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Handsome American weeping boy

By Cathy Ulrich

If I were an Ikemeso Danshi in Japan, it would be so easy for me to disguise myself as a boy. I would borrow one of my Japanese boyfriend’s silk suits, the one he would never wear. It would be hanging in the back of our closet, behind our summer yukata.

Can I borrow this, I’d say, and hold it up against my body.

If I were an Ikemeso Danshi in Japan, I would have to bind my breasts under my Japanese boyfriend’s silk suit. I wouldn’t wear makeup, and I’d keep my hair short. I’d see if I could get some hair growing on my upper lip. Not a lot, but enough so that crying Japanese girls would think I was a pretty boy. I would take up smoking so my voice would be rough and low. I would use kimi instead of anata for you, the way men do.

If I were an Ikemeso Danshi in Japan, I would be part of a crew of other handsome weeping boys. We’d each have a role to play, like in boy bands: the sensitive one, the bad boy, the American. Tanigawa would be the dentist, and he’d carry round a little mirror on a stick.

Why would Japanese women want to be comforted by a dentist? I’d ask.

Tanigawa would shrug. Who knows?

If I were an Ikemeso Danshi in Japan, Tanigawa and I would be sent to special company meetings. We would have videos cued up to play for the office ladies. It would always be office ladies at the special company meetings, with navy skirts and beautiful posture. Our videos would have a dying animal in them, or a lost child.

How sad, the office ladies would say. Don’t you think it’s sad?

So sad, Tanigawa and I would agree, handkerchiefs ready. We would dip in, delicate as pigeons, and dab their tears away.

Isn’t that better now? we would say.

Thank you, handsome dentist weeping boy, the office ladies would say. Thank you, handsome American weeping boy.

When the special company meeting was over, Tanigawa and I would slip out the back door in our silk suits. Tanigawa would bum a smoke from me.

Some nice work, huh? he’d say.

If I were an Ikemeso Danshi in Japan, I would hang up my Japanese boyfriend’s silk suit in the closet when I got home to our twelve-tatami apartment. I would smooth the collar with my hand, wipe at the tear streaks the office ladies had left when they pressed themselves against me.

It must be so nice, I would say, to be able to just cry like that.

Do you need to cry? he would say.

I’d say: No, why would I need to cry? I’m happy here.

I’d say: I’m so happy here.

Cathy Ulrich is a writer from Montana. Her work has appeared in various journals, including Firefly Magazine, The Airgonaut, Lunch Ticket and Superstition Review. This piece appeared first in Anti-Heroin Chic.


  1. A gorgeous integration of text and images.

  2. I enjoy the kindness; the joy and frienlyness. I enjoy the tenderness; the loving . The. Non violance off it . Good


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