(Published Feb. 17, 2016)

Free at last (with apologies to MLK).

Midway through yet another synopsis of the Kei-Ai (nee Keiro) story, I had an epiphany. No, not really, more a revelation. Actually, it was like a slap upside the head.

While proofreading the column, I came to the conclusion that it was time to give the subject a rest. At least for a week, return to the happier days of complaining about leg cramps, the inconvenience of having a car that won’t start, another battle with the Department of Motor Vehicles, and yeah, bringing everyone up to date on the antics of “Oh-bah-keh-sama.” No matter the interest in and importance of the Keiro situation, CR2S was in dire need of a break; a change of venue is what we all need.

= * =

From the sublime to the ridiculous, join me in a subject never before visited — quite a statement considering the hundreds of topics covered in the past. Let’s discuss a problem many elders have but seldom share: a lack of a full set of teeth and how to cope with the breach.

Falling back on an old Nisei habit of comparing the 21st Century to “the old days,” options were few when it came to dental procedures a long time ago. It was drilling and filling (with gold) or simply yanking. Either option meant ether, a smelly painkiller that wasn’t very effective. [Stories you may have heard about knotting a piece of string around a loose tooth and a door knob are true.]

No longer using gold caps, we thankfully enjoy much improved dental care today. Unfortunately, too many suffer the ravages of poor early maintenance; in my case, lower left molars. After a bridge gave way, years passed before I succumbed to the lure of a fancy substitute called an implant. Voila! After years of being strictly a right-mouth chewer, I finally found cud contentment. So taken by the experience, it was a slam dunk when the need for another faux tooth arose last year. Chewing and smiling, both without hesitation or reservation. What a great country we live in.

Well, guess what happened. One of those only-CR2S moments: the first implant, which wasn’t more than five-six years old, came out, kerplunk! There is a loose screw in my mouth instead of in my head. Hey, a procedure that takes a couple of months to complete and costs a couple thousand bucks should have longevity, no? Like forever?

Now I’m back to right-mouth chomping, where the one-year-old second implant remains solidly in place (installed by another dentist). The faux molar sits in the medicine cabinet, its tread rusted, a reminder of failed service. I’m undecided about a replacement. It’s not like a hip or knee, right? [And since CR2S has had nothing but a string of competent dentists, maybe I should point out my initial venture into the world of implants was not with a Jappo DDS. Naw, that wouldn’t be nice.]

As is my wont, all roads lead to an Arizona relocation/concentration camp in Arizona. In Poston I never sat in a dentist’s chair. Probably should have, but didn’t. I never visited an optometrist either, or a urologist for that matter. When you think about it, which probably isn’t very often, Nisei are best known as good students, courteous, hard working and all that jazz, but pretty sure not for outstanding teeth or a Julia Roberts smile.

= * =

Now that we’ve got the ridiculous part of the column out of the way, bravo and cheers. Maybe not exactly sublime, but it’s time for a reunion with our old friend, “Oh-bah-keh-sama.”

For whatever reason, her visitations have fallen off drastically. There was only one “knock-knock” episode the entire month of January. It was nothing special, merely a very soft sequence of two raps. After that, nada, nothing.

Up to this point in February, again only a single visitation.

[I find it prudent to now and again remind readers I’m seldom in a deep slumber when “O” drops by. This is because CR2S isn’t a sound sleeper. No matter the time of morning, I’m aware of her presence the second of first knock. So I’m seldom abruptly awakened, even though technically asleep. Makes no sense, but that’s how it is with weird people.]

Anyway, it’s 2:40 a.m., February 6th when there are two very loud knocks on my door. The kind made when someone is demanding entry, an authoritative person, like a landlord or cop. It was as insistent as two raps could be; so un-“O”-like! So there I am — alert and quite honestly uncertain — undecided whether to get out of bed and go to the door to take a look-see — something I quit doing years ago. So I didn’t. And that’s that. Nothing. Nor since.

= * =

Followers of the eerie experiences with “O” continue to inform me of personal experiences with the preternatural. As well as interesting stories and clippings from magazines and newspapers. I recently received an email giving insight into how international the phenomena of the unknown are: Taxi drivers in Ishinomaki reporting “phantom fares.”

This is an area in Japan that was devastated by the 2011 tsunami. According to several cabbies this year, they would pick up a fare. When turning to address the passenger, he or she has vanished! Horrified drivers refer to the phenomenon as ghost passengers. To me they are victims of the tragedy trying to find a way home. But again the old equalizer: What do I know?

W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at williamhiroto@att.net. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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