CROSSROADS TO SOMEWHERE: If Life’s a Box of Chocolates, Caramel Is…??

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By W.T. WIMPY HIROTO

Periodically I find myself in a Forrest Gump mood. I have never seen the Tom Hanks classic, but his memorable “Life is like a box of chocolates” declaration is a personal favorite. It’s well known I love chocolate candy, but if only caramel-filled. So his cogent observation about how adventuresome it is just picking a tasty morsel out of a box doesn’t quite apply; I always know I’m sinking my teeth into a variety of the chewy stuff. So if a two-pound box of See’s is a metaphor of my life, then what does 1.5 lbs. of peanut brittle represent?

I’ve also sometimes wondered (but not too often) why Chinese males have so little facial hair. Hollywood persists in having them with scraggly, drooping mustaches and thin white scrawny beards; the direct opposite of Dodgers relief pitcher Brian Wilson, ethnicity unknown. I think of it as the Charlie Chan syndrome. Until Pearl Harbor introduced sneaky Japanese, the bad guys were always Chinese, sinister hoodlums operating out of opium dens. Peter Lorre wasn’t even Chinese, but he and Sydney Greenstreet made an ominous foreign intrigue pair. Philip Ahn, a Korean, was also kept busy playing the role of villainous Jappos.

But today I’m occupied only with thoughts of CR2S readers and how surprisingly reactive they have become. No longer any of that Nisei passivity stuff. [I discount those who fall into the category of “wordy regulars,” those who make known their opinion on whatever is the topic of discussion.] Without a doubt the refreshing responses have been indirectly influenced by social media; primarily Facebook, Twitter and texting. Nisei haven’t wholeheartedly embraced these popular means of communication (I haven’t) but even the slo-motion among us are now at least practitioners of email.

Whereas few would put pen to paper and search for a postage stamp that needed two extra cents to mail in the past, now we can rev up the computer and dash off a free email that in the past would have remained a thought but seldom acted upon.

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve succeeded in taking you from a heart-warming cinema favorite to lack of Chinese hirsute to the impact of social media on Crossroads to Somewhere correspondence. A unique segue to a review of what has recently arrived in the mail:

Last week’s topic, “Funerals are for Living People,” resulted in a surprisingly large (and rabid) number of reactions and responses. Some questioned my non-religious attitude, while others heartily endorsed the current trend toward “happy hours” rather than sadness.

A.S. voiced a common Nisei attitude: “Maybe I shouldn’t admit it, especially to someone like you [?], but I make a point to attend as many funerals as I can because it gives me a chance to see old friends who I don’t see as often as I’d want (to).” Quite observant, he also thinks there are more guest sign-ins and less koden envelopes.

“I find your wandering writing style very unusual and entertaining, but only when I agree (with your column’s premise),” states L.H.,  in a somewhat wandering manner, “(but) I find your distaste for Tiger Woods and Kobe Bryant irritating because I admire both …” And then she goes on (and on) about being in total agreement regarding the need to openly discuss the subject of death and dying. “Although it shouldn’t be treated so lightly (as you do).” She just can’t resist a final dig, I guess.

K.S.  tells of a recent beach gathering he attended, where ashes were strewn and balloons released into the sky. “I was really impressed (and) it seemed so fitting …” On the other hand, H.I. is firmly in favor of “being old-fashioned,” endorsing the continuance of religious rites of choice. In somewhat the same vein, T.S. is “turned off” by the casual attire (calling males “sloppy”) he regularly sees at services. “I find it disrespectful,” he says. While conceding clothes have nothing to do with bidding someone a final goodbye, “but sneakers?”

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Sometimes it’s the flip of a coin that determines what commentary to make public. To acknowledge one over another is often a matter of taste, timing or titillation. Like I got lambasted for having the gall to sign off last week’s column with: “And if Rev. Mark will allow, maybe “O” can co-preside (at my funeral).

CR2S purposely didn’t identify the reverend’s last name, but Centenarians are sharp-eyed and protective: “[E]ven if in jest, to associate the pastor of Centenary United Methodist Church with your fanciful ‘O-bah-keh’ story line is unconscionable! I’m sure he is much too involved to be concerned with the likes of your babblings (sic) … but I feel it necessary to register my complaint with you on his behalf.” Unsigned.

Indeed, I was referring to Rev. Mark Nakagawa of CUMC. And to further infuriate “Unsigned,” I relate another episode: During the funeral service of my wife, I addressed the congregation with the unnecessary information that the good Rev was a former Westside yogore [a pre- and post-war tag that is Jappo for hooligan.]Whether that is CR2S’s claim to fame or shame is moot. I’m certain he will preside over my demise, “O” or no. (I hope.)

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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