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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Chapter 09 - End of the First Day

I went to the cafeteria and so did everyone else. It was crowded in there; it felt like everyone in the entire school decided to hang out in one place. Masses of people sat on or around the lunch tables. Floods of people streamed from one side to the other side of the great room. While hopelessly searching for my brother, I noticed an empty table. It was mostly quiet in the area, so I sat there and waited for Tony.

Ten minutes seems like an eternity when you wait for someone; but at last I found him. He was talking to two other boys. Both were about the same height as my brother; both kids had black hair and brown eyes. One was far skinner than the other. The other looked older and smiled more. I got up and walked to join them.

I greeted my brother and he began to introduce me.

"This is my brother Mike and he's a freshman." said Tony.

"Hi I'm Ricardo. This is my brother Jeff", said the older looking one.

Jeff he reached out his hand for a shake and said "Hi." in a somewhat goofy laugh.

I shook his hand and Ricardo's as well.

"Hi, are you both in the same grade as Tony?" I asked.

"I am, but Ricardo is a Junior." replied Jeff.

I turned and ask my brother, "How did you guys meet?"

"During lunch," Tony replied. "I needed a place to sit, so I sat with them."

I envied my brother a little; he could always approach anybody. He was good at making friends. I was too, but not as fast as he. And if it came to girls, I wasn’t even in the same league. After a bit, we all began talking about the first day of school.

"Come over here Arman", yelled Jeff as he looked over my shoulder.

I turned and saw a pair of Asian boys standing beside me. In an instant I knew they were Filipino; Pinoys just like me. They had black hair and brown eyes, but both were taller than my brother. One seemed older and the other younger than me; however, their common posture gave them away as brothers.

"What's up Jeff my man?" replied Arman.

"Let me introduce you to our new friends. This is Tony and his brother Mike", said Jeff.

"Hello, I'm Arman and this is my brother Bert."

My brother and I proceeded to shake hands with Arman. However his brother was a bit timid as he only nodded.

We all spoke for a while and found a lot of things in common. We also found out that all of us lived in different areas; Gate one, gate four, and Tori Station. Then everyone left to catch the buses that would take us to our homes.


After getting back to my home I decided to rest on the couch. Today was a big day, but finally it was over. I didn't get too much homework, so I decided to relax for a while. As I lay on the couch, my brother sat next to me and turned on the TV. My body began to diffuse into the furniture, my eye lids came down gently and I slowly started to drift into Neverland. As I began my journey, I heard a few faint words from my brother, "Hey Mike, how can you fall asleep? It’s Gundam time!"

That was the most entertaining first day of school that I would ever have. It's the only first day of school that I will never forget. At the time, I never could have imagined that many of my lifelong friendships started on that day. And that sometimes, your first impressions of people are completely wrong. That day was truly the start of my life as an Okiboy.

Chapter 08 - Dangerous Animals

The day felt endless and I was tired, but exhaustion brought a well earned gift, experience. I wasn't lost anymore; I had uncovered the secrets of the labyrinth. I turned the last corner and saw my destination. It was the last class of the day, the last stop on my journey to freedom. The classroom door was ajar and the next wave of students flowed in.

As I approached the doorway, I heard a strange humming sound. It was a familiar sound, yet unrecognizable. My ears began to tune in intently as a harmony of gurgling sounds began to crescendo. The aroma of the salt water filled the air, the ocean was near; I could feel it. I entered the doorway and found...an amusement park.

Welcome to Marine World, I thought. White octagon tables littered the classroom and a sea of saltwater and glass lined the walls. The ambiance of the classroom was unlike any other in the school. It felt alive. One wall had a blackboard, but a platoon of fish tanks guarded the remaining walls. A snapshot of the ocean roamed within each tank. A variety of sea life flourished in captivity; fish, sea urchins, corals and crustaceans were easily viewed by all.

With a clear view of the aquarium, I spotted a table with an empty pair of seats. It was towards the right side and in the middle of the classroom. It seemed like a good place to test my luck. Two students were already seated at the table as I approached. As I arrived I interjected, "Hi is this seat taken?"

"Nope, feel free. Are you new here?" said one boy.

"Yes." I replied and sat down. "Hi I'm Mike."

"Hi I'm Bernard", said the boy.

He was larger than me, with brown hair and blue eyes. He seemed like an upperclassman, but I couldn't tell which grade he was in.

"Are you to new Okinawa or did you come from Kubasaki?" he asked.

"I just came to Kadena over the winter break, but I used to live in Okinawa 7 years ago", I replied.

"This classroom is different from the rest. It looks strange."

"It's a science classroom, that's why there are tables in here and not desks", added Bernard. "There a lot of dangerous animals in here, so be careful."

"Thanks.", I said, as I started to drift into the colorful world of Ichthyology.

Moments later a familiar voice broke my gaze. She said, "I'm new to this class, is this seat taken?"

"Nnnn...nope", replied Bernard. But his voice seemed unnatural, it sounded a bit nervous.

I turned and saw...her.

"Hi, I'm Alison. What are your names?" she said.

The other boys introduced themselves and then it was my turn.

Still shocked, I couldn't believe my eyes. Joining the fungus family in public didn't seem like a good idea. Luckily, I was tired and had no energy to chase butterflies.

"Hi, I'm Mike", I replied, "and I'm new to Kadena."

"Me too. This is my first day here and this place is very different from my last school", she said as she sat down.

You don't have to tell me, I thought.

"You look familiar; do we have another class together?"

My knuckles grew white as my fists began to tighten; I think she remembered how we first met. The ice bucket, no not the ice bucket!

"Did you stay at the temporary housing a month ago?"

Reacting without thinking I said "Nope, you must have me confused with someone else." with a smile.

We continued to talk about lives before Kadena and other things. And for the first time, she didn't make me nervous. We continued our idle chat until the porcupine appeared.

It was a brown highlighted haired porcupine and it spoke with a low toned but somehow whiney European accent.

"Good afternoon class.", she said as she walked to her desk.

She looked towards our table and said "You must be the new students. My name is Ms. Walker, welcome to Biology".

