Monday, January 08, 2007


I was once part of a military occupation. It was the occupation of Japan. I was even awarded a medal to prove it. They didn’t give me the medal. They almost never do that. They just put it on my service record that if I went out and bought it for myself and then wore it, it would be okay.

Cheap bastards.

Anyway, while I was protecting the Japanese from themselves, I was assigned to guard duty in a little empty theatre. The cleaning guy was an ex-Japanese soldier. I deduced that because of his age and because his clothing was almost a total uniform.

The guy finished his chores and went to an upright piano. He hit a couple of keys, turned to me and asked. “Okay?”

“Sure,” I said, “go ahead.”

He hit a couple more keys and asked again, “okay?”

“Yes,” I said, “you can play.
Again he hit some keys and asked, “Okay?”

It finally got through to me that “okay” was the limit of his English, so I said, “Okay.” He played happily. Poorly but happily.

I am a very slow learner in some areas. Even now, when I take a taxi ride in Bangkok, it’s hard for me to remember that international word. My instinct is to say, “Yes,” Correct,” or “That’s right,” when the only word that works is, “Okay.”

It is the international word.


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