Monday, May 14, 2007

Mother's Day

My therapist told me that this was probably the worst way to begin a story. I understood her position, and I spent the rest of the session trying to fictionalize the situation into a better introduction. However, after unplunking herself from my miniture sofa and hugging me goodbye, she left without another word about it. In truth, she doesn't care how I begin my story, nor does she mind if I were even to write it at all. Mostly because she finds my stories uncomfortable to listen to, and she's convinced that 95% of the words from my mouth are foolish fallacies. Perhaps this opinion ought to offend my feelings. It doesn't. Nothing really does that, anymore. This partly resulted from an incident occuring during adolescence, just 4 days after my first orgasm. 19-- was a dubiously unlucky year for me, the year that I bled from my bottom and when most of me went numb. Eventually, some sensations found their way back to my body, but my ability to properly masterbate is still fucked, which leads me back to how I was advised NOT to introduce myself.

Hasako warned me that no normal, healthy pervert gets off on a novel about imagining a masterbating cripple. Her exact words. Her English has never been standardly tested, so there's still the possibility that she knows all the nicer synonyms that imply that a portion of one's body has been rendered dysfuntional, thus useless. But I taught her the word "cripple", mostly to irk my mother who almost used to live with me. Just one week after she found out that I had subleted her tiny Houston apartment to two Mexican brothers, she appeared at the door of my loft just outside of Nagoya. Oh, I don't mean to suggest that I rented out the apartment she had been residing in, but rather the one she's been letting me hole up in since I was a sophmore in high school.

On a side note, that's part of the reason Hasako doubts me so often, because I'm often unclear and she misunderstands, due to her tendency to lean to the side of the ridiculous rather than what makes most sense. Whatever, though, I often lie to her. I might as well admit it now, right?

Part of the reason is that I love the look on her face when she pretends to be shocked. Her tall, un-Japanese nose flairs like those expensive sea anemones you can find at the bottom of fancy aquariums. And her eyes seem to take center stage when they fling themselves open as if coming up for breath after being submerged under beauty bath mineral mud. Her eyes are normally hidden behind a pair of black, square-rimmed glasses but while under the influence of rumors or excitement, they melt away into her soft, freckled skin. It's the only time I think she looks attractive. I'm not sure if I accidently described her as sounding like a beauty, but she isn't.

She's not really young, but she's not necessarily old either. The only tangible suggestion of age that she exudes is her son, who shares his mother's curious elusiveness. Actually, this fact became a problem for him once he transitioned into middle school. According to Hasako, it isn't his remarkably round babyface that summons the attention of his schoolmates. Rather, it is the combination of his odd shaped fantanelle and its hilly tuft of black, silky fine hair. The cap of his skull sinks inward giving the impression that his soft spot was rammed inward before closing shut during infancy.

People must wonder if there's a connection between his peculiarly shaped head and his inability to shut the fuck up. Surely, I wonder this everytime he comes to my door looking for his mother. That's probably one of the only times I thank my stars that Hasako is no longer tutoring me in Japanese. If I had a better grasp of understanding spoken Japanese, I may have probably banned the kid from coming to my house months ago. I'm not being hateful, for if you heard his voice, you'd understand what I meant, I swear.

Hasako had answered an advert that my mother had put out in the English pamphlet that she found in the Nagoya public library. My mother and her had agreed upon a meeting time of 19:00, which in summer, corresponds with the most beautiful sky at dusk. However, nobody but Yuuki, her son, noticed the magnificent shades of pink dripping down the light yellow canvas. Yes, Hasako brought her son to her job interview, and yes, my mom would have probably decided not to hire her had she not have been driven away in such a rage. I'm actually much more impressed with Hasako's reaction that night, rather than with my own brilliance of successfully expunging my mother from my apartment. I was not at all impressed by Yuuki. He just sat there, speechless. For such a loudmouth, his opinions were nonexistent on that night.

