I don’t know why nobody thought of this before: apparently in Japan you can buy a friend for $10 an hour. They’re called ‘ossan‘ and are mostly hired by people who just want someone to talk to. Sad, isn’t it. This from a country that’s making an artform of the shut-in, what they call ‘hikikomori‘, a form of self-imposed social exile where people refuse to leave their rooms for months or even years at a time. We’ve been renting women for millennia, but 10 bucks for a middle-aged bloke, just for a chat? That’s a bargain, right there. Clever people, the Japanese.


I’m especially excited to read about the ‘ossan’ because, for us introverts, this is absolute gold. An hour of chat is just about my limit; any longer and I tend to go a bit postal. It’s financially prudent too, given how expensive socialising has become. A tenner might buy you one frosty Tasmanian lager at one of those trendy inner-city pubs, but what can you buy with the two bucks change? If we can arrange for the ‘ossan’ to go via the bottle-shop and pick up a six-pack then this could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.


He could fill my cup at the same time he’s emptying it. I know that sounds a bit gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that) but that’s how I think of it. Introversion. For me, being with people empties my cup, whereas being alone fills it up again. But the cup empties faster than it fills, not a formula for happiness and success in this extrovert-biased world. But it’s taught me that I can achieve by stealth and guile what others can’t by brute force of personality. In fact, introversion works so well that it almost feels like an unfair advantage.


So, can somebody set up this ‘ossan’ service here in Sydney? They won’t call me ‘Nigel No Friends’ if I can buy a companion anytime I like! Coincidentally, I once knew somebody called Nigel. He had lots of friends. Sometimes we did things ‘in groups’. It was awful.

But if you think I am sounding a bit  ‘hikikomori‘ myself, you would be mistaken. I go outside all the time, when I have to. The thing about ‘outside’ is that it’s just so exhausting,  all those people with their hands clapped over their ears, screaming ‘listen to me!” When I stop to think about it, I guess that’s what I’m doing right here. Filling my own cup and emptying it with imaginary conversations. I’ll let ‘The Police’ explain the rest …


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