Japanese Panty Thief

The year is 2005.  There is no Facebook in my friend circle, just e-mail and perhaps MySpace.

My girl Lucy and I decided to have a “Panty Exchange”, which is a chain letter where you receive panties in the mail.  I thought it was a brilliant idea and hand wrote a letter explaining the idea to about 40 of my girlfriends throughout the world.  I put my name on as first in line, my panty size and my address, Lucy’s name and info. was under mine.  The girl who received the letter was to send me a pair of panties, cut my name off of the list, put Lucy’s name at the top and her own name and info. below Lucy’s, copy the letter and send it  to her girls.

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I waited.  And waited.  And then I moved to Japan.  About a month later, Talitha had sent me a pair of panties, some photos and a lovely letter.  Go girl, just what I was talking about!  That’s all that came.

During my stay in Japan, I met an Israeli girl, Riki, unhappily selling jewelry on the streets of Morioka, where I lived.  I invited her to live with me in my apartment and got her a job at a hostess bar. However, when Riki did the laundry, she hung our panties outside on the line to dry.  A big “no-no” in Japanese culture, but I didn’t want to be that white girl that told another one what to do in a different culture.  Plus, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.

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It was finally time for Riki to go home, and she left during the day while I was at work.  I never bothered giving her a spare key because I figured we lived in Japan and Japanese don’t steal.

I returned home that evening to my back sliding glass door halfway open and a pile of clothes beneath my dresser.  It seemed strange but I figured Riki had perhaps left the door open and forgot to put some of my clothes away.  As I began to put my clothes back, I realized that most of my panties were gone.  The cotton ones were left, but the lacy, sexy ones were gone.

Confused, I called my friend Lowell and explained what had happened. He laughed at me so hard and asked if I had not heard about  the Japanese panty thieves.  Indeed I had not.  He continued to explain that women’s panties are hot commodities which are sold in vending machines in Tokyo.  Great. So some weird dude had broken into my house and stolen my panties.

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I went to work the next day and Lowell immediately starting singing, “Private Eyes, a watching you….”, and laughing.  Fuck you, Lowell.

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The Japanese girls at work continuously  bowed to me and said how sorry they were and that I should call the police.  I was not going to call the police as I felt it was pointless (all the while I have Lowell in the background now singing, “Every Breath You Take..”).  They were so persistent that I decided to just do it, more in the name of curiosity than anything else, and to get away from Lowell.

So I took a 50 year old woman to my house as a translator and we waited for the police.  They showed up within minutes in a non discreet car.  Four men walk out, one in a full suit, one in a leisure outfit (Tommy Bahama type shirt and khaki’s), one in a blue head to toe onesie ninja suit (the feet had one big toe and a space for all the rest of them), and one guy in a black onesie ninja suit with a camera. What was going on here?!

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The blue ninja starts by having us all stay outside my front door, turns off my lights and proceeds to sprinkle dust on the kitchen floor and then plugs a black light into the wall.  The black light shows footprints on the floor.  I immediately stop him and tell him that I am sorry, but I am gaijin (foreigner) and I wear my shoes inside the house.  I was met with lots of  “ahh..” and high-pitched “ohhh..s”.  Foiled before it began.

The whole crew enters my apartment and the black ninja begins to photograph my entire apartment (including the bathroom).  After he finishes, he starts dusting the sliding back door with more fingerprint dust, then applies tape,  pulls it off and puts it in some special file.  He does this to my chest of drawers as well and then fingerprints me.

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All the while, I am explaining to the man in the suit what had happened.  At the same time, the guy in the Tommy Bahama is making an accurate diagram of my bedroom, measuring everything precisely…including the distance between the bed and the wall and the floor and the bed.

I am then asked to take a photograph with one finger pointing to the chest of drawers where the panties were stolen.  I explained that they were taken from two drawers, so I had to pull the other drawer out a bit further than the first drawer and point to it with my other finger.  I threw my head back and put on my best smile. I asked if I could get the photos but was told they were police evidence.

After the finger printing, the photographing, and the measuring finished, I had to describe each pair of panties in detail.  I just happened to know all of my panties because I had been through them a few months earlier hoping to get rid of them when new panties came in…which they hadn’t.  So I went for it and described the panties using hand gestures to demonstrate the thongs, etc.  I had a good laugh as the man in the suit blushed but remained stoic through it all.

About one hour later we finished and they went to check out the outside of the house.  They asked me if there was any other way he could’ve gotten in (even though it was clear he came through the back door, left his shoes outside like a good Japanese man, and in all his excitement, forgot to close the door on the way out).  I said, “Yes, perhaps he came in through the bathroom window.”  That confused the hell out of them as there was no bathroom window, so I dropped it.  No Beatles fans here.

The entire neighborhood was outside. Big drama in small town Japan.  The elder people came up to me with apologies about how they didn’t take good enough care of me and that they will watch out better.  Extremely kind.  I told them I was very scared but would live through it, and thanked them (then entire time I’m laughing so hard within).

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I thanked the policemen and told them to do their best to find this thief and put him away for a long time.  The agreed to do so.

About two weeks later, I came across an article in the paper in which a panty thief was caught in Morioka with 50,000 pairs of panties.  Morioka being a small town, I called my girl Ryoko, who was a cop, and asked her if she could find out if this was my thief. She called back the next day with apologizes saying that they had checked out the panties with my description and not one of them was mine!  More than one panty thief at large in Morioka!

So…I sent out an email to my girls entitled, “Panty Emergency” and told my story.  I also made it real clear that Talitha was the only one who had sent me panties.

Within two weeks, I had about 20 new pairs of panties from my girls. They’ll show up in an emergency.  Thanks God.

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My personal panty thief was never caught.  Lowell still rides me for it and I every time I hear Hall and Oates or the Police, I have to laugh.

A few years later I got an email from my friend Andrew in Tokyo saying that he believes he had just gotten my panties in a vending machine.

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