Thursday, March 23, 2006

He~y, Peeps! Misawa and the Hospitality House

I was awarded these Peeps for being on the winning side in a parlour game at Hospitality House in Misawa . . . and nobody else on my team wanted to share the prize. My wife Yuko was on the other team, so the Peeps were ours either way. They were our destiny. We had never heard of Peeps before so when we got back to Kazamaura Sister #4 looked them up on the internet. Apparently Peeps were born into this world the same year that my father was, and in the same year that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne. If you want to become an official Peep fan you can “show your Peep pride” by signing up here. I didn’t.

First, I tore a Peep asunder while the other terrified Peeps looked on, hoping to uncover the secrets of the Peeps’ physical characteristics. My first conclusion was that Peeps are weak. My second and third conclusions were that they are white and sticky.

I then put a second Peep to the edge of the sword and discovered that in substance Peeps are homogenous and infinitely malleable, like the T-1000 in Terminator 2 only less intimidating.

One trial remained to draw out the secrets of the Peeps: trial by fire. This trial quite destroyed the third Peep, but it reminded me that the full name of the Peeps is Marshmallow Peeps. No doubt a proper application of fire would open the way to the successful smorification of Peeps.

This new knowledge awakened in me the memory of a fourth trial: trial by hot chocolate.

We’re down four Peeps but I think the other six are safe in their pink sugar cocoons (well, except the one that Sister #4 got her hands on). I’m sick of them already.

Hospitality House is a Christian mission/club for servicemen in the U.S. military. Prior to this past weekend, the last time I visited the Misawa Hospitality House was when I was about ten and my father had been invited as a guest speaker. At the time, I had only tasted root beer once in my life, but I had craved it ever since. Like stick deodorant, root beer is unobtainable through ordinary Japanese retail outlets. So when “Mr. T” at the Hospitality House told me that there was root beer in the fridge and to “help myself,” I was deeply hopeful. Unfortunately, I was unfamiliar with the term “help yourself.” It sounded like another meaningless cultural phrase like “what’s up.” I waited and waited, but no one offered me any root beer. The younger kids were watching Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure so I joined them for a while . . . to my long term psychological detriment. Some of those little turkeys had cans of root beer and other drinks but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how they got their hands on them. (I should mention here that, in theory, the fridge was off limits to minors in my family and, while I was quite comfortable transgressing against that taboo in my own home, I would never have thought of doing so at someone else’s.) So I finally asked my dad about it as we were driving back to Ajigasawa and I have to admit that when I realized that I could have just walked up to the fridge and taken root beer at will I spent most of the four hour trip crying.

I hope to spend the rest of my life in Japan where there are no Peeps, where nobody knows who Pee-Wee Herman is, and where people don't say “help yourself.” And when I do go to North America, it will mostly be for the deodorant.