The Stranger In The Night’s Storm


Yesterdays drive home was pretty interesting due to all the rain and all. I have been driving my wife’s Mustang back and forth this week due to my Pathfinder being down for the time being. I never realized, really before yesterday, why I don’t like driving cars, especially low profile cars, in storms that are dropping so much water that we are flash flooding everywhere. I never thought this to be a problem until yesterday afternoon, when I was the one in the low profile sports car fighting to be able to see. Something I never suffered or even thought about in my Pathfinder, but it sucks ass in that Mustang, way too low to the ground for me personally. I had that on my mind as I arrived home, still pouring rain, and wondering how much longer I would be doing this drill because I’m not a fan. I really don’t know how my wife does it, but I’ve never heard her complain, don’t think I ever will, because she will never talk shit about her new baby, never. Me, I can, she’s not my baby, my baby is sick, sitting in the drive waiting for Dr. Scorpion to have the money to operate, which will be very soon.

Other than that little challenge, the day was rounding out pretty normal for our house, I was getting dinner ready, secret recipe chicken cordon bleu, everything about it is a secret, and no I will never share it with anyone, I will die with my secret, which is why it is prepared like a black op in my kitchen. I’ve been making this recipe for, let’s call it 25 years or so, many have asked to eat it, many have asked how I make it, and I have yet to cough it up. It’s time consuming, the preparation takes some time, but it gives time to get the twice baked potatoes going as well, another secret, everyone stays the fuck out of my kitchen when I’m going, nobody wants to get cut, except my wife, she braves entering the secrecy of what I’m doing to sneak a kiss. She’s a naughty one you know. After it was all prepared, cooked, the kitchen cleaned spotless, we sat down to eat. We had a “weird” quiet dinner, the mood was as dark as the skies with the storms. Everyone looks tired. Afterwards, we are all fat and happy, kids off to the bath, and its time to wind this bitch down finally.

Sometime just after eight someone is knocking on the front door. My wife and I give each other “that look” of WTF!, shrugging my shoulders I get up out of my chair to check out the knocking on the door. When I swing open the door I see a younger girl standing before me, finding out later she is 20. My initial questions were who are you and what do you want. In my head I was saying, “we’ve found Jesus, we don’t donate to politics, we don’t do surveys, and unless you are selling thin mints this conversation is over”. She introduced herself, I didn’t recognize her name, or her for that matter. Well, she said she would like to talk to me if I had the time, she thinks I can help her with finding something she is looking for. Once we are inside, I invited her in because I was somewhat intrigued, meanwhile I was getting the stink eye from my wife. The young lady presented me with a letter from her mother, in this letter I was listed as a “next of kin” and that she needed to contact me for information on her biological father. Then it hit me, her mother’s name I recognized, talk about a name from the past, like many moon ago past. Apparently her mother and a very, very good friend of mine had a go at it while we were all stationed in Korea together, except she failed to tell any of us she had become pregnant, as it happened she found out after she had rotated back to the world, back to her husband, then she is told she is 3 weeks pregnant. She failed to let her husband know the particulars, just told him she was pregnant.

Obviously many years have past since then, many, and the lives of everyone change as well, divorces happen. Anyway, what had led her to ask a question or three was because of the man she called dad, he needed a kidney, she agreed to donate him one because that is what family does, I tend to agree. But guess what? His daughter, the girl he raised for most of her life, wasn’t a match for donation. But how can that be? We know why, because he’s not her biological father. Needless to say, questions were asked, no real answers could be given, except for one, which was me, because her mother knew that if anyone knew where to find him it would be me. Luckily, she was right, I do know where and how to find him. First, I called her mother, who sent me to voicemail, and I was told that she has chosen to disappear for a while because she doesn’t want to face anyone, especially her daughter. I made one phone call, from the privacy of my bedroom, to my friend, who wasn’t shocked, or at least he didn’t seem shocked or a bit surprised. He gave me permission to give her all of his contact information, his name, and everything related. Ready for the twist? Okay, he was married to wife #1 at the time of conception, divorces a few years later because he caught her red handed cheating on him. Since then, there has been a #2, #3, and a #4, only with wife #1 were there any kids, one son. Now, the kicker, after all these years, guess who he is dating once again, and talking about marriage, wife #1. He is unsure how she will take this news. That’s a damn fine question, how will she take it?