Unfortunately, the events of that evening is still one topic that Hasako absolutely refuses to both talk or even hear about. In theory, it's understood that there is no truly taboo subject matter between us, none except this one. With a touch of honesty, I'll admit here that I also harbor my own stash of embarrassment, which I keep sandwiched under some healthy layers of regret. However, if I am to adequately describe Hasako's and my relationship successfully, I must uproot and re-bury the dusky afternoon when I first laid eyes on Hasako and sent my mother packing in a trail of disgusted tears.

To be fair, my mother is excellent at revenge. You see, after she was telephoned at 2 in the AM to come to her apartment premises because of loud, unnatural noises seeping from underneath the doors, she naturally grew worried about her only child, residing alone and crippled in a complex not far from downtown Houston. You know, in the poorer, dirtier, more ethnic area of the city. I laugh everytime I imagine my mother's face when she unlocked the door with her master key, and scurried worryingly toward the bedroom noisefest. I honestly believed those guys were brothers. They looked just like each other! How could I have verified that they weren't who they said they were? ID checks? Come on.....Anyway, two weeks later, without a word of warning, there's my mother fumbling through a Japanese phrasebook at the taxi platform outside of Nagoya Airport.

At the time, my mother had me convinced that she had indeed quit her job back in Arizona, and decided to follow me to Japan. Of course, I didn't think she was serious in the beginning, but after her third Monday slugged on by, I became worried. Especially since the weather had gone into the full rainy season swing, without seeming to dampen my mother's spirits in the slightest. I wonder if you're asking yourself whether my mother is a meddling worrywort who has spent the last 12 years of both hers and my own life fretting over her crippled child. In case you were, the answer is No.

Like I said before, my mother is excellent at revenge. It is just that, and that alone which fueled her drive to her travel agent, held her hand through the busy airport, and tossed two, blue Tylenol PMs into her gullet before her 11 hour flight to the center of Japan. In fact, she's been miserable since she stepped out of her air-conditioned Taurus back in the airport parking lot. Actually, she's been miserable much longer than that, but that is probably the least interesting thing about her recent arrival in Japan. But she wasn't giving me any indication that she will be leaving soon, so I decided that I better get at it before she begins forwarding her mail to my address.

I didn't know that we were going to be visited by a Japanese woman and her boy, so I hadn't made any attempt at putting on any decent visiting clothes. In fact, i was laying beneath a fan atop my futon in nothing but a pair of white boxers and what my uncle calls a wife beater. Apparently, even domestic abuse has a fashion sense.

Part of my mother's tactics in revenge include embarrassment in front of strangers, including embarrassing the strangers themselves. Since I am a cripple living in a pretty small apartment, I have no mind to keep my wheelchair outside the house. I don't mind crawling around the house since I've been doing this for years. It really isn't too much trouble since my arms are pretty strong and my body is quite light.

The doorbell rings and I look up from my book. My mother's eyes evade mine and she jumps up like a naughty little sprite and runs to the door. In my mother's eagerness to embarrass, she rushes Hasako's "Hajimemashite"'s and "Dozo Yoroshiku"'s and pulls her and her son into the living room. In a loud, overshadowing voice she announces, "My name is Yvonne, and this is my daughter, Angela. Please excuse her for not getting up to greet you, you see...." "You see, I'm crippled", I finish. My mother does her famous roll of the eyes that looks more like she's got mascara in them, and in less than a second, returns her attention onto Hasako. "I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name", my mother sizzles. "Oh, yes, I'm sorry, it's nice to meet you. My name is Hasako, and this is my son..." "Hasako," mother interrupts, "Have you ever worked with the handicapped before?"

