Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rite of Passage

"AGGHHHH!!!"  The shriek pierced my heart like an arrow. Then came a terrible "thud" followed by absolute dead silence. Chasing the source of the sound I soon stumbled upon my son Jiro,  sprawled out across the tatami mats beneath my feet. Cradling his head in his hands, he cried out in anguish, "I HATE this house.

I knew this day would come sooner or later. I'd heard the words before and knew his pain all too well. This happens to all the males in our small but relatively tall family and there is just no stopping it from happening.

It was a growing pain. He's thirteen now and getting too tall to pass through the doorways of our home without bowing his head. He must have sprouted an inch or so overnight because this morning he hit the top of the door frame so hard he wound up with a bump the size of a small egg atop his crown. 

I used to knock my head on that exact same spot at least three times a day when I first moved into this old house. The structure has been renovated since it was first built well over a half century ago but the door height specifications were left to match the standard height of the average Japanese person during the Edo period (1603-1868)- which I gather was not too tall. 

I actually coined the phrase, "AGGHHHH!!! I HATE THIS HOUSE!!!!" It was my signature cry until I developed the poor posture that now allows me to pass through the portals of my home unscathed. I don't think I've stood up straight and tall for years now and my head is in better shape for it. 

When Ichiro, my oldest, hit six-foot at age twelve he made my tag line his own until he grew tall enough to tower above any doorway (Now with nothing and everything standing in his way, he simply longs to pass through life unnoticed).

It's a simple rite of passage in our household where everybody learns that, whether you're at home or not, it never hurts to bow.




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A Clash of Cultures




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