Needless to say, as curious as I am about if he actually comes clean, I don’t think he will. As much as I think of him as family, I know he has two weaknesses in life, women and alcohol, usually mixed together, over and over, repeat, so on and so forth. But, I’ve known this sonofabitch for many, many years, we visited hell and returned a few times over, which is why I keep up with him. He’s really not the kind of person I hang around with these days, simply because I’m too old to run around drinking like a single guy and I know from personal experience how hard that is on family life and marriages in particular. Anyway, back to the story. We talked about her mom a while, a name I hadn’t thought of in probably 20 years, we came back to the world and everyone who was friends over yonder just lost touch. She talked awhile and decided that it was time for her to go. She apologized for taking up our time and away she went. My wife and I had a long conversation about what happened while I was stationed in Korea. How do you explain what happens in another country while away from your family for 15 months one time and 14 months another time. Might as well want to talk about all the times I spent in Las Vegas or any other place I went to. I admit only one thing for myself that I wish would have been different, which was literally being drunk the entire time. I also admitted that I was true to my now ex-wife, I didn’t need or want the trouble. Was it lonely? Yes. And I drank myself into oblivia to keep that shit from driving me crazy. Tempted? Yes. But, the plus for me was I stayed really busy, I did my AF job and I had a part time job as well, not for the money, but to keep the mind and hands busy.

Anyway, be careful of the bumps in the night, it might just be a blast from the past, and that just might lead to questions about things, people, and places that we spent years forgetting. Trust me, a person never married to someone who was in the military has a very hard time understanding that there are times they must be separated for any length of time, which is the death of many marriages, trust me, I know this personally.

Behind The Scenes Of Living In Misawa Japan

Originally Posted 06 September 2011
My earliest traveling after joining the United States Air Force was to Misawa AB Japan. Take a moment and locate that there on the northern tip of Japan. Misawa was nicknamed “The Tip Of The Spear” for some reason, probably due to extreme northern location. My wife (now ex) and I arrived here on 24 December 1989 at 8ish in the morning after a 15 hour flight. After some very quick processing at the terminal, we grabbed our bags, a taxi, and headed to billeting (dorms the military call transient rooms). The first thing we noticed was how freaking cold it was and the second thing how deserted this part of the base looked. Have I ever mentioned I am from Houston Texas? Where the day I left I was swimming in the back yard with a temperature of low 80’s, and now, here, in northern Japan, it was 8 degrees f.? We get to billeting and my sponsor (supervisor who was assigned to get us settled) was waiting to get us set up. We were rather tired, so we napped for a few hours and then walked across the street to Burger King for some dinner. After a delightful meal, we decided to get back to the room and get organized and whatnot.

The next morning, Christmas day, we woke to 41 inches of snow that fell over night in one of the heaviest snowstorms in 100 years. Vehicle movement on base was limited to emergency vehicles and snow removal equipment. No exploring today. However, the following day, my sponsor shows up at 7 am and greets us with some Burger King breakfast. We ate and then ventured out to find a car and a place to live. We found out, quickly, cash (Yen) is king in these parts. First, we got a car, a 2 y/o Honda Accord, $2000.00. Next, we went to a realtor and she rented us this cool 6 room condo style house for $800.00 a month. Both before noon, how cool was that. So, now life begins here at the tip of the spear, we got settled, and life was pretty good.

