The other day I was at my favorite school and I was handed a sticker to put on my car. It was described as "child safety." That statement seemed important, so I inquired further. The detailed description I was then given was "help from bad man." And of course this narrative featured some charades.
The translation of this new automobile accessory is that children will know that I have a sort of safe car. For example, if the bad man is on the prowl then my car and the person driving my car is there to help the child.
I would not have been so eager to put that sticker on my Jeep. But these days, I drive home from work, hope that there is tuna sushi or tomatoes on sale at the grocery store and I do not have to worry about any of the creeps that might need a ride to work. This Toyota is my car, the only person who relies on it is me and I can say with all confidence that I will help keep all bad men out of this town I drive around in.
I placed this sticker on my windshield with as much delicacy as my fingers allow. I am sure most other women of Ikeda are able to eyeball a perfectly straight line between this sticker and their windshield. But I have not been so fortunate as to spend my childhood outside placing rice in strategic lines as part of the school day and I will not spend my old age folding my tea ceremony napkin with sensitive precision.
But because I am taking on these slightly awkward tasks in my 24th year my mouth waters at the thought of that September rice harvest, I genuinely slurp every sip of my green tea after I have stirred it and and placed my hands on their choreographed place on my tea cup and I want to keep every nonnative word that comes out of my mouth that a Japanese person can then keep for their own knowledge.