Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Maid Cafe

Well I drug us into a Maid Cafe today just because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about!! It was pretty bizarre, somewhat surreal, and kind of dumb. BUT I'm glad we went just to say we did. Stan had researched them and horrified me with all sorts of crazy tales. That they didn't allow foreigners, that they spoon fed you your food, that they did all sorts of nutty things. But I argued that they were on the streets handing us brochures the last time we visited Akihibara, so of course they'd let us in!! And as for the rest, I'm sure it would be optional.

They didn't allow pictures inside the cafe so I grabbed some of their advertisements for an idea. Basically we went inside and sat at a little picnic table style bench thing and looked around the small room. It was roasty hot inside, which was nice considering it was freezing and rainy outside. The walls were wallpapered to look like stone or something, and it was done up like a little cottage. There was a fake window painted on the wall and the neon ceiling lights were covered with fake plastic stained glass panels. A European maid met us in the elevator to the cafe and we chatted and she offered to show us where it was, though it was impossible to miss. Then we went in and a Japanese maid showed us to our table. They were, true to the pictures, wearing little black and white maid costumes. We were given a menu and told what their special cake and lunches were for the day, and we stared at it for a while.

A sort of punk/goth Caucasian maid was walking around, with bleached blond hair and tons of black eye makeup, and a few other Japanese maids. Some of them made their outfits more punk with leg warmers on their arms, black and white striped gloves, etc etc. Our server was another European maid (I remarked why aren't more of them Japanese?) but I guess they sent the English speakers to us since we radiate American-ishness.

The menu was small and had either shrimp pilaf, cake, ice cream, or drinks. The drinks were 600 yen (somewhere around $7) and the cake+drink or icecream+drink combos were 1200 yen. We debated what we wanted, since we really didn't want anything but wanted to ogle the maids, and finally decided on milk tea for me and hot cocoa for Stan. The weirdest part was yet to come.

It took several minutes for our drinks to come out and we watched a big monitor on the wall that was playing maid-themed anime. It was a scene where a girl maid was late for her job with this family of rabbits.

Anyway, our serving maid came back over and we stared at her as she set down the teacups carefully, trying to do her part as the maid. She asked me "Do you want me to put the milk in your tea?" I played along, "Yes please!" and she carefully put the little creamer into the teacup and stirred it with a tiny spoon. "Would you like me to put the sugar into your tea?" and here I go again, "Yes please!" "All of it or half of it?" "All of it!" The exchange was kind of odd but I wanted to get the full maid experience. Hahahah (like I even knew what the "full maid experience" was!). Then I thought she would leave us to our drinks but no. The oddest part still happened.

While she stirred my drink she said something I couldn't understand and explained to us that she was casting a spell to make it more tasty for us. I blinked and smiled and said okay. Then she goes on to say, "I'm going to teach you a spell and we can do it together to make both of your drinks more tasteful!" So we played along as she chanted something in Japanese and traced a heart in the air, then made hearts with her fingers and poked them out in three directions. She explained it meant something like "Cute" to make our drinks tastier. Ummmmmmmmm... okay.

Then she finally left and we giggled about that odd ritual, but I saw other maids doing it to other customers (mostly men in business suits) so I brushed it off. Stan leaned over to me and whispered "They're probably going to charge you for stirring your tea for you." I was shocked and wondered until we had finished our drinks and went to the cash register to pay. Indeed they did not, I guess this is the more touristy of the Maid Cafes and not so bizarre like the ones I've heard tales of. Maybe there are dark creepy maid-infested corners of Tokyo where they tie bibs on you and spoon feed you your dinner, but we luckily found a light hearted nice place which was a bit silly and completely memorable!

PS. after all this writing I forgot to point out that this particular Maid Cafe was visited by the Backstreet Boys! They had labels on the seats where the Backstreet Boys sat, and photos on the wall of the maids and the boy band posing. Interesting tidbit? Hmm... Thanks for reading my novella!

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