Monday, March 13, 2006

Okinawa Memory

It's been a while since I've written about Okinawa. Urban Okinawa, for the most part, wasn't especially attractive. A lot of bulky concrete buildings that were painted white. Sometimes it seemed like an island of rectangular apartment buildings. I guess one of the reasons Okinawan architecture coule be so boring and modern at times is because much of it was levelel during World War II. I remember when the Burger King was being built at Camp Kinser they had to hault construction so the bomb squad could detonate a large bomb found on the building site. Like farming in Vietnam, construction on Okinawa could be risky.

When I could I would get off base and drive around the place. There were parts of Naha, the capital city a short drive from Camp Kinser, that were still quite beautiful and had some age to them. On this occasion I am out and about in my first few months on Okinawa. I don't remember how these couple of buddies and I ended up deep in Naha but it must have been early in my stay there because Twinkie was with us. Twinkie became a shut in after a couple of months into his year there. Some guys just couldn't handle being so far from home. I couldn't have been happier, to be honest.

Twinkie was called Twinkie because he looked like a Twinkie. He was short and a little round. He was one of those little guys that everybody likes. He had a loud raw voice and was comfortable in his littleness. He didn't have short-man syndrome and was fun to be around. It always saddened me that he shut himself off from everything Okinawa had to offer but so it goes. I tried a couple of times to get him to leave his room but he was happy to be locked up with his Ozzy Osborne tapes.

Three of us were walking through this older area of southern Naha. Perched at a corner at the bottom of a small hill was this small teahouse. We see an old old lady coming down the hill toward the shop which across the street from us. An equally tiny and old woman comes out of the teahouse. They recognize each other and exchange bows. Their bows were not in unison and the lady who received the first bow returned it. The first bower returned the second bow before the second bower finished. Then the second bower gave another one back. They were stuck in a bow loop. This went on for about thirty seconds. They did a semicircle around each other while bowing. They both then backed up while still bowing until there was enough distance between the two to allow them to politely turn and go on their way.

Twinkie summed our amazement up in the only way a young Marine could when he said, "That was pretty fucking cool."

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