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Remembering Okinawa

Thinking about Okinawa the other day. I was stationed there in the early 80s, on Kadena Air Force Base.

We lived off base for the first two plus years. Our apartment building was small, just outside one of the secondary gates, close to the shopping district. The building owner and his family lived on the first floor, in the front, and American service people and their families lived in the rest. There were three stories, in a design by Escher, sort of a concrete maze of hallways, nooks, apartments, and open stairwells.

All the Americans were young. That went hand in hand with the rank structure and who was authorized housing. Housing authorizations were predicated on your family size and rank, so being young, enlisted and childless, we were at the bottom and had to wait longer, living on the economy. We had great times in that building, though, sharing holidays and celebrating typhoons with parties. Our place was very small, perhaps 600 square feet, about the size of a business hotel standard suite. It was one of the bigger ones. 

Several of our neighbors were newly-weds. They did what newly-weds did, fornicate like rabbits, kissing and groping one another in public, especially once a little alcohol lubricated their moods. One couple were particularly loud, however, and the Escher design amplified the sound. My wife told me about it the first time she heard it. I was bemused. 

I didn't realize she was understating the volume.

I was a shift worker so I was home one afternoon. A woman started screaming. Startled, I raced into the hallway. I thought someone was being killed. As I hunted down the sound, I gathered no murder was underway, it was the noisy lovemaking my wife had mentioned. 

The noise triggered an unfortunate sequence. Some Japenese neighbors called the police. The police spoke to my landlord. My landlord sought my wife. In his limited, broken English, and her non-existent Japanese, they discussed the noise. He wanted reassurance that the woman wasn't being beaten or hurt. He owed it to the police. We were his tenants so he was responsible for us. He also, of course, worried about the woman. 

So my wife had to explain, ah, through English and gestures, what was actually going on. I laugh just remembering her telling me about that.