The Birthday Party

The day for the party had come, The Designer Club was incredibly decorated, there was a piano, bass, guitar and drums quartet that played quietly, acoustically and sometimes accompanied one of Japan’s best singers who Gianni had just found out was a regular guest at The Designer Club. Several other tables had been placed in the main room and it seemed to Gianni that every seat was taken and everyone had a seat. This was a well-organized party! The food and drink was abundant and it clearly was a party for a big event.

Kamei san sat at the head of the big table, Kumiko was next to him at the corner and Gianni was opposite her. As the dinner ended there arrived a tandem of gifts like Gianni had never seen. He was amazed at the grace and poise that Kumiko accepted them. There were blouses, purses, wallets, hairpieces, books, and one terrible pair of GOLD sequined high-heeled shoes that brought the whole room to laughter. Kumiko was personal and gracious with everyone, Gianni even mused over the possibility that sometime during her extraordinary education she must have also gone to some special princess school. Before Gianni realized it, the last gift, except for the overwhelming announcement that Kamei san would soon make, was the necklace from him.

She opened it, took it, and after a moment of quiet, held it to her heart and got up, went around the end of the table and gave Gianni a kiss.

“Where did you ever find such a thing?”

“I designed it”.

“You designed it! You never told me you designed jewelry.”

“Oh, sorry, I guess I just forgot.”

Kumiko took the necklace through the whole room and showed it to everyone, finally showing it to her father. Kamei san took the piece in his hands and looked at it from every possible angel with every possible lighting. It got very quiet for a moment and then Kamei san asked if he had other pieces.

“I have photographs of several things”.

“Please bring them I would like to see all of them, this is a beautiful piece, Maestro. Please take it and put it on Kumiko, let’s see it on her. Gianni took the necklace, put it around Kumiko’s neck and fastened the clasp. It was beautiful and the room broke into applause.

Gianni thought to himself lightheartedly that if they think the necklace is a big deal just wait until they see what’s next.

The Designer Club - The Next Generation

As the party continued there was an anticipatory atmosphere. Gianni and Kumiko were talking and Kumiko was as happy as Gianni could remember when suddenly Kamei san stood up. The room instantly fell completely silent and Kamei san began to speak.

“Good evening all of you. I’m very happy you all seem to be enjoying Kumiko’s twenty-ninth birthday party.

The Designer Club started fifteen years ago, it was only an idea then but, of course, there must be an idea before anything happens. The idea was that men with great responsibilities needed a place to relax; a place where the problems of their businesses, the problems of the world could be forgotten and where they could relax and be carefree. As The Designer Club was realized it grew very rapidly and became a very successful manifestation of that original idea. Now, as you can see here tonight, we have this place that is a haven of peace and relaxation in the midst of a very turbulent world.

The people who I chose to help me in creating this haven of relaxation are to be highly commended for the work they have done. Of course, to create a place of peace and tranquility that serves the function that was intended, some one had to face the stressful task of making it work without the stress of the process being visible. The job they did in realizing that was amazing and just for a moment we should stop and take notice of what an incredible piece of organization they have done.

I would like now to ask Fujito Oyama to stand and accept your appreciation for the stress and energy he has given to The Designer Club to make it the unique place that it is. Fuji to san, please stand up.”

The room was an explosion of applause and Gianni felt a stinging shock run through his spine. Now he realized just who the man was whom he had treated so terribly during a time of intense grieving. Gianni realized he had one more painful apology to face tonight regarding his terrible mistake.

Kamei san continued.

“I was very sad last month when Oyama san notified me that because of his family tragedy he has decided to leave The Designer Club and take a very long rest. We understand his decision and we wish him great luck in the coming years and I now will say only thank you Fujito san, thank you my good friend for helping to realize my dream of The Designer Club”

And Kamei san bowed deeply.

Again the room burst into applause and Oyama san stood and bowed.

“Because of the unique atmosphere that Oyama san helped create The Designer Club has grown and with that growth, there has come many The Designer Club imitators all over the country; this is a good thing, imitation is a good thing, it means we have done our work well. It also tells us that we must make a new decision; a decision of whether or not to continue this growth of ours, or to keep The Designer Club as it is and hope it will one day be known as the first of a kind. I think that those of you who know me can guess what this decision will be. I am very happy to tell you that we have acquired a new location for the next The Designer Club in the Roppongi quarter of Tokyo; we know it will be a success; we hope it will be as successful as what we have here in Hiroshima”.

As the room broke into a fresh round of applause Gianni was watching Kumiko, she was trying not to anticipate what might be coming next. There was a smile on her face that more or less matched to smiles on most of the faces in the room but Gianni could see something more, he could only think that this girl probably knew her father better that anybody else in the room.

