When I was in high school I had a friend--let’s call him Boris. Boris had only recently moved to America at the age of twelve from a newly freed Eastern European country—let’s call it Zembla.

Boris loved women or to be more precise, Boris loved any woman who would have him. Much to my chagrin Boris would recount his various escapades in excruciating detail. He was especially happy when talking about the home country.

-You would love Zembla. In Zembla there is no capitalism, no money, no religion, only sexy. Sexy on subway; sexy on escalator; sexy in park. Is very sophisticated country; very European… You Americans you not understand.

Boris had a crush on a certain popular girl in our high school named... Jane. He would peer at her from behind his small round spectacles and bush of hair during classes, recount her infinite perfections during lunch, and whimper about her pitifully after a few too many drinks.

After several months of pining he decided to make his love known. Boris thought it would be especially romantic if he painted himself as a secret admirer, wooing her through poetry like Cyrano de Bergerac. He made a friend named Steve, who worked in technical theater with Jane, pass her these poems. I didn’t get a chance to read the first few, but from what I gather they definitely got her attention…

In Boris’ mind, these poems were to culminate in a secret rendez-vu in the courtyard of our school after a performance of the school musical. A true believer in poetry, Boris spent hours trying to distill months of anxious pining into a few short lines. He came up with the following:

I am a man of the dark. Hidden,
I yearn for you. Always,
I watch you from the shadows.
meet me in the
Courtyard at
10:00 tonight

After reading these heartfelt lines, Steve had only one thing to say:

-You are fucking crazy. She’s going to think you’re a fucking stalker.
-You not understand women. I am European. I understand romance. Give it to her. I beg you.

Steve gave her the poem later that night, and, as predicted, she immediately thought she was being targeted by a stalker. So she gathered up a posse of friends from the varsity Lacrosse team.

Boris was nervously waiting in a corner of the courtyard when a frantic Steve showed up. Steve quickly apprised Boris of the situation before running off. Boris waited around for a few more minutes, not willing to believe that his carefully crafted words could have been so badly misinterpreted.

Then he heard the sounds of many feet on the stairs leading up to the courtyard. Fortunately, Boris' other passion was rock climbing and there was some scaffolding from renovation work nearby. He spent twenty minutes hanging upside down from a pole before they finally left.

Which brings us to my real reason for telling you all this: the story behind the name Gimpei. You see Gimpei is a character from Yasunari Kawabata's "The Lake". He's a stalker who follows attractive women around until they get frightened and run away. So next time you're thinking of leaving an unkind comment, remember: I am the terror that flaps in the night. I am the evil that pecks at your nightmares. I am... Gimpei!


  1. Anonymous on 26 October 2008 at 15:48

    Where's Gimpei? We want Gimpei! I don't care if you flew to California to follow your "stalker victim", daily means daily.

  2. Gimpei on 1 November 2008 at 18:49

    except when daily means not daily, which would be now.