I need to do a little pause right here. As you can probably imagine, a person just doesn't magically turn into an Yvonne overnight. A personality like this takes years to form, which of course leaves me with the same amount of practice years battling with such a personality. So one might say that I have evolved a spectacular ability to boldly place myself in humiliating positions in order to win, or at least survive mental and emotional warfare. After realizing what my mother had done, to not only me, but this poor mother and child (at this point in time, i still sympathized with the boy), I felt an overwhelming urge to teach her a lesson, a lesson that would make my mother never want to step another foot within the same island as me ever again. However, I couldn't think of a thing. That is, not until I noticed Yuuki fumbling with his crotch.

"Excuse me, Hasako, but I think your little boy might have to use the toilet." I say a bit reluctantly, knowing this is probably going to embarrass her. I felt bad, as I always do when I cause anyone embarrassment. All I can attribute that to is an emotional backlash against my mother's mannerisms. As my mother shows her to the leiu, I begin to crawl to the kitchen. "What do you need, honey?" my mother asks. "Nothing, I can get it myself, I'm just getting water." Once I get into the kitchen, I lift myself onto the little stool and fill up a large 2 litre tea bottle with tap water. Once it is full, i reconsider my idea. Then I reach up for the canister of sea salt and begin to pour it into the water. The can was a little less than than a quarter full, so I let all the salt slide right into the water. I recapped, shook it a bit, and descended the stool. Within a minute, I made it back onto my futon.

As I uncapped the bottle, I could hear Hasako speaking to Yuuki quietly in Japanese. Despite knowing hardly a word of Japanese, I could hear the worried tension in their conversation. My mother was also listening, and if there's one mind I can read whether I want to or not, it's hers. She was trying to decide whether she wanted this Hasako person coming over everyday to teach her daughter Japanese. She didn't really like her, though she thought her son was quite adorable. "Oriental children have such cute little faces, and such fashion to match!" was the exact quote, should you be interested in the thoughts of my mother. As I listened to the voices of the two woman wind together like the snakes of the caduceous, I brought the bottle of warm salt water to my lips. With everything in mind, I drank to my health.

The first taste made me want to puke. I pulled at the futon sheet and twirled the corner in my palm. Focusing on this allowed me to get through the first half of the bottle. I felt my stomach grumble, but I continued. I stopped when I saw Hasako watching me. I could have sworn that she sensed my disgust with the beverage, however since we are not allowed to talk about the incident, she's never confirmed or denied my suspicions. My mother brings us back on track by opening the dam of questions regarding Hasako's experience.

She had none, she explained. Hasako just thought that it would be nice to have an international friend to teach Japanese to, and perhaps get the opportunity to simultaneously practice her English. Hasako definitely looked liked she regretted calling the number from the ad. If only she would have listened to her husband when he called her a fool to want to teach Japanese to Gaijin. "All you'll do is build the confidence of another one so they can go out in public and butcher the beautiful sound of our language." She didn't even pretend to care for his opinion. "It's not even that beautiful", she retorted. He stuffed a large mound of sweetened egg and white rice into his mouth, and with that, she left for her interview. After hearing the front door slide closed, Yuuki ran out as if not to be left alone with his father.

The first time that I refered to Yuuki as a momma's boy, Hasako's face looked confused, then suspicious. I assumed that my accusation was going to require an explanation, and I was right in guessing that Hasaka hadn't heard the term "momma's boy" before. By that point, which was maybe about 3 and a half months after the night my mother left and I decided to hire Hasako as my Japanese tutor, she was coming by about four days a week.

I most certainly did have an interest in learning Japanese, as I have run into many complicated problems based on my inability to speak or read the language. However, after the first 10 minutes of our initial session, I found that our personalities were not suited to these roles of student and teacher. She was too curious about what my life was all about, while at the same time, too polite to even hint at asking. Luckily for us both, however, what my life was all about happened to be my favorite topic of conversation.

After not much time at all, our roles became a bit easier to define. Hasako played as a musing listener to countless tangles of anecdotes ladened in misanthropic cynicism while I played the angry, didactic halophile. She would always respond to me with unyielding, calmingly wise advice. That's not to say she was unyeilding or calm. Her mannerisms suggested an absence of cinders in her blood, and many have foolishly passed her by because of it. But I understood perfectly the day she explained the source of her passions.

