Sergeant Tony's Blog

43 Million Women Didn’t Get Any — Sgt. Tony Ludlow’s Newsletter for 2/16/2011

Wednesday, Feb. 16th 2011 2:38 PM

Yumiko Kana woke up on Monday morning at 5 AM like she always did.

Yumiko is a young Japanese “office lady” who commutes to work by train and subway to Shinjuku Station from her tiny apartment in western Tokyo that she shares with her roommates. She and her two roommates, Noriko and Akiko, all twenty-something-year-old office workers showered in turns, dressed, and grabbed a quick breakfast of toast and coffee. The small crowded “ginkan” (entry way) of their apartment, where their shoes were, looked like a cyclone was going through it as the three of them hustled to put their shoes on, grab their bags, get out the door, and force march to the Hibarigaoka Train Station.

And Monday was Valentine’s Day.

Because it was Valentine’s Day, Yumiko and her friends were not only loaded down with their handbags and their briefcases, but they were each carrying several gift bags. Inside each of those gift bags were several smaller gift wrapped items to give for Valentine’s Day.

But none of these three young women — attractive and smart women — would be getting anything for Valentine’s Day. Not a single thing.

In fact, no Japanese woman – not one of the 43 million of them – got anything for Valentine’s Day on Monday. No flowers. No jewelry. No expensive gifts. No special dates out. Nothing. Zip. Nada. Nai.

But it was Valentine’s Day!!? Right? What’s wrong with Japanese men??

On Valentine’s Day, Japanese women give gifts of chocolate to their male friends, male family members, male co-workers, and to their significant male-other(s). So Yumiko and her roommate’s gift bags were full of gift-wrapped chocolates for the male members of their lives.

But not all chocolates given are equal on Valentine’s Day. There’s a rank structure to the kind of chocolates Yumiko gave. And the kind, quality, and price of the chocolates told the men in Yumiko’s life where they fit in the hierarchy of her life and how she felt about each of them.

The chocolates that Japanese women give on Valentine’s Day are divided into two categories: 1) giri-choco and 2) honmei-choco. Losely translated it means “chocolates given out of obligation” and “homemade chocolates.” Honmei-choco (homemade chocolate) is given from the heart and implies a close relationship to that person. It isn’t necessarily made at home, but the store bought “honmei-choco” is very obviously expensive and special.

Yumiko is single and has no boyfriend, but she’s got a crush on two guys she works with. Takahiro and Kenjiro are the two guys she likes, but typical of young Japanese men, they are both too shy to do much about it even if they also had crushes on Yumiko.

So on Monday, Yumiko gave most of the men in her life who weren’t family members, Snicker bars with bows tied around them. Clearly giri-choco given to the lower ranking men in her life. But the more special the man, the more special the chocolate.

To Takahiro she gave some chocolate that she and her roommates actually made together in one big batch in their apartment to divide up for the special men in their lives. To Kenjiro she gave a box of expensive chocolates that she bought at an upscale department store in downtown Tokyo. She actually likes Takahiro a little more than Kenjiro, but she’d gladly go out with either of them if they’d only ask. The chocolates were her way of giving them a little encouragement to ask her out, if they were interested.

All of Yumiko’s single girlfriends did the same thing; they gave honmei choco in an effort to send a subtle message that they’d be open to going out if the guy was interested. It’s a slight nudge, but not so overt or uncomfortable that it would create an awkward situation if the guy wasn’t interested. And since most of us guys — Japanese guys aren’t alone here — are clueless when a girl likes them, Valentine’s Day chocolate has been used in countless situations to send a message and bring people together. As one of my Japanese guy friends said, “I only wish there was a Valentine’s Day every month!”

Now before you dismiss the Japanese custom as male oriented, male dominated, and sexist, let me tell you about “White Day.” On March 14, exactly one month after Valentine’s Day, the tables are turned. On White Day the guys get to do the same thing that the ladies did except they give gifts of white chocolate, silver jewelry, or anything bright, white, and/or shinny.

Yumiko hopes that one of those guys will get the hint and either ask her out, or at least give her something special on White Day!

I loved Valentine’s Day in Japan. In the ten years I lived there, it might have been one of my favorite holidays. And since I taught school there and had lots of female students, I got tons of chocolate.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking … I got tons of Snicker bars, giri-choco.

