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Where's my culture shirt? - Ed Brock

The man had a uniform on and he told me to get in line with everybody else.

Get in line with everybody else, huh?

The line to which he referred stretched back over the top of a hill and around a curve. What's more, it was composed of cars, vanloads of sweaty humans who were between me and my goal, that being the Japan Fest at Stone Mountain.

Or is that my goal and me?

But the point is that was something that caused me some irritation. As an American, I'm trained to attack my goals, to push past all obstacles, to be aggressive.

I'm also a man, by the way, in case you didn't guess that by the beard.

So when I expressed that irritation, fleeting though it was, I quickly found myself in a culture-gender schism quandary. Sitting beside me, you see, was my Japanese wife.

Let me just pause at this point to laugh heartily at those of you who whine about how you can't understand your American wives.

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Oh, I just feel soooo sorry for poor little you!

Go marry a foreigner and then we'll talk.

Here, just let me explain how it worked.

First, like all of you in regular uni-cultural relationships, I must always live in the shadow of Daddy.

Oh, Daddy comes up from time to time, at least for some of you, I'm sure.

"You know, Daddy told me just the other day how when he was your age he already owned his own business and didn't have to grovel before The Boss to get a raise and more money to buy his wife's diamond tiara and pearl and gold shoes. Don't you think you should be doing something like that?"

Now, let's pretend Daddy is Japanese, possessed of that singular, Asian, Zen Buddhist patience of which you, poor Caucasian swine that you are, are incapable of achieving.

And then combine that with "That's just like the time you ?"

Yes, the ol' "Eternal Memory of What the Man Did Wrong in the Past" factor. You may be forgiven, but the deed is never, ever forgotten, right?

In this case the reference was to the wee morning hours of Jan. 1, 2000. We were in Tokyo, in a place called Odaiba, where about 2.5 zillion other humans, both Asian and other, had congregated to usher in the new millennium with fireworks and smooches. Following the celebration we walked about two to three miles (not an exaggeration) to the train station where another line awaited us.

This line, too, stretched back into infinity, although it was composed of people shelled of their vehicles.

Just as despair was taking hold, two Japanese men walking in front of us quickly cut into a gap in this ne'er ending queue. Inspired, I followed suit at the next gap, and for reasons I've yet to understand I had to drag my then girlfriend, now wife, in beside me.

SHE WANTED TO GO TO THE END OF THE LINE!

I mean, I know what I did was wrong. It was unfair, sure, but I like to think that a vast majority of the people behind us had much closer destinations somewhere in the city whereas it would take us an hour or two to get back to the small town where I lived.

And it was already 1:30 a.m. at that point! So I cheated once, what can I say?

Well, that little sin came back as further evidence that I have a lot of "personal work" to do.

Bear in mind, all that was expressed to me as I sought my proper place at the end of the line. Shame on me for being an American male.

But the point (thought I didn't have one, didn't you?) is that by the time we got to the parking lot this whole thing had completely blown over. It was just a minor crimp in the continuum of a loving and relatively stable relationship.

So you see, it is possible to bridge the gap between the sexes and the races without blowing each other up. Also, always go to your proper place in line.

Ed Brock covers public safety and municipalities for the News Daily. He may be reached at (770) 478-5753 ext. 254 or via e-mail at ebrock@news-daily.com.