Bathing in a Different Country

Yesterday we looked at a quandary and today I will finish it up with the short-short story I wrote about the communal bathhouse in a tiny village in Japan.

          Querulous implies complaining, something I do, but mostly in private. My problem is that I’ve never given a shit about anything, so if I don’t care, I don’t really have the right to complain, right? The first story has plenty of it

A quandary by definition, is an uncertain state where your mind cannot or will not, make a clear-cut decision, perhaps because nothing is clear-cut anymore.   

In a perfect world, everyone questions everything.

In reality, very few question anything. As long as people are people, you (we) need to continue to ask until we are satisfied with the answer proffered. Never having to ask and never suffering injury is truly Pollyannaspeak.

Reminds me of the very first job I ever had. I was five years old when I befriended Johnny. We became best friends as we were the only American children living in the tiny Japanese village of Nakagami-Akashima. Our “compound” held four American families and Johnny was my next-door neighbor. We both held down the same “job.” We were hired by a local papa-san (anyone older than my brother was a papa-san to me) as his, for lack of a better word, slaves.

Actually, we were subcontractors, performing services for compensation.  On Saturday, we would go early in the morning on his dusty wooden cart pulled by two small, but old, brown donkeys. There was a small patch of woods and Johnny and I would fill the entire cart with wood, some pieces even too big for our little spaghetti-arms to hoist. Papa-san would sit in the cart barking orders and drinking whiskey. After what seemed like days, the cart was loaded and back we went to the village. Invariably, papa-san would have to wake us up from our exhausted sleep.      

Turns out the wood was for firing the furnace for the community bathhouse, as there was no internal plumbing (outside of our compound) in the entire village. Everyone in town would eventually make their way to the bathhouse.

Papa-san asked Johnny if we wanted ten-yen (about two cents) or something else. Now ten-yen might not sound like much, but it might as well have been ten million dollars to us. We could literally live for weeks off that kind of cash. Sno-cones, candies. We could get a hundred pieces of candy!

Here is where the quandary part comes in.

The “something else” papa-san offered was the opportunity to go up on the narrow, rickety bamboo walkway he had constructed his drunk-ass self. From up there you could look down on the entire bathhouse and all the naked girls, or so he claimed.

Johnny and I had a decision to make, one that could possibly be life-defining. After the torture of loading wood all day, this was really a no-brainer.

Johnny smiled at me as he flipped his ten-yen piece, dreaming of the sweet treasures to come.

He looked really small down there from the walkway.

Check out this song about the Domestic Despot:

Wind Beneath My Wings

Stay well.

Published by maddogg09

I am an unmotivated genius with an extreme love for anything that moves the emotional needles of our lives.

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