"I know you have been on break for a while, but remember class, don't play with the tanks. Some of the animals in there can kill you." she said intently.

She then continued to remind the class of the dangers that lurked in the classroom and that she would punish those that misbehaved.

Was she serious? Were the animals in the tank that dangerous? Who would put dangerous animals in a classroom? The concept seemed slightly insane.

I whispered to Bernard, "Is she serious, are there dangerous animals in the tanks?"

He nodded, "I'm not sure if you would die, but there are a few that could take off a finger or make you real sick." replied Bernard.

My eyebrow arched as I pondered the situation. This class is going to be fun. Dangerous animals, nice table mates, and Alison sat next to me. Yeah, this was going to be a great class!

Without hesitation, Ms. Walker began her discussion about flatworms. And I listened; science always interested me.

The class proceeded as normal until a unknown object flew through the air and landed near a student in the front of the class. Ms. Walker didn't notice as her back was turned to the class. She was too busy enlightening us on the internals of the flatworm on the blackboard.

Then came a second projectile flying through the air and I recognized it this time; it was a paper ball. This one hit its mark. The victim returned a cold stare towards the back of the classroom. He seemed annoyed, but no response taken.

I heard several snickers and looked towards the table at the back of the classroom. A silent high five was shared between the culprits, a black haired boy and his freckled dark red haired co-conspirator. I looked again, and it was Joe. Two classes with this joker; what bad luck. His accomplice was different from the last time, but I was sure both Joe and his accomplices were bad news.

For the remainder of the class a few more paper balls took flight. However, no one got in trouble and no projectiles came our way.

Finally, the bell rang. I collected my things, gave my salutations to Alison and went off to look for my brother.

I didn’t know at the time, but the most dangerous animals in the classroom lurked outside the fish tanks. I didn’t realize the fact until years later, but by then it was too late.

Chapter 07 - A Familiar Sound

Lunch was hopeless; he was nowhere to be found. My endless quest began to tire as Ponce de Leon became my traveling companion. My brother was missing, so I sat there alone and ate my lunch. I spent the majority of my lunch time searching for him so I only had a few minutes left to finish it. Eating alone sucks and I wondered how long it would take to make friends. Luckily I didn't have time to dwell on my solitude; the bell rang and I resumed my path to enlightenment once more.

Geometry made me uneasy. I was carrying a C average in the subject back in California; l wondered if I could do better at this school. I made my way through the halls and managed to find the room.

It looked like an ordinary classroom except that that this one was active and more boisterous than normal. Two geometric tools sat on the green chalkboard. A worn triangle and a compass, both made out of wood. Most of the seats had been taken, either by people, books, or notepads. Not knowing what to do, I stood by the teacher’s desk. I noticed an empty seat by the front of the class. I placed my notebook on the desk and went to the pencil sharpener along the wall.

Suddenly I felt a presence; there were two of us standing there. A boy with curly hair, brown eyes, and a friendly smile stood next to me. He looked mixed; I was sure he was only half Asian.

"Hi, I'm James. Are you new to this class? Are you a freshman?" he said.

"Yes, I'm new and I'm a freshman", I replied.

"Well, I don't think you should sit there. You should sit by me, there are upperclassmen in here", he said.

Perplexed; I didn't know what to think. I've been in classes with upperclassmen before, so this conversation seemed like another strange meeting. Feeling no signs of a threat, I collected my belongings and followed James to his desk towards the back of the class. I sat in front of him.

"Hey kid, are you a freshmen?" said a deep voice to my right.

"Yes.", I replied and turned to the voice. He was big Asian kid. Dark skin, black hair, brown eyes; taller than my brother and with a much wider frame. He wore a collared shirt, had brown coke bottles glasses, acne, and his hair seemed a tad greasy.

"My name is Renno. You should respect your upperclassman and listen to me", he said in an oppressive tone.

Another troubling introduction; is this school an insane asylum? Or am I stuck in the middle of a bad TV show. I let out a deep breath as to give myself some condolences.

Suddenly, Renno grinned. I realized he was joking and James started to laugh. Maybe these people were normal.

"Hi, I'm Mike", I told them as we started our introductions. I soon found out that we all had the same lunch period.

"Who is the teacher?" I asked.

"Ms. Pensikowski", said Renno.

"She is mean and strict, but I've actually learned something", added James.

Suddenly the class became quiet as she entered the room.

The teacher stood by her desk and looked at me and said, "You must be new. Come over here."

While talking with the teacher another student came into the room. He looked a bit wary and he seemed out of breath. He said was lost and that he was new to the class. Ms. Pensikowski told him to sit at my original destination. Afterwards class went on as expected.

Halfway through the class I noticed two boys exchanging what seemed to be a note. Then I heard it. It was a familiar sound, “Zip!”

“Now what could that be?” I thought.

"Zip", I heard it again. Some of kids next to me began to snicker.

"Zip" a third time, but this time it sounded too familiar.

I could see the originator of the note silently mouthing "You are an idiot, don't you know how to use it? Give it back to me."

Then it was tossed back and I saw it, a green lighter. What the heck where they doing with a lighter in the middle of class?

The teacher turned and looked suspiciously around but the gremlins were nowhere to be found.

With a single flick, the black haired boy found fire. He was a stout fellow and he was about the same height as me. However, his eyes were devious and his smile was filled with intent.

The co-conspirator, the bigger blond kid was still looking at the chalkboard. Slowly, the black haired boy leaned over from his adjacent chair and put the lighter under his pants.

A few moments later, the blond kid suddenly jumped, and both were smiling at each other. I couldn't believe my eyes. I was shocked and silent. Renno on the other hand began to snicker convulsively. He could barely control himself.

The teacher turned and saw them. She seemed a bit upset and said, "Joe get back into your seat, now! Richie stop goofing around. Geometry is not for clowns!"

Joe and Richie returned to their seats and class resumed. But the ceasefire didn’t last long. A few minutes later, I heard it again, "Zip.” I leaned down the aisle way and saw Richie's hand below the new kid's desk.

"Ouch!" screamed the new kid as he leapt out of his chair. The entire class was laughing and quite a few kids, uncontrollably. I only managed to control myself when I saw Mrs. Pensikowski’s red face.