"Maybe it's because of the lava onsen," she began, "Along a tiny path behind a mikan grove, about half a kilometer from my house, there was a shrine that had a small natural hot spring pool in the back. My grandmother enjoyed when i'd bring her fire stones, so I'd walk there after school, carrying the stones in a little bucket. It was a very quiet journey, except for the afternoon reminder to the children that it is time to go home. Summer was the best season for this activity because the blossoms made me drunk with the envy of fire. Anyway, the lava onsen was much hotter than the other ones around our village, so nobody liked to go there to soak. It's color was a reddish brown, and i used to think that it smelled like when my mother was cooking eggs. I dipped the bucket into the water, and returned home. The stones would stay fire-hot all the way home, even after the water cooled. My grandmother would put them on her shoulders to soothe the muscles." She paused, waiting for me to say something. Strangely, I hadn't any questions. She continued, "So sometimes I feel like my firestones. Hot, then cold, depending on where I am. However, when I leave a hot place, I stay hot for a very long time. Longer than it is natural, maybe."

Of course, this form of therapy wasn't really bettering either of us, but rather entertaining the otherwise boring afternoons we may have spent alone, or even worse, with somebody else, whose company would most likely disappoint. Before our roles were made public to each other, I asked her how she felt about cynics. She told me that she wasn't really sure. I loved her for that second that it took her to make that admission. I explained that most people love skeptics and fear cynics. Skeptics doubt the details of what they hear and read, while cynics doubt the motives of those they hear or read it from. So I asked her again what she thought about cynics. She replied, "it sounds like cynics must not know very much about themselves, ne?" Why would she say that, I wondered.

And that was the second time I felt that thing in my tummy.

My stomach has always served as my crystal ball to many mysteries of life ranging from whether or not I trust someone to whether a plant is or isn't poisonous. On the first afternoon that Hasako saw me in boxers, my stomach soon demanded the room's attention. It bellowed and rumbled like a lawnmower engine. My mother was in the middle of asking about Hasako's husband when my engine swallowed a rock. Everyone looked up at me. I don't feel so good, I hummed. "What do you mean?" my mother asked.

That was probably the first valid question she's asked since she's been here. As you might imagine about cripples, I'm often in alot of pain. My not feeling so good is actually a quite common occurence, though not many people are very aware of it, since I'm quite the expert in both self-medicating and keeping quiet. If there's anything that annoys me more than my mother's recent visit, it's my distaste for complaining. Due to the displaced bone fragments from L-3 vertebrae down to my S-5, my spinal cord was crushed. The area just underneath my belly, and right above my mons is one of my most sensitive spots on my body, and just half an inch lower, I feel nothing. So when I announced that I didn't feel so good, that's just to say that my stomach felt full and gaseous. Whatever was happening in my stomach made my eyes tear up, and my mom tossed me a disconcerting look.

At this point, my apartment had been fully doused with uneasiness. I truly felt sorry for having put Hasako into this situation, when I could have easily waited until her and her son left. However, something told me that my mother would not have felt the same level of mortification had it just been us. In fact, it may have just been like any other day.

When I realized that neither Hasako nor Yuuki would ever mention that day again, I couldn't help but wonder why. Speaking specifically about Hasako, how was it that she felt that day, which made her raise her voice to me when I tried to apologize for what happened. "I cannot have the events of that day in my head", is all she had to say to shut me up. I believe it was the accentual strength of her T's that really drove the needles into my nerves. My head fell into a natural, shameful bow and my eyelids folded over my eyes as if they were a modest schoolgirl covering her nakedness in a crowded bath house. I constantly felt ashamed that after a six month affair with a married woman, I still continued to pay her to come and teach me Japanese.

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