“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
When I was a kid, my Hawaiian grandfather used to take me octopus fishing. After we cleaned our catch, my grandfather would always force me to eat a piece of octopus. Being a good suburban boy, I retched at the thought of eating a slice of slimy steamed octopus tentacle with the suckers hanging off. Having watched my grandfather routinely rip the back off living crabs and suck the meat out while the crab’s legs clawed at the empty air had already given me reason to distrust my grandfather’s palate.
Years later, a group of sorority girls chided me for not knowing the names of all the different kinds of sushi at a posh Santa Barbara Japanese restaurant. Looking back, I realize that me not knowing the contents of a Dragon Roll was the equivalent of a Mexican American not knowing what a Taco Bell Enchirito was. Sushi for me had always been the futomaki rolls and aburage inari zushi that my Japanese grandmother made on Thanksgiving and New Years.
Being the insecure nerd I was, I felt the need to regain the respect of these sorority girls who had memorized all the Japanese names for tuna, eel, monkfish liver, and salmon eggs, so I ordered tako. For those of you who didn’t fall for the sushi trend, tako is octopus. With the look of someone who loved the rubbery caress of octopus tentacles on the back of their throat, I devoured both pieces of sushi to a chorus of sorority girls squealing with delight. It should be noted that this was the only time in my entire college career that I ever made a sorority girl squeal with any sort of delight.
My Hawaiian grandfather would have been on the floor laughing.
I can still hear his voice, “Eh, Makala, you one smart fella–I mean, fart smella.”
This was my grandfather’s way of saying, “Don’t get cocky, because everyone poos.”
I guess the lesson to be learned is that sometimes the most foreign things can be found in our own backyards and the most provincial things can consist of something extremely foreign. It all depends on how open your mind is.
God, I miss my Grandpa Wood.
Have you every felt foreign in your own family? What can we learn from these experiences?
Thank you for reading, sharing, and/or smiling–my first Weekly Photo Challenge.