She turned and looked angrily at the new kid," What are you doing! Sit down, now."

The new student feeling quiet embarrassed and probably completely unaware as to what just happened, stood in shock. With a few hand gestures, he tried to explain the pain, but no words came out. Feeling humiliated he sat down.

The class was still laughing until the teacher told us to quiet down. The remaining 10 minutes passed by quickly and without incident.

As I got up, I turned and said to Renno, "Who are those assholes?"

"Well, they are a pair of class clowns. Joe and Richie, I can't believe we are in the same grade. You'd best stay away from them, because they are trouble and they can kick your ass too", replied Renno.

Right, I said to myself. Stay away from them; it’s too easy to pick on a 90 pound freshmen.

As we left the room, I turned to James and said "Thanks."

He nodded, smiled, and said, "Hey, do you play D&D?" as we walked down the hall.

Little did I know at the time, that trouble came in black haired packages named Joe. I could have heeded Renno's warning back then, but fate would not allow it. If I did, I would probably have a lot less to write about. And by the way James, thanks for saving me from the frying pan.

Chapter 05 - The First Day of School

It was cold for the tropics. My body shivered as I rose out of bed. Damn, that alarm clock was loud. Turning if off, I passed by the looking glass. The boy that saw me seemed a bit nervous and messy. His black hair had gone awry, his brown eyes beckoned for more sleep, and the bed sheet trauma on his face looked like the canals on Mars. Luckily neither one of us felt like talking. As I strode by the window; the January sun began to indulge me. Suddenly I felt a bit warmer. Still a bit groggy, crawling back into bed seemed like a good idea.

Suddenly the door opened.

"O-hi-o. You'd better start moving or you'll be late", said my mom in Japanese. "The bus will be here in 20 minutes."

20 minutes, I said to myself. That seemed like a lot of time. Then I realized what I had to do. Wash up, get dressed, and eat. My stomach spoke; breakfast began to consume my mind. The scent of fresh eggs and warm toast suddenly filled my senses. It smelled great and my mouth began to water. Food seemed like a great idea, and then my brain reminded me that today was different.

"Oh crap!” I said and bolted for the shower.

It was cold on the side walk. We waited there, my brother and me. The neighborhood was an interesting place. Concrete houses lined the street and several small trees dotted the urban landscape. Sewer canals joined us on the street and the scent of fresh rain was the other companion. If it wasn't for the cleanliness, I would have thought we were in a shanty town. Everything seemed a bit grey and green. Even the sun was a bit moody as clouds gathered above. We had recently moved to Su-na-be, just outside Gate One of Kadena Air Force Base. A few weeks ago we left our temporary quarters and began living in a concrete box that I would call my home.

I thought to myself,”I wonder what high school would be like."

My brother stood there quietly and reserved. Nothing in the world seemed to bother him that day. I was wondering what he was thinking. Could he be nervous like me?

Then he spoke. "Try to have some fun today. Let's meet up for lunch."


The school bus was noisy; boys and girls alike were talking and yelling, basically doing everything to disturb my peace. I sat there quietly with my brother. As I stared out the window, the land looked foreign to me. But still, it felt familiar. Something in deep within my soul told me to be at ease. The land was in my blood; my mother was an Okinawan. This was her homeland and I felt it as well. Suddenly, the concrete jungle disappeared and a lush green landscape overwhelmed our bus. We left su-na-be and had entered gate one of the base. I could see the guard waving us along as we passed the gate and headed up the long grey road that would lead us to our destination.

As we approached the other buses, I could see the silhouette of the grey buildings in the distance. Hundreds of students filled the landscape. Books, backpacks, and a rainbow of colors shuffled along the school's shore. Suddenly the clouds broke. The gleaming white building began to shine. It was beautiful, I thought. Quite unlike the old high school I attended back in the southern California desert. That school was dingy and worn down. Kadena on the other hand, looked like a white palace in a lush green valley. It was the first day of the second semester, 1985 and I was eager to find out more about this place.


A handful of us sat in the library. This is where the new students congregated to pick up their class schedules. Everyone waited idly for their turn. As we waited, a few of us introduced ourselves and began to talk about where we just came from, a few from Europe, some from mainland Japan, a couple from state side, but none from the high desert.

Suddenly a brash voice broke our conversation.

"Hello, Adonis is here, what are your names?” said the voice.

He was taller than me and my brother and from the reaction of the girls around him, somewhat handsome. It was easy to see that he wasn't talking to the guys. Filled with bravado he joined our conversation. Without hesitation he began recite the story of his life.

Feeling a bit bored from the self centered banter, I decided to get up and move to a solitary couch a few feet away.

As I sat and waited a shadow suddenly appeared. I turned to investigate and I discovered a curly, blond haired, and blue eyed girl. She carried a thin build and was about the same height as me.

"Hi, I'm Margaret. I heard that you are Okinawan. Is that true?” she said.

"Yes", I replied.

I did mention that I was partly Okinawan a bit earlier, but I don't remember her being there.

Margaret smiled and suddenly asked me. "I heard Okinawan’s are hairy. Is that true?"

"What the heck was that?” I thought. How can I answer that question? My body was a bit late maturing so my manly hairs have yet to arrive.

Feeling on the spot and completely embarrassed. The best I could muster was, "Got me."

I could see the disappointment in her face and as she readied to place me into a more embarrassing position, luckily a voice broke my despair.

"Mike, could you please follow me to the counseling office" said one of the counselors.

Yo-ka-tta! I was saved.

I rendered my salutations to Margaret and walked off to the counseling office.

As I stepped, I thought to myself, what a strange thing to ask. What a strange girl and I hope I’ll never see her again.

As fate would have it, I would see Margaret in the majority of my classes for the rest of year. Every time I'd see her, I always felt slightly embarrassed, since I never did answer her question. Nothing quite like being a freshman at a new school and constantly walking on egg shells around a girl; to top it off I was never really interested in her.

