Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

Hidemi’s Rambling No.420

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Most of the stuffed animals and the toys I had in my childhood came from my uncle. He bought something for me every chance he got. When he got married, he left our house and moved into his new house that my grandfather built for him. But he frequently dropped by our place, mostly to have lunch cooked by my grandmother. One day, he came into the house cheerfully calling out my name. He took me to his car and told me to get in. I hesitated because I’d never gone out with him. I asked him where we were going and he proudly declared that he would buy me any toy I wanted today. I felt extremely nervous right away. Although I had been surrounded by the toys he gave me, I had never shopped with him. Also, I had never been in his car before. Above all, his offer sounded desperate since I knew he had started drifting jobs again. In his car, I was even sure that we weren’t headed to a toy store but somewhere else. So, I was confused when we arrived at a small toyshop actually. He told me to choose whatever I wanted in the shop. It would be a dream moment for an ordinary kid, but for me who had known my uncle, it was simply a bad omen. I reluctantly looked around the shop and found the toy I’d wanted for a long time. It was a shoe shop of Rika’s mom. Rika was a Japanese version of Barbie Doll and I used to play with the doll all the time. Rika’s mother was set to run a shoe shop and the toy had a shoe display case filled with fancy shoes for Rika. Seeing my pick, my uncle said, “That’s it? I said whatever and you didn’t choose an expensive one! You’re a fool!” Since it was exactly what I wanted, I didn’t change my pick and he bought it for me. On our way home, I was still certain something bad would follow, but nothing happened. He came to buy me a toy and that was all. And that was the last time he gave me a toy, as he became a father of two shortly afterward. I wasted a golden opportunity to shop around toys for my negative mindset…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.419

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I lived with my uncle until I was eight years old. He had drifted from one job to another since long before I was born. He once started the soft drink business with our relative and his friend, which failed. Then he started the bathroom floor pads business with my other uncle, which also failed. As my grandfather couldn’t stand to see his financial aid wasted anymore, he had my uncle hired at a Honda used car dealership by a family connection. Now that my uncle got a steady job with a fixed income, my grandfather was so happy that he placed a large order for my uncle’s business cards at the print shop, which by the way was run by his brother-in-law at the back of our house. Sadly though, my uncle quit the job after several years without any consultation. He found a new job at a gas station, got married and left our house. One day I was playing alone in the living room and doodling. I ran out of paper and began to rummage the drawers. I found a box filled with my uncle’s unused business cards. Even as a little kid, I knew he had changed his job and therefore, those cards were completely useless. I was doodling on the back of the cards when my grandfather caught me. He got furious and told me never use them as pieces of paper. It sounded pointless to me and I asked him what use they had. He replied, “That’s not the point. These are expensive and you can’t use them.” He tucked the box back into the drawer carefully while I was wondering who would use them then. A few months later, my father and I went for a drive to fill up the car at the gas station where my uncle worked. My father looked into the office to say hello to him but he wasn’t there. The manager told my father that my uncle had quit. He was smiling to me back in the car although apparently he seemed dismayed. We drove back home silently…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.418

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Although my birthday is three months away, my partner bought me a pair of shoes as a birthday present because they were marked down by 40% for a limited time at an online store. The pair was what I’d wanted for 15 years, which were classic oxford leather shoes made in Italy and came in a different color from what Elaine was wearing in ‘Seinfeld’. I wanted them so badly that I paid the customs duty as they were delivered to Japan from U.S. They are my first ever shoes that cost over 100 dollars. I spent five days excitedly waiting for them to arrive. When I opened the box, I found them breathtakingly beautiful but also found red dots here and there on them. It seemed they were stained with the wrapping paper. I couldn’t rub the dots off either with a paper towel or a cloth. I suspected that was the reason why the pair was 40% off. I looked up on the Internet and felt so relieved when a simple eraser removed the dots easily. It was a fine day yesterday and I wore them to a restaurant that was a thirty-minute walk. I walked very carefully not to dirty or scratch my new shoes. At the restaurant, I watched out for them not to bump against legs of the table or the chairs. I was tense all the time and my cheek began to twitch by stress. This is a perfect example of what happens when a person wears expensive shoes for the first time. I look forward to seeing where this pair will take me in future. Wherever it will be, they came all the way from USA to take me there…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.417

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About ten months ago, a middle-aged woman complained to me about my slippers at the communal spa of my apartment building. She wanted me to take them off and stay barefoot in the locker room because everyone except for me was barefooted there as a custom. I refused as being barefoot wasn’t an official rule and I felt much more comfortable and more hygienic with slippers on. I was kind enough to explain to her that wearing slippers was more hygienic on the public floor than barefoot. It’s totally logical, but she didn’t accept anyway because her point was to keep up the custom. I’ve kept wearing my slippers in the locker room everyday to this date even though sometimes there were other middle-aged women who grumbled to me or darted an angry look at me. Three months after I got the first complaint, I saw a woman wearing slippers in the locker room and I was no longer the only one that wasn’t barefooted. Then, since last month, a mother and her child have been wearing slippers. As I predicted, people began to imitate me and adopt my way. And the other day, this slipper battle developed a new twist. I entered the locker room with my slippers on as usual, and there was a woman who had gotten out of the spa and been putting on her clothes. She was putting on her socks when I walked past her. Thinking I found the third example of non-barefoot, I said hello to her with a smile as I usually did. She turned to me and our eyes met. I was astounded. It was none other than that middle-aged woman who told me to be barefoot here ten months ago. She herself was wearing socks! She looked startled to see me and her face got filled with embarrassment at once. She returned hello to me in a faint voice. She lost her battle. Slowly but steadily, a wrong custom such as nothing should change is disappearing. I was shown a proof that to keep doing the right thing can change the world in a better way. For me, though, it’s an extremely trivial thing like wearing slippers…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.416

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After my grandfather quit a chair of a local chrysanthemum association, the number of his chrysanthemum pots had gotten less and less in the front yard of our house. Visitors to see his chrysanthemums had also tapered off to almost none. He stopped exhibited them at a public display. Yet, he had still grown a few pots and brought his best pot to a ward office by his bike, as a gift. No one in the ward office asked for it, but my grandfather was sure that everyone appreciated. He delivered every year and once he did it on a very windy day. He put a pot on a back carrier of his bike and set off. When he arrived at the ward office, the flower had been snapped off by the wind somewhere on the way and only the stalk was left on the pot. He turned back home right away and carried his second best pot. When he arrived, the flower was again gone in the wind. He successfully delivered his chrysanthemum on his third trial. To my father, that was the funniest incident in his entire life. Soon my grandfather stopped delivering his chrysanthemums anywhere because he became too weak to ride his bike. Even so, he continued to look after chrysanthemums in the yard until he passed away. Spending years besieged by my grandfather’s chrysanthemums, I had fostered hostility to them. Eventually, I detested them. I even have the impression that my childhood is ruined and eaten up by chrysanthemums. Now, I live in the town far away from my hometown and when I see them on display such as at the train station in autumn, I remember my grandfather. And I realized I actually think they are beautiful, and I like them…

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