Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

Hidemi’s Rambling No.519

After the incident of table manners, I had closed a business of being a class clown at school. I had stopped making others laugh and hadn’t accommodated their requests for jokes any more. It yielded an immediate effect. I used to be the center of a circle of students but they were dispersed from me at an amazing speed. It was in my senior year and the class was divided according to the course the students had taken. In the group of my close friends, I was the only one who took the science and mathematics course while the others took the humanities, which led me separated from them in the homeroom class. Coupled with this situation, I became a loner within a month. It wasn’t so hard for me, though. After all, it was just I got back to my old days in kindergarten when I hardly spoke to anyone. But a difficulty arose when the school held an assembly. To gather at the hall, the teacher made us to form into a line in pairs at the hallway. The students made a pair with each friend and waited chattering and yapping merrily. I had no one to make a pair and was standing alone silently at the tail of the line. A mere one month ago, they would scramble for me to make a pair. I realized how easy it was to become unpopular and how much time and energy I had wasted so foolishly for superficial friendship, thinking back to my longtime effort to become popular at school. Although I was willing to be unpopular again, I couldn’t help feeling empty. I tasted bitter loneliness when I saw a girl walking toward me from the head of the line. She stopped in front of me and said, “Would you like to go with me if you’re alone?” She was the smartest girl at school who was somewhat shunned by other students because she was too earnest. I had known she was a big fan of my favorite band and I had once bought a sticker sheet of the band for her before. She had been so grateful for that and brought me all her albums of the band to let me make copies. Besides those occasions, we had barely talked each other. And now, she broke my loneliness completely. While we were walking to the hall side by side, she gleefully said she couldn’t believe I was standing alone without a friend so that she made a pair with me. As for me, I couldn’t believe the smartest girl sounded as if she looked up to me. Since then, we became best friends. She had everything I didn’t have. She came from a rich family. Her parents were both doctors and especially her father was a renowned doctor in the medical society. She was smart, nice, sincere and courteous to everyone, even to a bus driver. Compared to her graceful attitude, I looked stupid with a typical rebellious teenage behavior. I understood being cool means a person like her. Still, she always kept admiring me and even respected me for some reason. We shared passion for our favorite band and for study as she was applying to a medical school and I was to the most famed university in the city. As I was influenced by her attitude, I noticed she cured my wickedness. She totally accepted my true self and was even making me a better person. I wanted to be like her, but soon I would be taught the hard way that I could never be…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.518

I spent my teenage life at a privileged Catholic school. Most students came from wealthy families and some were famous. As a farmer’s daughter, I belonged to the few non-wealthy students. I thought a farming family was regarded as poor and unsophisticated in this school, and tried to hide the fact that I came from one as much as I could. Every time I submitted the paper on which the parents’ occupation should be stated, I put my thumb right on the word ‘Farming’ so that other students didn’t see it. There was a famous long-standing chain of high-end chestnut snack stores in the city which chain name was the same as my last name, and one day, a student casually said to me, “Your family owns the chain doesn’t it?” While the chain and I happened to share the same name, we actually had no relation. But she sounded so sure as if everyone believed so. It was three years since I had entered the school and my concealing operation might have worked. It was possible that no one besides my close friends knew I came from a farming family. I felt confident I looked cool and sophisticated enough for them to think I came from that wealthy family. Hoping their misunderstanding would last, I didn’t deny strongly and gave her an ambiguous reply. When I told my mother about it at home, she was very pleased and instructed me to keep them believing that way. I was walking toward the bus stop with my close friend after school one afternoon. When I cracked her up with my jokes and moves as usual, she said laughing, “You look like a peasant!” And the next moment, she gasped and added, “I’m sorry!” I wouldn’t have cared if she had kept laughing, but her serious apology offended me. She remembered I was a farmer’s daughter and thought her comment was inappropriate. I realized reference to a farming business required an apology, which meant she looked down on it. By the time I was a senior, I had grown weary of being a class clown just to be popular. I had tried everything to be cool but become doubtful if it was right to act someone else who wasn’t real me. For seniors, the teacher asked attendance to a table manners class at a gorgeous restaurant one by one. Since some students were busy preparing for the entrance examination of universities and colleges, they were allowed to opt out of the class. I was one of them and when my classmate behind me heard me answer “Not coming,” she started giggling. Then she said to me, “Even though your family is a farmer, you’d better learn table manners!” The girl next to her was also giggling and said, “That’s what we shouldn’t tell her!” It was a wake-up call. All those years every body had known my family was a farmer and laughed at me inside while I pretended to be cool. What I had been doing so hard for years was nothing. Since that day, I stopped acting a class clown and returned to my true quiet self. A couple of days later, in a class journal that all students would read, I wrote, ‘I’m a farmer’s daughter. Yet, I have been to a high-class restaurant and I do know table manners.”…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.517

There’s an old Japanese custom called ‘Age of Thirteen Visit’. A child who reaches thirteen years old by the traditional system of age reckoning visits a specific local shrine to receive wisdom. The important event has one critical rule. The thirteen-year-old visitor should never look back until they pass through the shrine’s gate after the visit. If it happens, wisdom they’ve just gotten is returned. Every time a topic of the visit was brought up by some chance in my childhood, my mother would strictly instruct me not to look back when my visit came. It had become a repeated threat for me. After those years, I reached eleven years old, which is thirteen by the traditional system, and the day for the visit arrived. I was so tensed and nervous because of years of my mother’s threat. I got dressed up with kimono and my mother put a wig on my hair to make me look grown-up. While I was greedy enough to look forward to getting wisdom, I was anxious about looking back as much. From the moment we left home, my mother kept reminding me not to look back at the shrine. As the pressure had accumulated, a sense of panic had been built inside of me. By the time we prayed at the altar in the shrine and started leaving, I was panicky. On the spot about only several yards to the exit gate, I couldn’t stop myself and looked over my shoulder. I blundered away my once-in-a-lifetime visit. My mother made sure I didn’t look back when we passed the gate. I lied and said no. On our way home, we dropped by my aunt’s house. She noticed that I was wearing a wig. But when she pointed it out, my mother instantly denied it. I didn’t understand why she had to lie about such a small thing like a wig, but she just insisted it was my real hair. My aunt slipped beside me when we were about to leave and asked me if it was a wig. Although I said yes indifferently, she triumphantly uttered, “I knew it!” She sounded as if she had beaten me and I felt annoyed. I hated my mother’s totally unnecessary lie. And as for me, I went through a terrible teenage life with my own trifling lies. I believe that was because I had returned wisdom at the shrine on my Age of Thirteen Visit…

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