Chapter 06 - Homeroom

It was the first day of school and I was lost. The school was big and loud. Hundreds of conversations flooded my ears. A sea of bodies ebbed and flowed throughout the passageways. Difficult to move and unable to see the stars, I lost my bearings. The hallways seemed endless. White wall, lockers, doors, lights, signs, lockers, doors; everything looked the same. Feeling that I would never find the room; I felt my stomach clutch. You idiot I thought, just calm down. Regaining some composure, I suddenly saw it. 101. This was the room, the door was wide open and so I entered.

To my surprise the room seemed already full. After a careful inspection, there were two desks open. The desks were towards the back and seemed like a nice place to get lost in the crowd. As I reached my destination, I noticed that one of the desks had a pink notebook sitting on its seat, so I decided to take the other chair. It was a plastic seat with a snarl of shiny metal and an un-majestic wood desktop to match. Inscribed on it were, "I love Amy", "Menudo forever", "Jack is bad", and "for a good time call 234-"...it really didn't matter what was written on it, I needed a seat. I collected myself, breathed sigh of relief and sat down.

"Hi, I'm Zoey, do you like Menudo?” she said.

Looking to my left I saw a friendly face, brown eyes, brown hair and a smile to match. She reminded me of my Hispanic elementary school friends in Texas. Oddly, she seemed overly eager to speak with me.

As conversion reentered my mind, I thought "What a strange introduction?" Two weird introductions in one day, what the heck, is everyone here weird?

"Hello, do you speak English?” Zoey asked inquisitively.

"What?" I said. "Of course I do." I started to feel annoyed.

"Sorry, I just drifted a bit; it's my first day of school. To answer your question, sure I like menudo, my dad makes it all the time."

She looked very puzzled and said. ”What? I'm talking about the band".

"What band?" I replied.

"This one" she replied and joyfully showed me her Menudo folder containing all boy members of the band.

Perplexed, I didn't know what to say. Then I remembered that I might have seen a music video once...

"I think I saw a video on Saturday morning after the Smurfs."

Oh crap! I said it. I just admitted I watched the Smurfs. Oh Azrael, help me know.

"Oh my god, tell me more!" she exclaimed. "Aren't they beautiful, and they sing so well and I listen to them in Spanish too."

Whew, she missed it. I thought my freshmen year would be ruined; I didn't want to be known as the Smurf watching freshman. A girl might be able to get away with it, but not a guy. Hoping to bury my shame deeper, I decided to dive into the world of Menudo.

"I don't really remember much, but I guess they can sing." I said.

"They are the best singers in the world, especially Ricky. I love Ricky." she replied.

With that, I realized that I was having a sensible conversation about Menudo. Once again a topic that was bad for guys, but OK for middle school girls. Correction, really bad for a guy! Suddenly, admitting that I watched the Smurfs seemed like a better idea. If another guy heard this conversation... oh crap, think fast.

"In the Philippines, there's a dish called Menudo. It's made with meat, potatoes, and raisins and...” I said.

Suddenly a voice broke my ill-fated conversation. "What's your name?” said the empty chair next to me.

"Mike", I replied as I turned to see who spoke.

I didn't know what to say. Shocked. Stunned. Fate was being cruel today.

Sitting there was Margaret. She had a big smile. Darkness came; I got the feeling that our unresolved library conversation was about to continue. "Why me?", I thought.

Then the room became quite, as the teacher came in.

Chapter 04 - The Angel Next Door

We landed in Naha, the most crowed city in Okinawa and its capital. The airport was bustling that day. People were everywhere and moving fast. The sounds of a strange language filled the air. I understood parts, but not clearly. My Japanese language skills worked at home, but failed miserably here. I was more than happy when we found a taxi and left.

As we made our way to the base, we stopped by a bento shop to pick up lunch. It's been a while since I’ve seen a bento, let alone eat one. "U-ma-i", I thought. It smelled delicious and I couldn't wait to eat it. But first we had to make our way to Kadena and check into the temporary living quarters on the base.

We got into the two bedroom apartment a few minutes past noon. My parents told us that my dad needed to complete more paper work and decided that it was best for us to rest. "Be sure to eat lunch and get some sleep", said mother in Japanese as they left.

Immediately we jumped at the food. Being new to the combination of bentos and microwaves, my brother and I soon discovered that aluminum based bento boxes and microwaves don't mix. As I sat there contemplating the fate of my burnt bento, I caught a glimpse of the most amazing sight I had ever seen. It was an angel, or so I thought. She was about my height, perhaps slightly taller. She had a homely look with a wardrobe to match. But somehow I knew she was the one who could launch a thousand ships. With deep brown hair and brown eyes, her warm skin gleamed with perfection in its natural color. Make-up was not necessary for her, as it could only obscure her natural radiance. Walking out of view with her parents following, I lost track of time.

Thawk! "Ouch", I yelled as a pair of chopsticks glanced off my skull.

"What the heck are you staring at?" asked Tony.

"You know it's not polite to stare at girls in front of their parents. Plus did you see the father’s collar? He's an officer. Give it up already, it's not going to happen, plus she's way out of your league."

"Now if you're not going to each your lunch, I guess I'll just pick out the good stuff.” he said with a smile.

Using masterful kung-fu techniques stolen from a very poor Carradine performance, I managed to block his assault. I might have lost some pride, but at least I salvaged my lunch.


On the second day we scanned the channels looking for something to watch. Still feeling a bit jet lagged we decided to take it easy. While drinking A&W and eating Shakey's pizza, we ran out of ice.

"We have no ice and it's your turn" said Tony.

Feeling no real compulsion to move but realizing that getting punished by my brother would waste too much energy, I decided to get up and get the ice. I left the room and went in search of the ice machine. First I went down the left corridor and then the right. No ice machine to be found. Strange I thought, so I decided to head back to the room to ask my brother. As I turned I saw her. She must have stood only a few feet away, but it might as well been an inch in front of me. Shocked, I froze. I stood in Florence, I felt like David. "At least I was clothed", I thought to myself. Time froze as her voice echoed past my diurnal universe.

"Hi" she said.

Not knowing how to respond and doing my best to succeed at looking like a complete idiot, I blurted "ah".

