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Wednesday, October 14

No Boundaries

All sorts of people knock on our door every day. I can understand what about fifty percent of them want in my broken Japanese. KH tells me not to even bother answering the door since I can't understand half of them anyway. He prefers to turn the television and lights off and pretend he's not home. They do eventually go away. True. True. But where is the fun in that? It is much more fun to answer, if only to amuse myself for a few minutes. One of my favorite games starts with me saying 'I don't understand' and other bits in Japanese just to have them go into an extended conversation in Japanese, because they think if I can say that much, then surely I can understand more than I am letting on. I don't. But they don't know that. The second reason I like to answer the door is because I like all the bowing. It's great exercise! They bow to say hello and then bow to say thank you for your time even though you haven't understood a word the other has said. Then when you bow afterwards in thanks to their politeness, they bow again to thank you for your politeness... and you can see how this goes on and on for sometime. Saying goodbye to someone in Japan is just simply one of my favorite things to do here just because the repetitive bowing seriously amuses me.

I digress. So who creates all this foot traffic at the Kimono household? There's your common traveling vegetable vendor, not to be confused with the traveling fruit vendor. There's the Jehovah's Witnesses. There's the utilities people who knock just so they can ask if they can check your meter... which is on the outside of the house, so why bother to ask? There's often a person who will knock and ask if they can park in KH's empty parking spot. When your street is the size of an alley back home and the majority of the people who live on it have no parking spaces because they don't own a car (another 'why bother' with the amazing train networks in Japan), then that parking spot is highly coveted when you have someone that needs to do something on the street that will take more than a few minutes. Otherwise, they could do the usual Japanese thing and just park in the middle of the street, but that causes some hassles in these narrow neighborhoods. Overall, I get what these people want. But then there is the other fifty percent. Of which is where my point to all this drivel is.

Yesterday, my neighbor dropped by to see if some tests I had done recently had gone well. After she had left, another knock came only seconds later. I assumed is was my neighbor who might have forgotten something. Instead is was this little old lady, small in stature and wearing a pretty but quaint flowered dress and giant spectacles. She carried only a small bag with her so I couldn't begin to guess what she wanted. She only spoke Japanese and my language skills just couldn't fill in the blanks. So after our ongoing polite and confusing conversation, she began to say her goodbyes. It was at this time that Kimono Pipsqueak came tearing around the corner on all fours. The woman who had been standing outside of the door heard him so she popped her head in quickly. It took her only a second to see my smiling little devil baby. Before I knew what was happening, she had brushed me aside and was now inside of my house! She knelt at the step in our entryway where KP sat giggling away for a few seconds of stranger attention. It was only another second that she had now scooped my darling blue-eyed baby into her arms. Here is this strange lady... in my house... and grabbing a hold of my baby. Now in most cases, this situation would totally have me freaked out. But here was this little old lady, all alone, and I was pretty sure I could take her down if she tried to get past me and out of the door with my baby boy in her frail arms. I didn't really know how to respond to this, since no one who has ever knocked on our door crossed its threshold without explicit permission. Do I yank the baby from her arms and give her the boot? Or do I remain calm? Utter confusion about the situation led me to the latter. She gave him a few squeezes and kept telling me 'kawai', which is cute, and then she placed him back on the step she had plucked him from. As I put myself between her and the baby, she began her series of bows with mine in response. As she backed out of the door, I closed it as quickly, but politely, as I could. Another knock came only second later. The pamphlet she initially wanted to give me was in her hand. Printed on orange paper, all in Japanese. Only the date was I able to read. She thanked me for taking it and tried to explain what it was. Then she abruptly and seemingly gave up, turned around and was around the corner before I finished closing the door.

If she could move at that speed, maybe I should have been more concerned that she could have made off with KP. Thankfully, we will never know.

And we will never know what she wanted either. I trashed the pamphlet only minutes after she left. If I can't speak Japanese, then why would anyone begin to believe I could read it? I'll never understand.

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