CROSSROADS TO SOMEWHERE: ‘Oh-Bah-Keh-Sama’ Returns With a Vengeance

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WIMPY1By W.T. WIMPY HIROTO

I’ve been told the Japanese character “Oh” is an honorific, as in “Oh”-shogatsu (New Year), “Oh”-matsuri (festival), “Oh”-medeto (congratulations), “Oh”- miyage (gift). I’m sure those of you better educated in our wonderfully descriptive language are aware of the whys and wherefores. But if CR2S has been misinformed, OMG and please to overlook such a dastardly possibility. This carefully crafted introduction shouldn’t be upended by something as trivial as being in error.

On the flip side of the ledger, we have English names: “Oh”-bama, “Oh”-prah, “Oh”-J, “Oh”-sama; a rather uneven quartet. “O say can you see” and “O sole mio” appear in song. But there is only the simple word, “oh,” in the dictionary. [If there is someone ready to pounce with the Jappo word “O-te-arai” (toilet), there is not time for discussion, so let us proceed.]

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[Guess what the topic of discussion is going to be this fine day? Brilliant! You are the winner of the “Oh Lottery,” which makes you eligible for a private visitation at a time and date to be determined at a drawing to be announced sooner or later.]

Well, folks, “Oh” is back. And with a vengeance.

Many CR2S followers have been wondering what’s been going on on the “O” front since the antics of our mystery sprite have been noticeably absent from this corner for quite a spell.

The reason is quite simple: the visitations have been so few and sporadic, I’ve seriously considered composing the dreaded obituary announcement. But always saved by the bell, for whatever reason, when the end seemed imminent. For the record, there were but three knock knock visits in June and a lonesome twosome in July. As we’ve learned over time, there is no longer any interest or reason to publicly chart the times and dates of the various tapping incidents. I’ve figured out there is nothing to figure out; there is no modus operandi, no behavioral pattern; “O” simply does not operate on human terms.

My last “O” sighting/hearing was Aug. 15, a Friday, only the second of the month. But a most emphatic one. As if to emphasize a lengthy absence, the “knock-knocks”(only two) had added fervor, kind of like someone irritated. That 2:52 a.m. police-like pounding was followed by another duo a mere six minutes later, at 2:58, for whatever reason. Nothing since.

Remember Rose T., the third-floor lady here at KRH? She’s the one who last June was frightened to death by a sudden and unexpected pair of loud knocks on her door. Well, lo and behold, last Monday she experienced a second surprise visit. Only this time, just prior to the pair of knock-knocks, she was awakened by a strange (indescribable) “noise” emanating from her radio! [Her knowledge of “O” made the incident less scary and stressful.]

Adding intrigue to the timing of Rose’s second visitation was a strange malady that suddenly impacted every floor of Keiro Retirement Home. Over the course of two days, more than thirty of the numbered boards that identify each tenant apartment fell off their mountings. Nothing sequential or explainable. Just kerplop, there they were on hallway floors.

CR2S, the designated sleuth, was not satisfied with the general consensus that the glue on the backs of the signs had simply worn out, as Maintenance contended. Au contraire. If so, why not more? And why more on the third floor than the fifth, or first? Same adherent, applied same time, why not more incidents in the following days? There have been none.

To be fair, I argued with myself: Car tires don’t wear out evenly; nor do the soles or heels of your shoes, I challenged. Yes, but pretty close, even for such hardy and long-lasting stuff, I countered. Only one numbered plate fell on my floor, my neighbor’s. I pulled and pried on mine, but nothing short of Godzilla with a crowbar could make it to come loose. [Or “lose,” as our erudite Superintendent of Schools John Deasy would proclaim.]

Okay. So maybe we are kinda getting carried away with The Mystery of Boyle Avenue. But you have to admit (not really) that intrigue and mystery have shrouded KRH for a very long time. CR2S is past the stage where there is a need to defend or explain the “Oh-bah-keh” phenomenon; she’s here, (un)real and present; probably sticking around a little while longer.

KRH bigwigs no longer express verbal concern, although I’m sure they wish I would find something else to write about. The recent influx of eight new residents is proof “O” (or new ownership) isn’t chasing prospective tenants away. And the pattern of all Japanese-speaking newcomers continues. The Rafu Shimpo Japanese Section hasn’t found CR2S’s “Oh-bah-keh Saga” worthy of mention or translation. Which is interesting since “O” elicits more KRH commentary from Japanese-speaking/reading subscribers than the Nisei. They are also all believers, even though my writing is often beyond their comprehension. Omedeto, you-all, and okawari (a second helping) just for you.

W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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