I was not aware of the vending machine population here. One can buy everything, yes everything, out of a vending machine. Anything from a drink to real estate and everything in between. Which was cool, I have a “bank” of vending machines 20 ft from my front door. Speaking of front doors, we had bowls just inside our front door where all your bills were paid. Couriers would leave a bill in one, you put your money out, and later he/she would come back to retrieve it. We never had to go anywhere to pay bills. Ok, we lived in a rafter large house for 2 people, we had a giant bathroom (1). But this bathroom had a tub about the size of a legal notepad, it was so small I never once attempted to get into it. At 6’8″, I need just a little leg room. At that point, I realized I was in the land of the little people. I say that in a very kind way and not meant to be a bash on them as a people, but the Japanese in general are very small people, not trying to be derogatory by no means.

When we first moved in this house, I had noticed this business that operated 24/7 that was directly behind our house. We would see people walking in robes and slippers as well as getting out of their cars the same way. I was surprised and happy to find out it was a public bath house. In simple terms, it is a place to bath, relax, and get a steam. Afterwards, one could get a snack also. These ranged from very basic to the styling of a major resort. I lived in the country, so this one was rather large, but on the simple functional side of things. There were also ones for women, ones for men, coed, and family. The one behind my house was a family style one. Which means that both sexes bathed together, as a family unit. People of all ages, from infant to the elderly would be here. Plus, it was very cheap, about 75 cents a visit. I would normally go to bathe twice a day, no different a habit than being back in Texas. At first it was a little weird, but then became “normal” and part of the everyday way.

Even tho gambling isn’t legal here, like many places, they found ways to get around all that. I stayed away from most of it, with the exception of pachinko parlors. The noisiest places on the face of the planet. Pachinko is an upright style pinball machine in the most basic of terms to describe it. Google it, then you will get it. Anyway, you put money in, and if you win, you get these steal bearings in return to collect. Collect for what? Prizes, cigarettes, coupons, food, and a whole slough of crap you don’t want. Or, after a few times going and they don’t think you are the law, you can make your way out back and give a code and the slot in the door opens. You give the guy your ticket, he gives you back a handful of cash. Always something to keep in mind.

There are many fine places to eat, even out here in the country. Being from the gulf coast, I really love seafood. I thought I had a grip on the whole seafood thing. Wrong, way wrong answer. I don’t know jack about seafood. When you want seafood here, its a little bit different. I will eat almost anything. I do, however, draw the line when my food is looking back at me, then blinks. I have heard of fresh, but never so fresh they kill it at your table right in front of you. As cool as that seems boys and girls, the first time always makes you a little squeamish. I ate more unidentifiable things while in Japan than I had ever even known imaginable, and I have a very vivid imagination. Sushi bars were my favorite. I tried to go to a different one at least three times a week. The food was cheap, they prepared it in front of me, and it tasted fantastic!

Out where we lived, as well as allover Japan, there were establishments called “Love Motels”. Not unlike the little motel on the edge of most towns where people thought they were getting away with something but the whole town knows, yea, that kind of place. A very popular destination for the married men of Japan. I don’t know if I would call it socially acceptable, but it was common for the men to have mistresses and these motels are their meeting places. They are very business like places, not unlike driving up to a drive thru at McDonald’s. There is a menu, mix and match, customize or go for the prepackaged deals, your choice. Select, pay, pull into your private stall/garage. My ex and I had to try it out, used the Texas room. In fact, my oldest daughter was conceived that very night. Do a little research on these for yourselves, to much to put right here, right now.

In Japan, we saw so many festivals that it would make some peoples head spin. There is a festival to celebrate just about any occasion you might be able to imagine. We went to so many festivals that they all started running together. I had my favorites that we would go to every year. Up north where I was, there are many local festivals. I will do a post or two another time with my favorites.

We had a great time in Japan. I saw so much that I never knew even knew existed, and now they are things I wish I could still be a part of today. Living in Japan is way different than being a tourist there. When one immerses oneself in the culture, we get to see the real side of where you really are. I highly recommend living in another country, it opens your eyes. I only touched on a few things here today, about 10% of what we actually did. Living there was cultural shock, but the shock helped us expand our minds and let us appreciate another culture.