CROSSROADS TO SOMEWHERE: Cold Means More Than Heartless


By W.T. Wimpy Hiroto
(First published in
The Rafu Shimpo on December 1, 2010.)


If I’ve been asked thrice I’ve been asked a jillion times: “How do you come up with Crossroads to Somewhere (CR2S) column ideas?”

Unfortunately there is no single answer. Most times I have a definite subject in mind when I sit me down in front of the computer on deadline Monday. Once in awhile I find myself blankful (sic), an omen to fear and dread. At other times the indecision is caused by the questionable interest in a tentative idea.

Some years ago my Statement of Purpose was to inform, educate, entertain and comment. But now it’s with a sense of duty to my own. That is to say, with various “restraints” looming ominously, the *priority leans precipitously to being selfish and self-centered rather than a pure dedication to readership first and foremost. [*Not so much a repudiation of responsibility as indulgence. How many more opportunities will there be for these Rubic Cube challenges?]

But we still haven’t attempted to come up with an answer to the burning question, have we? How do these things come into being? An example: The other morning while brushing my teeth I was struck by the never ending supply of toothpaste in the tube. I mean to say, the pepper shaker, wasabi and orange juice run out at the most inopportune times but the toothpaste tube is an endless cornucopia of giving. Just when you think it’s time to put a new tube into action, you can always find yet another squeeze. Inconsequential but amazing when you think about it, no? So now you have an idea of how weird topics surface at the strangest moments.

The daily newspaper and evening news are an endless source of commentary. But who really cares about yet another Trojan gridiron loss, lackadaisical Laker team or Bruin embarrassment? Discuss the pros and cons of WikiLeaks disclosures? How concerned are you about the resumption of North/South Korean tensions? How many of you actually participated in the Black Friday shopping spree?

So there you go. The weekly dilemma of CR2S. Granted, quite unimportant in comparison to what faces Governor-elect Jerry Brown or UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow, but challenging nonetheless.

I’m sitting here rubbing fingers and the backs of my hands as I try to hit the right keys. Not quite freezing but pretty darn close! It is 2010 is it not? Automatic heating and all that jazz. The days and nights of gas heaters and electric warmers are ancient relics, fire places mostly decorative.

So what does one do when the heater is supposed to kick in, the fan goes on . . . and there is no warmth?

After the mildest summer/fall in recent memory, the temperature hereabouts has fallen to the low 40s.  Now that’s cold! And whatyaknow.  I have no heat. The fan starts but no warm zephyrs. Wouldn’t you know, it has to happen on a short holiday week. Everyone is aware by now that CR2S is brilliantly helpless when it comes to mechanics and intelligently hopeless at fixing anything. Sons always available to bail out an inept padre. Not this time.

The situation reminds me of pre-war Riverside when smudge pots were burned in an attempt to keep the orange crops from freezing. The first months home from Poston after the war, (illegal) charcoal burners were used to ward off the chill. I mean, hey, what’s a little CO2 compared to freezing to death?

I continue to rub my fingers between paragraphs (to remind you of what total dedication means), as I hopefully await a repairman’s call. Is there comforting surcease on yon horizon or is there yet another dreaded night of polarity (?) on tap?  Really, people, think about it. I don’t reside in Pacific Palisades or Holmby Hills, but wouldn’t it be a gas if you read in the LA Times that a Japanese American columnist had died with his zorii on?  At his keyboard.  From the cold!

The scenario also reminds me of Camp Poston Unit I. Of course, in one’s relocated youth, cold and heat were interchangeable. In a 24-hour cycle it could go from freezing to 110 degrees (F). [Unapologetic plug:  Poston 2011 Reunion will be staged Oct. 7-9 at Laughlin, NV.  Why not make plans to attend.]

I have on a warm t-shirt, sweat suit outfit, socks and wool snowcap.  This is also my sleep ensemble, plus an extra blanket (I can’t find an old electric one). An unplanned bonus is staying in bed until after 9 a.m. these past mornings since my bedroom is the coldest part of the house. And if you’ll graciously excuse a bit of honest, unabashed nostalgia, mankind (inert or otherwise) was not created to sleep (or freeze) alone . . . . . .

(The telephone is ringing as we come to the end of this week’s endeavor.  So  just as some of you did last week on my Thanksgiving birthday, pray it is the heater repair man.)


W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached by e-mail. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.


1 Comment

  1. Are you the Wimpy Hiroto that I was in the army with in Japan in 1947 ?
    You write like him, did your left shooting arm ever get more accurate ?
    Hope we are together !

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