After what seemed like an eternity, I awakened after getting a strange look from her, somehow I managed to mumble "Ice machine".

What the heck was that? Did I lose the ability to speak? Reduced to an idiot, I raised the ice bucket like a caveman looking for fire.

She smiled and said, "Are you looking for the ice machine?"

Completely neanderthal-ed at this point, the best I could do was nod.

She said "Down the stairs, it's on the floor below."

Somehow I managed to net the butterflies and speak.

"Thanks", I said.

She grinned and then proceeded to walk to her room.

As I walked to the ice machine I wondered just what the heck just happened. I have gone dates and have spoken to beautiful girls before, but I've never been dumb-founded quite like that. But then again, I've never met anyone like her. Feeling guilty about acting like a moron and not finding out her name, I decided to vent my energies on the ice below.

As I was returning to the room, I saw my brother speaking with someone on the catwalk. As I walked up to him I saw HER talking to my brother. Consumed by insecurity; I felt my body freeze once again. My mind raced as it tried to regain control of my senses. Vision check, legs check, smell check, taste check, hearing... Well somehow that wasn't working.

As I stood there dumbfounded I managed to hear a few mumblings, "My name is…and I'm going to Kadena High School as well".

Suddenly, her parents opened the door and called for her.

She said "bye...I'll see you around" and left.

As her aura disappeared, sanity returned to my senses.

"What is her name?” I asked.

"Alison, she's going to Kadena High School like us, but she's a 10th grader like me", said Tony.

Without hesitation, he took my bucket and proceeded into the room.

Standing perplexed and feeling envious of my brother’s ability initiate idle conversation with any girl, I followed him.

He spent the rest of the afternoon teasing me about my statuesque performance and giving Alison an unforgettable first impression of what people would classify as a toadstool. Toadstool boy I thought, could I look more stupid? At least by the end of the evening, I convinced myself that tomorrow I would re-introduce myself as a functioning human.

As fate would have it, that chance never came as Alison and her family moved out the next day. Looking back, I wish I had the ease around women that my brother had. I was only a freshman at the point and definitely lacking the skills to have meaningful conversations with any girl.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Chapter 03 - The Rock

The air was stagnant and the stale smell of recalculated air was pervasive. The chair began to hum rhythmically as the wind sang her lullaby at my reflection. As the world came into view, I squinted a bit as the sun that was bursting it's warmth upon me. Outside the window, the clouds shuttled by, high above the vastness of the deep blue endlessness below.

The Pacific Ocean in her majesty seemed to go on forever as did the questions that roamed in my head of what life would be like at my new home. My father was a military man and he recently received orders to transfer to Kadena Air Force Base. I had spent the past three years in Southern California, so coming to the Far East was a big change for me. Okinawa was my destination. It's an island located in the Ryuukyus more than 1000 miles south of Japan. However, for an ordinary American teenager it might as well be on Mars. I knew that moving from base to base every few years was part of the military culture, but living out the remainder of my high school years on it felt like a living nightmare. And to top it off, when you looked at it on a globe, Okinawa looked like a small rock floating on the western hip of the Pacific Ocean.

The pilot echoed "We are thirty minutes from touchdown and the weather is sunny and clear. Please get ready to land."

Sitting to my left was the guardian of my youth. His hair was black and his eyes were brown. He was easily 5 inches taller than me; brawnier and more masculine. A year older and definitely more reassured about moving. He was my lifelong companion, friend, and sports icon, my brother Tony.

He said, "Mike, I wonder what has changed?"

"Got me, the last time we were here I was only 6 years old. I just hope we can find a few good TV shows to watch." I replied in a half awake slur.

As my consciousness awoke, I could hear the reassuring voices of the Thompson Twins in distance. I realized my head phones had fallen off and that my walkman sat on my lap; forever growing quieter as each moment passed.

As I switched it off, I said, "Tony what do you want to do when we start school?"

My brother replied, "Make friends, plays some baseball, and meet a girl...but first let's see if we can find something to eat before we land."

My mother who sat across the aisle with my dad suddenly demonstrated her innate talent to read her son's minds. Within seconds, some a-ka-shi, rice crackers, magically appeared in her hand.

"Hi-mu-ji de-su-ka?" she said. We nodded and eagerly awaited the coming gifts.

As I looked out the window again, I could see the outline of the tiny green rock that would be our home of the next several years.

Little did I know at the time that this rock was really the crown jewel of my teenage memories.

Chapter 02 - Two Birds with One Stone

“da-Da-da-Da Da-da-Da-da” was the name of the siren song that was sung by the school bell. The hypnotic rhythm was magical as well; it would instantly rejuvenate all who heard it. School was over for the day and floods of eager students began to burst out of the classrooms. Even the teachers were not immune to its beckoning. Within moments, they too vanished into thin air.

Once brimming with life, the room was mostly empty now. I slowly rose from my desk and stretched my arms. It was the end of another long day, but now it was over. I was tired and my brain felt fried. I was done thinking for the day and I told myself that I needed a good nap. What a great idea, now I just needed to get home. And fastest way home was to bum a ride; I began wonder what my friends were doing.

I glanced out the window to my left. It could feel the warmth outside, the sun was radiant and the world was filled with green. A few student walked by the window, out of reach, liberated from the concrete box that held me. It was March and spring was starting to bloom. Nature was starting new life-cycles; new plants and animals were coming into the world. I noticed a butterfly emerging from its cocoon. I thought about the analogy to our quest and smirked. I collected my books and notepad, and headed for the door.

"Mike, is this your pencil?" said a shy voice.

I turned and saw a frail figure. A life sized silhouette of the pencil she held in front of me. Her hair was brown and so were her eyes. Though sitting in the cool shadows of her pale complexion, her eyes gave me warmth. Her clothes were mundane and her aura felt untraceable, but her smile always appealed to me.

"Oh yeah, thanks Marielle", I replied. "It must have rolled off my notepad when I got up. By the way, did you understand what we covered in humanities today?"

I hope she did, because I was too bored to take any notes. All I did in class was draw spaceships in my notebook.

"Yes", she replied. "We covered Renaissance art and the style used by the masters to bring life out of nothingness."

