lately: I spend most of my time in the night world and with night people.

Of course, it will be interesting trying to explain to everyone back home (small town America!) what I do for a living. Hey, random boy who sat next to me in freshman geometry, are you reading this now? “Nika” is not my real name, for obvious reasons.