"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Thursday, June 16, 2011

TONY: Yeehaw konnichiwa!

"Now Tony is forever inoculated against being a hick." Tim Reynolds (my brother, Tony's father)

     Before I get to what Jerry and I were doing in Japan, I want to tell you what Tony was doing.
    Tony is my nephew from Harlingen, Texas who will turn 50 in October. He owns an 18-wheeler which he and his wife Karen drive all over the United States. But he hasn't gotten out of the country much and when he came to Japan with us, he had a ball. Passing through customs in Haneda Airport, he told Jerry and me, "I've decided I'm going to stick right by your side and say yes to everything."
     He stuck to us just until we reached (by train and on foot) the Friends Center where we would be staying for our two nights in Tokyo. Then he was out exploring the upper-class neighborhood around us, snapping pictures of "everything but people," starting with the temple for the red, six-armed god next door. (Later someone read the placard in front of the little caged statue, which states that he is the god of "pregnancy, childbirth and--" We've forgotten what else. Paper goods?) Tony took pictures of temples, parks--and every meal we ate on our trip for his son back in Harlingen who likes to cook.
     Tony is an affable, out-going guy. He likes people and initiates friendships everywhere, with everyone. ("What's your name? Akiko? Hi, Akiko, I'm Tony. Thank you for serving my soup.") At a Bar Mitzvah once, someone greeted him with "Shabat Shalom." Tony thrust out a thick paw and said, "Tony Reynolds."    
     He also likes golf. Top on his list of things to do in Japan was to play golf. I didn't know there was an area big enough for a golf course in Japan that wasn't planted with rice. But his very first day in Japan, Tony met a businessman named Massa who lives at the Sheraton Miyako when he isn't buying up land in Djakarta. Massa not only agreed to play with him but 1) paid for the game, 2) loaned him clubs, 2) loaned him shoes, 3) rented a Western-drive Chevy Suburban for the occasion and 4) set up the tee-time (3:45 AM). They drove down to somewhere beyond Narita Airport on the peninsula and were ready to play by daylight. Tony held his own until the last four holes, when he started fading. Massa won and 5) treated Tony (and his own girlfriend whom he had brought, buying golf shoes for her on the way) to breakfast.
     Tony's comments about Japan: "I love a country where slurping is okay." He liked the name of a local hotel, the "High Up." He called it the "High Up Regency."
     Describing Massa's girlfriend: "She's short, with black hair." (Jerry: "Well, that narrows it down to half the population.")

     The next day, Tony hopped a train and took himself to the Imperial Palace. So much for sticking right by our sides! He was having his own adventures.
     When we invited Tony to come to Japan, he wrote back, "Yeehaw konnichiwa!"--said it was the best offer he'd had all week.  Konnichiwa means hello, good day, good afternoon. But once we taught him "Hajimemashite" he loved it because it was a conversation starter with strangers. What he didn't realize was, that's all it's good for. All the way to Hiroshima and through the ceremony, he was flying solo with the one greeting, "Hajimemashite!" (How do you do?)
     The day after the ceremony he came to us dejected. "I said hajimemashite to Sekiguchi-san and he looked at me funny," he said. "I guess you can't use it twice."
Tony between adventures.
     "Nope," I said. "Better switch back to yeehaw konnichiwa."

1 comment:

  1. lol....I laughed till my belly hurt! I am SO SORRY we were not able to come...so sorry. It would have been so many things, and fun is certainly one of them! Great post!