Marielle continued explaining in more detail, but my mind began to run. Life out of nothingness, hmm that sounded familiar. I could feel the short hairs on the back of my neck starting to rise. Oh shit, I need to meet up with Renno, Ricardo, and Chad right now! I quickly moved towards the door and replied, "Great, you can explain it to me before the next quiz. I've got to get going. Talk to you later."

"Let me know if you need help..." said Marielle as I bolted out the door.

The cafeteria was large and cavernous, but it was bustling. A mass of cliques dotted the landscape, railway stops in a sparse land with only stragglers connecting between them. Crowded around the tables were the fleeting civilizations of many. A million voices seem to fill the air. "Did you see that...I can't believe it...what are we going to do?"

Only partial conversation entered my ear as I made my way across the land.

I was exhausted and a bit disenchanted, but at last I saw it; my Camelot. The table wasn't round, but two of the knights were in good order. Both were preparing to battle a fearful enemy that they could only see.

As I arrived, Ricardo said, "Learn from the master."

"-bater", I coughed as I hid my schoolboy humor with a slight smirk. Surprisingly no one made a comeback. Everyone seemed a little too serious.

"I know who I'm going to ask." spoke Ricardo confidently. "And her name is Lisa."

"Is she a skinny blond and a junior?" inquired Chad.

"Yeah that's the one. She’s in one of my classes and she's my type. She's a cute, intelligent, and I've got the hots for her." replied Ricardo.

Ricardo pointed across the cafeteria and said, "Her locker is that way, I'll be right back."

That is all he said, as he as he began his quest. He strode with confidence. He knew where the grail was; he only needed to grasp it.

"Wow that was fast." I said. "I don't even know where to start. Did you think of someone already?"

"Yes." replied Chad.

Was I the only one not serious about this? I knew our bet might be life changing, but I didn’t take it that seriously. But now I felt like the odd man out. Trying not to look too dumbfounded, I decided interrogating Chad was the best diversion.

"What's her name?" I asked.

"Anna. But I need to find out if she still has a boyfriend. Have you seen Johnny?"

"Not yet. What's Johnny got to do with this? He's not even in the bet." I inquired.

"Johnny knows about a lot of girls in my grade. If anyone would know about her availability, he would be the one." said Chad.

Really, I thought? He doesn't even have a girlfriend and I never thought he had one before. Though I've hung out with Johnny, I really didn't know much about him. Maybe he would be a valuable resource. Oh well I thought, he was Chad's best friend so I'm sure we can depend on him.

"So what about you?" asked Chad? "Do you have someone in mind?"

"No one in particular, but I have a list." I replied. "I can't seem to settle on one person. I think it's all about the odds. Getting shot down by someone I really like or getting shot down by someone that is too cool for us. Those are my options."

"Don't you have someone that you really like?" asked Chad.

I gulped. Yes, I said to myself. She was the first girl that I saw when I came to the island.

Chad knew the answer, but he waited for me to say it.

"Yeah but she's in your class. The odds that she would date me are slim to none." I replied with a show of dismay.

"Then you have nothing to lose" replied Chad, "and a lot to gain if it works out for you. Plus she is a really nice person and we did take a class with her last year. You spoke with her every day. Just go ask her."

Easy for you to say, I thought. Boy he sounded confident. His bravado made escape from nerd-dom seem easy? On second thought, he wasn't a true nerd like me, especially is the eyes of everyone, Chad was a starter for the Bucs basketball team. Damn, it's not looking good for me.

With a sudden change of tone, he inquired, "How about someone in your grade?"

"Well there one person that I was thinking, her name is Britney. She's beautiful, popular, and hangs around an elite crowd. I'm sure that is a NO waiting to happen, but it would be worth it just to find out." I replied.

Suddenly a smiling face appeared in my mind. I never thought about her this way before, but somehow the idea made me smile. Without thinking about it, I began speaking out loud.

"Well make that two. The other, is your friend Darius's sister."

"What" responded Chad with a surprised look?

"Yeah I know she's very plain and mostly unnoticeable. But she's nice and for some reason something tells me it would be fun to get to know her better. I don't know why, maybe because she’s always helping me out."

"Are you serious?" asked Chad.

Then Ricardo was back and he was smiling.

"I did it." he said.

I was shocked. He actually did it. Wow! I couldn't believe it. It seemed too easy to get a date.

"Is she going out with you?" We asked.

"No" replied Ricardo with a shrug. "She said that I was nice, but she's not ready to go out with anyone. And that was it."

He just got rejected in front of his friends and our Samson still looked proud. Ricardo still had a big smile; I guess he can do anything if he puts his mind to it.

"Are you sure she didn't just blow you off? Who would want to date you?" I questioned sarcastically.

"Stop being a dork Mike. I'm over it now." replied Ricardo still showing signs of confidence.

"At least I tried. How about you?"

"It's not my turn; Renno is next. By the way where is he? I haven't seen him yet." I said.

"Right over there, talking to Lisa." replied Chad.

Three stunned faces turned and looked at the hallway across the cafeteria. Sure enough, there was Renno speaking with Lisa. It can't be, I thought. He doesn't have that kind of courage. He must be asking her for homework; however his dance seemed to indicate otherwise. Renno always used hand gestures when talking about something important to him. Somewhere between the tango and the two-step he managed to smile. They must have talked for a few minutes. I got the feeling his arms were getting tired. Then it ended and he started his journey back to Avalon.

Upon his return Ricardo inquired, "So who are you going to ask?"

"I just did." replied Renno.

"Did you just ask out Lisa?" responded Ricardo; a sense of envy began to fill the air.

"Yep, but she said no" said Renno. "I tried to find out why, so I kept on asking her questions."

Renno looked dismayed.

"In the end, she said no because I'm not a Mormon. Can you believe that, maybe I should change faiths.” said Renno jokingly. But he didn't look like the jovial fellow I always knew. His pride shows signs of a crack.

Ricardo let out a slow long breath; a little more relaxed now, he looked relieved. Chad was speechless, but the lights were on and I started to wonder what he was up to.

And I, well....

