I am four years old with thirty cents (a promotion! See the previous episode vol. 5) in my hand, feeling a little older than the Homerun Bar time. I don’t have to be terrified of Grandma Fumi’s arrogance either, because I am just waiting for my turn to purchase my favorite bread. It is the Wednesday Little Bakery in my school, not a general store in her neighborhood. My friend, Hitomi, is standing before me in line. She comes to school with two long braids every single day without any exception. A nice straight line parts her hair equally. Her hair smells of grains of rice because her house is next to the rice grinder facility in town. Though my nose is tempted to get close to her head, it behaves itself. My nose already knows it’s not a pleasant scent anyway. It’s a unique and irresistible scent, however, my nose knows it will disappoint me if I actually inhale it in through my nostrils. I try to distract myself by holding my coins really tight, fighting against yet another temptation. Should I touch her hair? No, I have no intention of pulling her beautiful braids. I just want to feel a tiny amount of the short and soft baby hair at the bottom of her perfectly straight hairline. Hitomi’s mom, for some reason, cut some of her hair so that it was too short to be made into a braid. I keep thinking, “It looks so strange, but I wonder how it feels like.” Suddenly, “What are you staring at?” Miho says in a confronting behind me. Hitomi turns around. “Well, n-n-nothing,” I stutter. Both Hitomi and Miho stare at me. I smile apologetically even though I am not doing anything wrong. Can they read the thinking bubble above my head?
Right before my left hand is about to reach her neck, Hitomi swiftly leaves the line with her bread. The fantasy crime is officially out of my mind. My long awaited turn finally arrives. I am lighthearted and feeling lucky because Mighty Hard Bread (remember Donkey’s Bakery?) is not available. Chipping my teeth by eating bread sounds awful, especially at school. Donkey Sweet ‘n Soft bread is still my all-time favorite. But that is just a past luxury. I sadly and happily admit that a school-bakery-truck doesn’t deliver any kind of bread that the Donkey Bakery would carry. “A cream sandwich please,” I decisively say as I genuinely smile. Ms. Aoki smiles back to me, but sympathetically addresses, “I am sorry, we have no more cream sandwiches today. Wait until next Wednesday. How about a Typhoon Roll?” That’s why I love Ms. Aoki. Not only is she the prettiest and most thoughtful teacher in the whole galaxy, but she always knows how to solve my problem.
A Typhoon Roll, which looks like a real “eye of a typhoon”, could be an appropriate substitute and would ease my disappointment from the lack of cream sandwiches. Its long flat square bread is rolled with some white whipped cream between the swirled bread. On the top of bread, they spread a really thin chocolate icing. I reluctantly, but somewhat hopefully compromise to purchase a typhoon roll. While licking some white cream after unrolling my Typhoon Roll, I still dream about the yellow custard in a cream sandwich. It is almost as if both the white whipped cream (real) and the yellow custard cream (the imaginative ingredient from the cream sandwich that I dream of) are melted onto my tongue at once. My imagination fills up my mouth with more than what I actually eat. Miho asks me, “Isn’t it good?” “Yes, it is more than good.” Miho wonders why my over-victorious smile is on my face. Wednesdays are special days for Miho and me.
On some Wednesdays, Pre-Kindergarten students are told to go home without shopping at the little bakery. The dark condensation hovers over the sky through the windows in this morning. They are about to drip some rain drops. Sigh…. A rainy day equals rain boots, a simple reason for why I feel blue. If only I had a choice of rain boots or regular shoes. My stubborn and unreasonable parents are single minded in many areas, particularly in this. Technically, no flexibility has existed in my family before. The family is exclusively dictated by parents. If you sneeze, you have to take some icky tasting powder medicine and go straight to bed. On the contrary, they never allow us to have pain killer pills for headaches. Headache medicine contains bad chemicals, according to them. For stomachaches, suspicious black smelly herbal pills are the remedy. These fishy black pills are respected and therefore approved because they have grown in the Buddhist Temple where famous monks have trained. What an ordeal for a four year old child! Nobody ever comprehends my parents’ philosophy of the boots.
Accordingly, when moist air fills in the air, kids need to wear rain boots. I have to admit, though, that my rain boots are not the black ugly ones which my brother wears. But my silly looking rain boots humiliate me anyway when the sun comes back in the afternoon. My whole body gets crunched under the peer pressure. Someone will talk behind my back about how horrible I look like with my unreasonably stupid boots. Unlike my friends’ boots, there are no flowers, stripes, or polka dots. The cancerous point of my boots is that they are too tight on my feet. My mother is such a conservative shopper. According to her, she is the wisest consumer in the area, and never shops for new boots until they are ripped. Being tight is not in her criteria to shop for new boots. My school tennis shoes are a little tight, but at least they are red and have my favorite princesses on them. Just thinking about my boots makes me nauseous.