The waitress at my favorite Japanese restaurant, a spotlessly clean little joint in a Sonoma County hamlet not far from my home, had no idea what she was getting into as she took the order. Two unremarkable looking customers had walked in the door: one an older, rather prissy-looking man with wire-rim glasses, and the other a slightly louche-looking 20-something guy wearing blue jeans and a lumberjack-checked shirt. As they perused the menu and made their choices, there was no hint of what was to come, although she should have suspected it, given the times we are living in. “Would you like anything to drink?” she asked, and they both ordered beer—the delightfully bitter Japanese beer that is a specialty of the place. After asking for identification—the younger man looked as if he had only started shaving—and seeing all was seemingly in order, the waitress went back to the kitchen to get their drinks. Upon returning, she served them with the unobtrusive elegance that is the peculiar mark of Japanese civility.
And so the trap was sprung.
The older man smiled a greasy smile as he whipped out a card identifying himself as an agent of the local constabulary, while his young companion looked on in admiration. “I’m afraid you’re in violation of the regulations,” he said. “And this is the second time!”