I couldn't stop laughing; two friends, crashing and burning from the same girl within a few minutes. Now that was classic. It's hard to make this stuff up and it was happening right before my very eyes. No matter what I did to control myself, I couldn't stop the flooding. The dam was broken. Driven by my own fears of rejection or perhaps in order to suppress them, I continued to laugh.

Chad grinned, but didn't laugh.

"Mike you're a real dork." said Ricardo with a look of parental disapproval.

"Grow up, kiddy." said Renno. "I don't think you'll do any better. You probably can't even speak to a girl, so you might as well pay up."

With that Renno started to look lively again. Putting down underclassman always seemed to bring out the Frenchmen. Was this his Waterloo?

"What? Me pay? I don't think so. I've gone out with a few girls before and I’m sure that more than you two jokers combined." I replied in full arrogance.

"You're so full of it. You've never gone out with a girl before. Nerds like you don't go out on dates and face it, you're still a kid." said Renno with conviction.

Now I was getting irritated, especially since I wasn't lying. I had gone out on a date in 8th grade, but I'm not sure if I could call that a real date. Especially since my friends followed us to the movie theater. I walked her home afterwards, but in the end, nothing happened. Just out of curiosity I got to second with another girl. But somehow, those experiences didn't seem to stack up against what was happening here.

"I’m not lying, just go ask my brother. I know more about dates than you." I replied with an air of defiance.

Though I know it was only slightly true, my pride wouldn't have it otherwise; based loosely on fact my ego would defend my honor.

"Can you guys cut it out? We all agreed to do this, two to go right? Let's just think about that." interjected Chad.

"Right" said Ricardo. "Hey it's your turn now Chad. So why don't you just do it right now?"

"Hey hey, there's no rush. I've still got a week from today. I think this is enough action for today, let's get out of here," replied Chad.

So we all started to walk out of the cafeteria.

"Psst Chad" I whispered. "Don't tell them about any girls on my list. Otherwise they'll sabotage me. Thanks."

I could see the devious laughter in his eyes. But he nodded in agreement as we left though the gateway to our freedom.

The rest of our gang was waiting for us outside, Arman, my brother, and Joe among others.

"What the hell took you guys so long?" said Joe.

We told him and he couldn't stop laughing and making fun of us for the rest of the day.

All of these guys looked like the same group of people that I met on the first day of school, but somehow after today they all looked a little different.

I didn't realize how tough of a day it must have been for Renno and Ricardo until many years later. And that the courage they showed me that day would never fade away from my memory. Thanks guys for helping us all grow. The seedling just saw the sun for the first time on Okinawa.

Chapter 01 - The Worst Way to Spend $20

"What did you say?" I said. Still stunned from the question, I couldn't believe my ears. Was Renno kidding?

"I'm in.", replied Ricardo. "It's my senior year and I need to do this. I've got to do this at least once."

Ricardo looked stern, filled with conviction. He was usually comical and not very serious about anything. This time he was serious. It was his senior year and I guess it was important to him.

"Well if you guys are in, so am I." said Chad. He was cheerful about it still smiling and ready for the next challenge. He's a gamer, he's always been like that. A risk taker and good honest guy as well. We're always joking around with each other, but this time, things were different. I could feel it, the urgency.

Then they all looked at me; all three sets of eyes bearing down. There was nowhere to run, I felt the compulsion to swallow something, but my throat was dry. I was running out of air.

"So kiddie, are you in or do you have no balls?" said Renno.

That was Renno for you; idiotic, stoic, and always looking down on me. He always got me to answer with my sense of pride and not my brain. His condescension never made any sense to me since we were taking the same science and math classes. Perhaps he was annoyed because he was a year ahead of me. Or maybe that's just what made him Renno.

Filled with a rush of anger and pride I quickly responded. "Of course I'm in."

To what I just agreed to do, I have no idea. Classes just ended, it was the end of the day, and I was tired. I just caught up with the group sitting at the cafeteria table. I was still thinking about what a girl said in my last class. That's what I get for drifting, too many thoughts; too many hormones. The only thing I heard was, "...let's make it interesting, 20 bucks will do." Now what were they talking about? Something about girls...

"OK it's a deal. Otherwise you need to cough up $20", said Renno. "So who's first?"

For a moment, we all sat their quietly; no one willing to fess up. Whispers of conversations 1000 feet away could be heard clearly.

Then I realized something. There was an opening. Renno flawed. It was too easy to get back at him. So I did just that.

"Why don't you go first, unless you're a chicken?" I said. "All talk and no play makes Jack a dull boy." I said with an air of flamboyance.

He smirked. But I could tell he was incensed. He looked at me straight in the face and said, "Fine, after I start it, you can go next."

"No way" replied Ricardo. "It's my senior year and I'm going to go first!"

"Fine." replied Renno. "But the next person has to do it within a week. If you don't, you are out $20."

"Thanks for volunteering", I said. "OK, so it's Ricardo, Renno, and then who..."

My voice quickly rescinded, oh crap. I just left myself wide open. I guess I'm third, I thought.

"Then I'm next." said Chad with a smile. I think he had a plan because he didn't show any fear. He grabbed my shoulder firmly and said, "Mike is the youngest so we need to show him how it's done."

They all nodded in agreement.

Thank god. I think Chad could read my mind, no wonder we were good friends. Whew. That should buy me a few weeks, for what, I have no idea. Gambling two months allowance on something I don't know much about is stupid, but my pride wouldn't let it go. If these jokers could do it, so could I.

Renno and Ricardo stood up in unison, as if marching to the same beat.

"Let's start scouting", said Ricardo.

With a look of determination Renno replied, “Let's do it."

With dedication to duty that I have never seen before, Sir Galahad and Percival went looking for the grail.

For a moment or two we sat there quietly, my pride slowly drained away and common sense beard fruit once more.

"Mike, so who are you going to ask out?" said Chad. He was smiling, but somehow I didn’t feel like laughing.

Whaaaat? What did he say? What the hell did I just get myself into? I turned to Chad and asked. "What did we just agree to do?"

