In Japan, the word sugoi, meaning “great,” is used rather indiscriminately. Practically anything or anyone can be sugoi with the possible exception of an oil shock or a North Korean kidnapper. And Ford cars—those decrepit heaps of metal most certainly do not fall into the realm of sugoi.

Plain white rice? Sugoi. The ability to say “hello” in Japanese? Sugoi. How about being able to drink Japanese water? Surely that can’t be sugoi! Actually, it can; in fact, it’s probably resting comfortably upon the towering throne of all that’s sugoi or every was sugoi in the endless depths of time and space. Until yesterday at approximately 12:26 p.m., that is. Turns out there’s a new king of sugoi in town, and its name is Meat Sauce. No, that’s not a typo—Meat Sauce. Meat sauce is officially sugoi and in a huge way. Ron Jeremy huge, to be precise. Why else would one of my colleagues have yelled sugoi miito sousu da! (Good God, it’s meat sauce!) if not to announce the arrival of our new lord and sovereign?

The kyushoku (lunch) for the day was pasta with meat sauce, served alongside a plate of shredded cabbage, tuna, and pickled cucumbers. Whole milk, naturally, was provided to wash it all down. The pasta proved palatable if not particularly delicious, and tasted exactly like what it was: a mixture of salt, beef, and ketchup. Imagine my surprise, then, when an exclamation of Sugoi! Miito soosu da! (Good God, it’s meat sauce!) shattered the calm and tranquility of the lunchroom. Startled, I looked up from my decidedly average pasta to find one of my colleagues staring in amazement at her bowl of pasta. “Sugoi! Miito soosu da!” she exclaimed a second time. Anger began to coalesce in the pit of my stomach, spreading slowly to the rest of my body. I wasn’t angry because of how annoyingly shrill her voice was, or because she punctured my heretofore quiet lunch; rather, I was angry because I had clearly been cheated. You see, the meat sauce unceremoniously dumped on my pasta was average at best; akin to something you’d pick up for 100 yen at the local grocery store. It was brownish-red, greasy, and lacking in vegetables of any kind, much less an actual tomato. Not exactly sugoi, now is it? Yet sugoi is how she described her pasta’s meat sauce, so clearly I had been shafted.

I threw her furtive glances from across the table, waiting to see what would happen as she devoured her pasta with its suspiciously sugoi meat sauce. The sauce didn’t look all that different from mine; it was brownish-red, meat and grease-filled, and didn’t appear to consist of anything resembling a tomato. So why was she shoveling it into her mouth with the voracity of a starving wolf? Puzzled, I examined my own pasta once more, in an effort to discern whether or not I had perhaps overlooked some fantastic spice hidden underneath my bowl. Alas, nothing—no spice, no ambrosia, not even a small packet of salt and pepper.

Several minutes passed, yet nothing changed—she didn’t transform into a superhero; the Earth continued to rotate on its axis unabated; George Bush was still the most pathetic president in US history. My anger at being cheated slowly gave way to a sneaking suspicion that the meat sauce on her pasta was no more sugoi than the Earth is round. Probably less so, to be honest. In other words, she lied! But why lie about meat sauce? Surely there are better ways to waste one’s breath. If a thing is not great, don’t claim otherwise! Unfortunately, this most painful tribulation has left me scarred in more ways than you can imagine. My ability to discern what is truly sugoi in this world may never be the same. Pray for me, dear readers, pray for me. And then donate to this site! I accept all manner of check, money order, COD, and love gift (i.e. cash)…