By W.T. WIMPY HIROTO
(First published in The Rafu Shimpo on Feb. 1, 2012.)
*CR2S (Cee-Are-Two-Ess) no periods. Short for Crossroads to Somewhere, title of a weekly column in Wednesday editions of The Rafu Shimpo for the past two years; it took them about 100 years to discover author W.T. Hiroto. He explains in explanation: “In a challenging moment I decided to write a column without using a single personal pronoun – I/My/Me/Mine. Somehow I succeeded and thus evolved CR2S as a third- person pronounal reference.”
[*Explanation is in response to a surprising number of recent inquiries. Crossroads was a Li’l Tokyo Japanese American all-English weekly tabloid that ceased publication in 1970.]
A perfect segue to a story of column/caricature/comeuppance:
The logo caricature that appears at the top of each week’s column is the product of a talented Gardena-based artist, Toe Nojiri. Together with Kango Kunitsugu, we were in charge of doing a complete makeover of Nisei Week Festival souvenir booklet in the ’50s. The three-year project turned into an unplanned not-for-profit endeavor, but it didn’t matter in those days as long as there was Beefeater and Smirnoff. (Nojiri didn’t imbibe.)
In the end, to commemorate our successful but ill-fated labor of love collaboration, Toe drew the above portrait using only straight black India ink lines. Harder than you can imagine. What’s missing is the one- word caption at the bottom of the framed drawing: EGO. (Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Paul Conrad loved the sketch when I showed it to him.)
I’ve used Nojiri’s artwork proudly ever since. Today, while other Rafu scribes have photographic replicas atop their musings, I retain my favorite, old ID, for the pure and simple reason he made me look Wimpy, so why bother to change? Who cares the ravages of age and the plunder of time lines? I sure don’t. So a true identification of today’s CR2S author remains a mystery to many Rafu readers.
So there I stood in the foyer of Pasadena Convention Center, waiting for the doors to open for the legacy luncheon celebrating Keiro’s gala 50th anniversary. Taking in the impressive array of information booths and displays in the vast exhibit hall was too challenging for a guy who can’t walk too far. So I stood outside Entrance C, waiting for the doors to open.
Two perfectly coiffed Nisei ladies also stood waiting several yards away. I mean, shoot, you know, from sly glances and body language when someone is looking at/talking about you. I mean, hey, wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had the pleasure of replying “Yes” to the question of whether I was the Rafu Shimpo columnist. Or else maybe they were aware of brother Edwin’s historic connection with Keiro. Or wife Margaret’s lengthy tenure as its first licensed nursing home administrator. They had that out-of-town look, neatly dressed in Sunday best.
So I’m prepared for the not-long-in-coming, hesitant approach. If it turns into the expected writing compliment, a modest “You are too kind” always goes well when responding to the opening “Are you?” question. When admitting to being a younger sibling of one of the founders, a smiling “forever doomed to be the kid brother” shrug usually results in a knowing nod of agreement. If the opening salvo is, “Are you related to Margaret Hiroto?,” I always play the insignificant husband role, praising the Missus effusively.
Cautiously they approach.
“Please excuse our forwardness, but we’re two visiting physical therapists and we couldn’t help but notice …” (Here it comes: “Are you the Wimpy Hiroto that writes for the Rafu?” I’m already launching into my “aw shucks” pose when the companion lady picks up the thread of conversation.)
“We couldn’t help but notice the end of your cane lacks a rubber tip,” she explains. “It is especially dangerous on a slick marble floor like this one where without traction you can slip and have a terrible fall.”
I profusely thanked the dynamic duo for their awareness and timely warning and promised to get a walking staff with an appropriate tip before such an accident could occur. The ballroom doors opened and they quickly made their way inside, as if somewhat embarrassed by their forwardness.
The cane now has a rubber tip.
W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached by email. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.