Here’s a toshinose renai hora banashi (yearend love relationship horror story) — always a favorite topic of conversation during the season’s more casual nomikai (drinking parties).

Sachie (32), was seeing a guy four years her junior. Friends had warned her of the pitfalls of dating a Toshishita-kun (Young One), but Sachie paid no heed. After all, it’s so fashionable for women in their 30s to be seen in the company of a Young One, preferably wearing mineral-wash jeans and a down jacket from United Arrows.

And then . . . a disaster that struck in winter. One night, as Sachie was relaxing at home after a hard day at the office, the Young One showed up at her door with a book she had forgotten at his place a couple of nights ago. This would have been a nice gesture, but he had a young woman in tow, who was dressed to the nines and sporting kira-kira meku (glitter makeup) — a surefire sign that this woman was not yet 30.

“We’re going out for yakiniku (Korean-style barbecue), so I just thought I’d stop by and hand this over to you,” grinned the Young One. He even made introductions, telling the girl pressing against his side that Sachie “works in a bank” and telling Sachie that the girl is “an aspiring glass blower!”

Sachie likened the experience to being a hit-and-run accident victim. She was seen suppin (without makeup), with zanbara atama (undone, unbrushed hair) and wearing the home uniform of working women: suetto to T-shatsu (sweat pants and a T-shirt).

After the pair had strolled off to enjoy their meat-fest night, Sachie crumpled into a wailing heap on the kitchen floor and made frantic calls to each and every friend willing to listen.

Later, her kareshi (boyfriend) sent an explanatory message of sorts. He had taken the glass blower to yakiniku, but that didn’t mean they were sleeping together. (In Japan, a yakiniku date means you’re a couple or about to become one in the next 2 1/2 hours or so).

He naively added that the restaurant was spectacular and he had gotten quite tipsy on Korean rice wine. That was it for Sachie. She sent back a one-line reply that told him to plunge headlong into the fires of hell, and made preparations to join a nunnery.

“Kotoshino Kurisumasu wa hitoribocchi (I’ll be all alone at Christmas),” she sighs, and plans to spend the dreaded evening at her jikka (parents’ house), making austere vegetarian fare and with her cell phone switched off.

What is it with the dating scene? By all accounts, 2007 has been an exceptionally samui (shabby, yucky, no fun) year in regard to romance, and the toshinose stories just seem to plumb the depths of dame-dame (deep despair). It’s a sad, sad world where a woman can be literally lambasted by random acts of youthful horrific menace.

Another friend says her Young One boyfriend admitted to not understanding what it was to tsukiau (go out) with a woman, and he therefore considered himself free to do pretty much what he wanted. This included taking off for London over Christmas with two women friends, and sharing the same hotel room with them.

“Mattaku mo (for god’s sakes)!” fumes Sachie. “Can’t some politician come up with a law that would put all these kusogaki (s**t-ass big baby) Toshishita-kun types behind bars for 10 to 20 years?”

But it’s not just the Young Ones who should be cuffed. Misako (34) asked her older, married boyfriend-cum-boss for a ring from Tiffany’s (“it’s just this teensy, tiny rock!”) to cement their shaky relationship and for her to feel some solace during the holiday season when the boyfriend will be bettari (sticking close) to his family. The boyfriend blurted that this was zettai muri (absolutely impossible) since he was dating another woman beside Misako and it just wouldn’t be right (seii ga nai [it smacks of insincerity] was his phrase) for him to favor one lover over the other. And he couldn’t buy two Tiffany rings, as that would be an offense against his credit card.

Fortunately for Misako, an old college flame called and asked if she would join him on a ski trip with other old friends. Misako immediately told the married boss to “shinjatte (drop dead)!” and practically slalomed her way to the winter sports shop to stock up on chic alpinewear. The lesson to be learned from all this seems to be: Always have a backup plan.

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