“I will over see all the forming of the new Tokyo The Designer Club but I as am no longer a young man so I have come to still a bigger decision. I have prepared the papers of ownership of The Designer Club be moved into the name of Kumiko Kamei. I can think of no one in the world who is more qualified to take over. She will have my help for as long as she needs it but when she feels she is ready I will put all the business and accompanying decisions in her hands. This is, of course, only if Kumiko wishes this gift, I present this possibility and opportunity to her with all my love and like any father I now wait and hope she will make the right decision for her what ever it is. Happy birthday Kumiko Chan”

There was a moment of quiet in the room as all eyes rested on Kumiko and then came the biggest eruption of applause and cheers that had ever taken place in The Designer Club.

The smile left Kumiko’s face and she just sat there expressionless, Gianni saw that look again, it was the look of having no feelings at all but it was also the look that he knew was her Japanese way of maintaining an overpowering complex of feelings. Gianni wanted to help but he knew he must just sit, applaud with the rest of the guests and wait for her do what ever she was going to do.

The applause continued with no sign of subsiding until finally, after what Gianni thought were several minutes, Kumiko stood up.

The expressionless face did not change; she just stood, looked beautiful and looked at the wall on the opposite side of the room. The applause began to fade and finally disappeared and the room became perfectly quiet and still Kumiko showed no feelings at all. At last she began to speak, very slow and deliberate at first as she sought to gain her composure.

“Thank you Otou san, thank you for your confidence in honoring me with such an overwhelming responsibility”

Suddenly the smile and the life returned to her face and she even laughed a little.

“I was wondering what could be so special about a twenty- ninth birthday, I think I understand now”

The room broke into laughter.

“It’s very strange really. I have been wondering for the last few months what I was going to do in my life, perhaps it’s a little clearer now. It’s clear to me though that I am not ready for this formidable task that Kamei san has proposed. In the days, weeks and months ahead I will be thinking and studying all aspects of what has been presented to me tonight and in that time I hope I am worthy to make the right decision. At this moment I can only say I am very honored and that I find the thought of leading the growth of The Designer Club very attractive but, of course, it would be impossible without the guidance of Kamei san and the help from all of you here with whom I have already learned so much and who’s friendship I value so much. I think you will find that I will be asking your opinions about many things through the next period and I can assure you that those opinions you share will be very important as I make this monumental decision.

I’m sorry for being so serious but this is a serious moment for me now lets all remember that birthday parties are for fun and let’s continue our party.”

Again the applause erupted and with the help of the quartet and the singer the party took on more of the character of a traditional birthday party. Kumiko went to her father and they embraced and the two of them dropped their stoic masks and revealed their feelings.

Gianni gathered his strength and went to Fujito Oyama and made an effort to apologize. He could see that Oyama san was still in great pain but that he was dealing with his loss.

“I am so sorry for my emotional outburst last month I hope you can forgive me.”

“Please forget about that Grosso san, I understood at the time as did Kumiko”

“Thank you, I am so sorry about your loss and I wish you strength as you recover”

“It’s going to be difficult but I’m sure in time I’ll find my way, Good night Grosso san, I’m pleased to have met you.”

Gianni left Oyama san standing alone and felt a little of his pain.

Finally Kamei san and Gianni were together and Kamei san simply spoke very briefly:

“Kumiko will need you now, please be there for her and help her. Good night my valued friend”

“Good night Kamei san.”

After Kamei san had left it was only a short period of time before all the guests were leaving. Kumiko thanked all of them, asked them for their guidance in the coming months and finally said sayonara.

Now in The Designer Club room it was just Kumiko, Gianni and The Designer Club staff. Kumiko spoke to all of them and also asked their help.

Gianni and Kumiko left together and quietly went around the corner and up the stairs. Kumiko prepared the bath and as they were relaxing they didn’t speak. Everything was different now; the future of their relationship was less clear as was Kumiko’s future; it was really too much for either of them to contemplate, everything had changed.

Kumiko finally broke the heavy quiet and said,

“It’s going to take time to assimilate this new circumstance; I only know two things now: First, I’m happy and excited and second, I’m quite sure I still want to go to Europe with you, I need this trip to Europe with you. I need thinking time and the Europe trip seems like it will give me that. Gianni, do you think we can just go to some quiet beautiful place and rest for a while after you’ve finished your concerts?”

“Yes, absolutely. Maybe a nice quiet Greek island would be the perfect thing, we can have as much time there as you want.”

“I’m so happy you are in my life Gianni; let’s go to sleep and start the next chapter tomorrow”

“That sounds like a good idea.”

Continue to The End: These kind of Stories Never Have Happy Endings”

Copyright 2005. Design by Rose Schweikhart