Guys, between now and March 14, why don’t you do something for your lady’s heart. Insist that she get a complete physical if it’s been over a year since her last physical. February is Healthy Heart Month and since we lose too many of the women we love to heart disease than anything else, let’s be jerks and insist that they get their sweet hearts checked out!



For the month of February, all new female recruits can join for only $75! And women who join now will get the rest of February and ALL OF MARCH for that price!!

In fact, TWO can join for that price! Tell your cheap, and or frugal, girlfriends that it’s the best time to join USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP!



When the wind chill is 29 or lower, we’ll go inside at 0530, 0830, and 5:45 PM. The 0645 class is inside from now until March.

Check with or The Weather Channel. I’ll post it on my Facebook page and the Boot Camp website Blog page ( if there’s a question. And if you’re not sure, you can text me at 901-644-0145.

What about inclement weather days?

We’ll follow the Memphis City Schools decision. If they close, we’ll stand-down. If they close in the morning but the streets are clear and good to go by the afternoon, the evening class will meet. I’ll post that status on Facebook and the Boot Camp Blog page.



Spring Half Marathon Training is underway and it’s been exciting and fun!

But it’s not too late for you to get in on the fun!

Our next training run is this Saturday at 7 AM. We’ll meet at Shelby Farms in front of the Visitor’s Center. Saturday’s weather is expected to be good! But if it’s raining or snowing we’ll go on Sunday instead.

Prerequisites for the training: be able to run 3 miles in 36 minutes or less.

Cost for the three month training: $75 for active duty Boot Campers, $125 for “Friends of Boot Camp.” All are welcome to join in the fun.

There are at least five half marathons in the spring! There’s one in Nashville, Louisville, St. Louis, Fayetteville, AR and Oklahoma City! The Germantown Half Marathon is also in March.



First of all, find me on Facebook and make me your friend. (Also, be sure to “like” USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP on Facebook.)

Here’s how the discount works!

It’s simple: make a Facebook status update and get a discount!

For every status update that you make that references:
“USMC Fitness Boot Camp,”
“Sgt. Tony’s Boot Camp,”
“Tony’s Boot Camp,”
or something similar, you can take $2.50 off your next reenlistment fee for each update!

You can take up to $20 off for any given month!

Your status update has to be a specific reference to USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP or to me specifically by name.


You can do the same thing by “checking in” at USMC Fitness Boot Camp either by using Facebook “places,” Foursquare, or any of the other “check in” apps that show up on your Facebook News Feed.

So log on and start getting your discounts now!



I’ve got a few prime hours open during the week if you know someone looking for a trainer. I use the facilities at Christ Methodist and the hourly rates are standard for Memphis. Over-all fitness training, boot camp style workouts, strength training, sports specific conditioning and agility (tennis, soccer, basketball, etc.) or 901-644-0145



Remember that when one of your family or friends joins the program because of your recruiting them, YOU get a free month of Boot Camp!



The 0830 Class meets on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Don’t forget that there is child-care available at the church for this class!

The 0645 meets on MWF inside!

ATTENTION 0830 CLASS MEMBERS: please remember that no cell phone usage is allowed while you drive your car on the campus. So when you pull onto the campus, no cell phones please!



If you’re a part of a family (usually husband and wife) that does USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP together, ask me about it! I think you’ll like it!



Take Shape For Life is the BEST weight loss program I know of. If you’d like to lose weight talk to me. This is the program I used to lose the almost 30 pounds I gained after knee surgery. Let me help you!

You can also go to



The Tuesday and Thursday evening classes are standing down until the last week in January.

However, I’ll be running at 4:30 PM at St. Mary’s track on Tues and Thursday and you’re welcome to join me for an informal jog fest!



A calendar has been added to the official USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP website.

For you visual learners, you’ll find this an easy way to glance at the week or month and see where the workouts will be, if there’s a venue change.


What would you do if money were not an issue, fear were not a factor, and failure were not an option?

To your optimum health and fitness!



Sergeant Major Tony Ludlow

USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP, Commanding
Mailing address: 4888 Southern Ave., Memphis, TN 38117
Cell Phone: 901-644-0145

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