DJ, translator, entertainer, car racer, son, scholar, Australian, lover boy, computer tinkerer, track and field athlete, teacher, friend, philosopher and all around nice guy. The list is by no means exhaustive, but these are some of the conventional ways I would describe Matthew Carmody. But really, it’s tough to stuff him into any one category. One thing is certain though, he is, to borrow one of his own phrases, “a man of action!”
The first thing that struck me upon meeting Matt in the local gymnasium (five years ago) was his appearance. He is half Lebanese, half Irish, thin, about 6ft 4 and had hair that hung near the top of his shoulders. In and of itself, there is nothing extraordinary about that description, but when I noticed that he was a member of the staff and not a patron, I did a double-take. He is one of the most un-looking Japanese guys I have met, but he does a better impression of a Japanese man that an actual Japanese person can.
Last Thursday, Matt was nice enough to help me move all of my things into the new place (after he finished work at 10pm). We did two round trips that nite and by the time he went home it must have been around 2:30am. I felt terrible for the guy, but he was very gracious and said nothing of it.
On Saturday I was able to return the favor. There is an exercise store near Matt’s radio station that was going out of business, so he bought one of those huge home-gyms for half its’ original price. There was a catch however (isn’t there always?). In order to get the piece for that price, he was going to have to dissemble it and take it home himself, which is where I enter the picture.
We got to the store around 10:30am, dismantled the apparatus and then managed to stuff it all into his sports car, a minor miracle. Afterward, we had to take the load to his friend’s shed in the mountains (he needed a place to store it until his new apartment was ready to move into), which was about an hour and some time away. On our way home we started talking about ‘drifting,’ which is a popular form of car racing here. In drift racing, modified racing cars, well, they drift; across lanes I guess. Matt used to dabble in drifting, but really hasn’t had the time of late.
I don’t know if it was the mountain air, or what, but as we were descending mount Rokko, I started to see a little ‘twinkle’ in Matt’s eye and I noticed that our speed was climbing…steadily. Each turn was taken with more focus and in the back of the car, where we storing the the machine before, two dumbbells were thrashing about (I couldn’t resist buying them when were at the fitness store. Later that nite I wound up pulling a muscle in my back after trying to demonstrate how to use them to a friend in the building…wonderful). So, the ride is getting exciting, perhaps a little TOO exciting for a Saturday stroll, but Matt had it under control. Unfortunately, we had the share the road (and our lane, incidentally) with other drivers.
About 100 yards from the bottom of the mountain we took a turn, fast, and in the other lane there was one of those miniature work trucks turning left into a construction site (Japan drives on the left side of the road). Behind the truck was a car…which, not wanting to wait for the truck to turn, tried to pass it; crossing over a solid line in order to do so, which is a big no no here. I’m sure the driver was just as surprised to see us barreling down the mountain as we were to see him climbing up it…in OUR lane. Well, while I’m thinking about how I’m going to divvy up all of my stuff (socks, spider man tooth brush, etc.) upon my impending destruction, Matt slams on the brakes and pulls an unbelievable evasive maneuver, fish-tailing a few times before scraping the oncoming automobile.
After we took a deep breath, we exited the car to check on the other driver, who, it turns out, was fine. After we knew everyone was intact, there was a lot of unintentional comedy to enjoy. For one, I was able to watch Matt in rare form as he argued with the other driver, a Japanese man in his 60’s, about who was to blame. I also found it humorous (in an ironic way) that this was happening on a mountain, which is famous for providing fresh air, yet we were standing behind a construction machine that was dousing us with toxic fumes, not unlike a mechanical skunk. As a matter of fact, that seemed to be the theme of the day. When we were on our way to Matt’s friend’s place, we weren’t able to close the trunk all the way due to the size of the ‘beast’ in the backseat, so we were taking in highway poison the whole way there. By the end of the trip I had a nice dizzy/nauseous combo going…delightful.
In the end, things worked out for the best. The police came, listened to Matt and his adversary make their respective cases and called it a draw, 50/50 fault. When the police officer left, the two men exchanged information, shook hands and we all went our separate ways with nervous smiles on our faces. We knew we got lucky.
In moments like this I am reminded that life is a real adventure and you never know what is waiting around the corner!
*(Editor’s note; the picture in the top left was NOT taken this day. There was NO drinking going on. I thought it would be funny to put in. However, the other two photos were taken Saturday. In fact, the photo in the middle was taken moments before the crash)