Last week I wondered why so many nice people make a point to visit Keiro Retirement Home, as if it’s a “must visit” locale like Hollywood & Vine and Li’l Tokio. Students as well as well-known entertainers from Japan, all steeped in the tradition of honoring the elderly, make the sojourn to Boyle Avenue. Youngsters and adult ensembles from local schools and organizations also come to entertain and delight, in English and Japanese. The 2014 Nisei Week Queen and her Court sang for us this past Saturday.
CR2S is admittedly confused by all this attention. Understanding the admirable Japanese culture of honoring elders is easy; being on the receiving end of the attention is a whole different ball game. I’ve done my share of contributing to the welfare of (Thanksgiving, Christmas Cheer, caroling, food banks, volunteering), but that was as a willing and able giver.
Take for example the other day: A pair of teenagers from Yamanashi-ken sang and danced for our noontime pleasure. I applauded politely, but quite honestly was wondering whether the Dodgers were in the process of blowing a ninth-inning lead. Today I left before a ukulele concert began, preferring to listen to my Pandora oldies.
It’s more vanity than confusion, this uneasiness of being on the receiving end of respect and attention. Fellow residents enjoy and maybe deserve the reverence. That’s cool. But as far as I’m concerned, liver spots aren’t exactly a badge of honor; nor the need for a third leg (that’s a cane, by the way). After all is said and done, I guess my shortcoming isn’t growing old, it’s the refusal to do it with grace and humility. Yeah, yeah, time marches on and all that tempus fugit bs. CR2S marches to the beat of Gene Krupa rather than a taiko drummer. Clever only if you are aware Krupa was a band leader/singer/ drummer.)
So it is. Whether good, bad or indifferent, the beat goes on. And if you care to read about another (un)believable CR2S true (mis)adventure, read on:
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I had concluded an eye examination and with extra time on my hands, decided to spread some August Cheer. Just because everyone is busy at work doesn’t mean a surprise “Have a good day” would be disruptive… My primary care doctor, gastroenterologist, dermatologist, dentist and oculist all have offices in the same building. So nobody thinks about social visits during office hours, Why not, I mused and punched the elevator “Up” button to launch an impromptu CR2S goodwill tour.
The elevator took eons to arrive. So instead of a short ride up, I figured why not add exercise to the good intentions and walk up to the seventh floor. I know what you’re thinking: CR2S may be provoked by DMV and flummoxed by “Oh-bah-keh-sama,” but stupid we ain’t. After pulling open the stairwell door, I held it open until I spied the comforting sign: “Stairwell access to 10th floor,” meaning one could traverse the stairs from six to ten without a problem (floors two to five are for parking). Only then did I allow the door to close shut and confidently strode upward, “Hi, ho, hi ho, it’s up to seven we go.”
Elation turned to immediate despair when the door to Floor Seven wouldn’t open! You all know what a sinking feeling is, right? The cold reality of being locked in is worse than being locked out. Now, do I pound on the door until someone comes to the rescue? Little chance being at end of the corridor where there is little foot traffic. The only other option is traverse the winding stairwell, down, a looong way down.
So began the tedious, dangerous downward trek. Plodded. Maybe more like clomped. And very carefully. Time was not important at this juncture, care was. At each left turn came a pause, more in remorse than to rest.
After a near eternity (I don’t wear a watch) mine eyes finally focus on an exit door — with a push-bar. I felt like Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela rolled into one. Free at last.
The morning sun never shone more brightly. The hum of Third street traffic was a Yo Yo Ma concerto. Union Church was a beautiful sight. Hurrah and huzzah, the body of CR2S would not be found in a cold, dank Li’l Tokio stairwell, after all.
The thought of re-entering the building to fulfill the initial visitation goal was entertained briefly, but quickly vetoed. Instead, I drew a deep breath, and then a second: CR2S had escaped a horrible fate (well, at least embarrassment) by keeping his wits. And banzai, years of leg exercises had paid an unexpected dividend as an added bonus.
I go nen-neh every night with the expectation of awakening the next morn. LG. Life is indeed Good. Also a Gift.
W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.