Joyfully laughing, he said. "What, you really don’t know? Mike, some days you really are a kid. We all agreed to stop acting like nerds and to start dating girls. Weren't you paying attention?”

Oh shit! What just happened? I think I just agreed to make a fool out of myself and even worse, to do it in front of a girl.

Completely shocked, I managed to squeak out a remorseful "Why?”

"Look at your brother and Joe. They have girlfriends and we don't." replied Chad.

"We’re all friends and basically the same kind of guy. We hang out together, listen to the same music, play Dungeons and Dragons, as well as football, baseball, and basketball together. But somehow, those two managed to find girls. They’re no different than the rest of us, so why can't we?"

I shook my head in disbelief. With the Rosetta stone in hand I began to translate reality to Chad.

"My brother might seem shy, but he's been good with girls since elementary school. You probably wouldn't believe me if I told you the truth about him. And well, Joe is Joe. He has always been good with people, especially with the girls. I think he has that animal magnetism thing going for him. Plus, he comes off as a rebel and I think girls like that."

"That maybe true, but they are like us. Just a lot less nerdy in public." replied Chad. "That's why Renno and Ricardo want to make the change. I think it will be good change for all of us. Now back to my question. Who do you have in mind?"

"I have a few girls in mind, but I'm still shocked right now. Let's talk about it tomorrow. For now, let's go to the arcade, I like that new Spy-Hunter game they added."

"Sounds good, let's go." replied Chad.

As we left the cafeteria I asked, "By the way, who are you going to ask?"

"Well there is this girl I like, but I think she might have a boyfriend. But I heard she might have broken up with him. If that's the case..." replied Chad.

"Name?" I interjected.

"Well her name is..."

I didn't hear the rest of the name. I was too busy in my own thoughts. I wasn't sure about having girlfriend, being a boyfriend, or joining the dating scene; especially since I never thought about it until now. I was in 10th grade, but I wasn't really interested in dating anyone in particular. Sure there were girls that I liked, we all liked girls. But I was sure that no one wanted to date me. I was an average student, with average looks, and shorter than most. I felt quite ordinary. No clubs, no school sports, no involvement; and to top it off, I had a bunch of geeks and troublemakers for friends. So this challenge seemed like an embarrassment waiting to happen. It wasn't all bad however; after we all failed, I wouldn't be the only one who looked like an idiot. That felt reassuring.

That night, it took a while to fall asleep. I kept on thinking about the bet and who I would ask. The obvious candidates were my crushes and the popular ones. I could ask a popular girl that I was guaranteed to fail with; it would be humiliating, but at least I would come out looking good with my friends. I could ask my crushes. But that could turn into a real nightmare personally, if I got rejected. However, there was one other group that I almost forgot about. The average girls, the ones who didn't stand out, but somehow peeked my interest. The ones that no one notices until you're wide awake at 3 a.m. thinking about who would be fun to go out with. The ones that make you smile and laugh. The ones that make you feel comfortable anywhere. Hmmm I thought, tomorrows going to be an interesting day.

At that point in life, I didn't realize that this very challenge would be the epiphany that shaped the remaining years of my high school life. It was hard to admit it at the time, but this was important for all of us. The wallflowers were trying to bloom.



The names, places, and the chronology of events have been changed to protect the innocent. Keep in mind this is a work of fiction since good stories are best left to the imagination. Sometimes a little mystery is better that the truth. These stories are inspired by events from my high school life. If you went to Kadena High School in the 80's, you might recall rumors about similar exploits. However if any of the events seem too real, it's just pure coincidence.


I write these stories for the people who had affected my teenage life and to thank them for the memories. The encounters may have been good or bad for me at the time, but in hindsight each episode became a very memorable experience; the culmination of which, helped to make me the man I am today.

This is also a tale about an average group of friends who's knack for fun and survival during those awkward days happen to make a good story. When I joke around with my friends about our days at Kadena High School, we always tend to laugh. There are always those moments that we all remember, that made me wonder if others outside of my close circle of friends would like to hear it. Well if you'd like to read about those tall tales, then these are the stories for you.

Looking back, it's easy to realize that it's really not about how popular you are or who you were seen with at the time. It's about those precious moments of time that you never forget, that gave you inspiration, that made you sad, that made you angry, that made you smile, that made you stronger, and that helped you define who you really are. It's also about the life long friends that you make on the way.

For me, my "right of passage" occurred on a small rock floating on the western hip of the Pacific Ocean.

I am Okiboy Mike and this is my story.


Special thanks to all the Okiboys: Anthony, Chad, Arman, AnthonyM, Tom, Rick, Chris, Joe, Jimmy, Brian, Halex, Greg, Albert, Ed, Bob, Dave, and Don. Thanks to the girls: Becky, Heather, Tina, Chantelle, Jennifer, Beth, HeatherH, Michelle, Maria, Debbie, Kristi, Ronni, Amy, Tish, Tami, Carolyn and Robin. I'd also like to thank all the other unmentioned people in the story whose names I can't remember.

Special thanks to my parents for their love and for letting me hang out with the gang, my kids for being a strong motivating factor, and to my wife for putting up with a guy who talks big, but never finishes anything. Let's hope I can finish this one.

Friday, July 27, 2007

How to use this blog

Unlike a typical blog, this blog is designed to be a book. So if you just started reading this blog, please use the chapter index on the right side of the page to navigate the stories. Since it's online you can use the search box in the upper right corner of the page to look for a particular event or the name of a person. Also the homepage (http://theokiboys.blogspot.com) of the site refers to the latest chapter.

As you read through the stories you may notice that the timeline of events jumps between my sophomore and freshman year at KHS. It may feel a bit confusing, but there's a reason for it. The main storyline is about the events that occurred during my sophomore year, but when I think about that time many decades ago I recall flashes of events that happened the year before, when I first came to Okinawa. Thus the intertwining. You'll understand what I mean if you sit back and think about similar events that affected you many many years ago.

There are over 20 chapters in the book and I plan to add a chapter every few weeks. But since I'm just a hobbyist, please don't expect me to keep up all of the time.

Enjoy the ride down memory lane,


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Please do not plagiarize blog posts and story material from this website.