Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

Hidemi’s Rambling No.460

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Our tour group was small and about half the members were young, which was unusual for a package tour from Japan in those days. One night the attendant suggested to young members that we should go dancing with him after adults retreated into the hotel room. We had great fun and it had become a custom that the attendant had taken us to a club at every city we visited since then. We had become good friends. One of the club-goer group was the junior high school boy who was chosen as a king at a medieval-themed restaurant in London and with whom I was paired as a queen. He was a geeky king there, and now he had changed into a frenzied disco king. Once he started dancing, he lost control of himself, veering out of our dancing circle toward the center of the dance floor and spinning on his back on the floor. At every club, people gave him a mockery look, as his dancing was somehow rustic and geeky there again. On the last night in Italy, adult members of our tour group asked the attendant to take them to a club too. He took all the members to an elegant lounge in a different hotel. I sat with the young members and the adult members, including my parents, sat together a little apart from us. We were chatting at the table because the music was too mellow on the dance floor there while few adult members took courage to dance. My mother was one of them. Since my father didn’t want to dance, she was dancing with some other foreign tourist. Suddenly, one of my friends shouted, “Look at your mother!” We stopped talking and looked toward the dance floor. My mother was kissing the foreign man on the mouth. In Japan, people don’t kiss in public. It’s almost taboo. I’ve never seen my parents kiss even inside the house. All the tour members saw it and gasped. I spontaneously looked at my father. He was watching them kissing with a wan smile. Then he looked at me and gave me the same smile. After the long kiss, my mother triumphantly took the tourist to our table. I glared at them and told the tourist that all of us at the table were her children. He laughed. I had never felt so strongly that my mother was filthy. I was ashamed of her so much and felt like crying. I knew my parents didn’t love each other but in Italy, what my mother did and how my father reacted made it certain…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.459

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An attendant from the package tour company traveled with us all the way from Japan. I had a little crush on him. When we were leaving one of the tourist attractions in Italy, the charter bus was waiting for us on an unpaved lot covered with wild flowers. At every venue, the attendant was standing by the bus to make sure everyone in the group was getting on the bus when leaving. My sister and I were the last ones to get back to the bus at that place. I trotted toward the bus carefully not to step on the flowers. This time, the attendant was waiting with one of the flowers in his hand. I was about to get on the bus after my sister when he held out the flower to me. It was the most romantic gesture I’d ever been given and I felt over the moon. I hadn’t had many chances to be treated nicely by men because I had been regarded as ugly since I was small and also because I had spent most of my school days at a girls’ school. I wanted to keep it forever and tried to make it a pressed flower back in the hotel. As I was murmuring how I should make a pressed flower, my sister suddenly shouted, “I don’t know! I don’t care!” She was furious. She stormed out of the room and into my parents’ room to tell on me. Since she didn’t like him, I didn’t understand why she was angry. My happiness earned a mysterious outburst of fury. It seemed Italy inflamed people’s emotion. But I never knew a more emotional happening awaited me the next day…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.458

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We got back from Orvieto to our hotel in Rome by a charter bus. When we were getting off the bus, my father abruptly stopped at the exit of the bus. He stood by the bus driver and looked at him resolutely. It seemed that he was about to make a significant action of a lifetime. There was a tense moment of silence and other tour members were also looking at my father. He opened his mouth and said, “Grazie.” He couldn’t speak any other language than Japanese and had hardly ever spoken to foreign people in his life. He wanted to speak to a foreigner just for once and mustered courage at this moment. I supposed he chose the moment in Italy because his all-time favorite movie was ‘Roman Holiday’. He dared, and there was no answer from the driver. My father thought he didn’t hear him, and repeated it louder, making his smiling face closer to him. The driver ignored him. My father nodded in disappointment and got off the bus. Overall, he had bad luck with transportation in Italy. We took a cab and when he paid the fare, he noticed a shortage of change outside the cab. The shortage was huge because he paid with a bill in a high denomination. It was apparently intentional not a mistake by the driver. My father panicked and babbled “Isn’t it wrong change? It is, isn’t it?” while he was showing the change in his hands to me like a child. The cab ran off. The amount the driver overcharged us by was more than what I had my pocket picked in Spain. But unlike in Spain, my mother didn’t get furious at him as she did at me. She reacted as if nothing had happened. I wondered what the difference was…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.457

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We traveled on a charter bus to Orvieto from Rome. It was a beautiful small village like the one I once saw in a picture book. Since it was famous for wooden handiwork, there were many stores for it along the narrow street. I found handmade wooden dolls and got one of those as a souvenir. It looked an authentic Pinocchio to me. The lunch included in the tour was at a restaurant also looking like a place in a picture book, which had round wooden tables covered by tablecloths with red and white checks. A main dish came with all-you-can-eat pasta, which the server dished up on request. It was simple pasta with basil and salt, but the best pasta I’d ever eaten. I had lost my appetite since I landed on Europe and hadn’t recovered it yet. But that pasta instantly cured it, and I regained appetite finally after one whole week. I asked for the pasta repeatedly and gobbled it. I literally ignored the main dish that was obviously much more expensive than the pasta. I saw some locals having lunch at a distant table and they had wine. I had assumed that alcohol was strictly for dinnertime until then. It was kind of a culture shock for me to see people enjoy wine at lunch. In my adult life, I often cook basil and salt pasta, and have wine at lunch regularly. I think my custom has to do with my experience in Orvieto, somehow, unconsciously. Because of the too-delicious pasta, I can’t remember the main dish there though. Cheap stuff appealed to me even in Europe…

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