Da Odda May Days


Story by Kathy Collins

Listen to this column read aloud in pidgin:

Kathy Collins as Tita

Small kid time, I used to t’ink May Day was da bes’ part of da month, ‘cause we would have Lei Day pageant an’ games at school. But now dat I stay grown-up, I get two diff’rent May days dass my fav’rites, ‘cause dass when I get fo’ celebrate my two fav’rite people: my maddah an’ my boy!

Ev’rybody know about Maddah’s Day, of course. Da hard part is fo’ figga out when da buggah comin’, ‘cause da date change ev’ry time. Dis year, Maddah’s Day is May 13, las’ year was May 8. I donno why da guys in charge nevah just pick one date, like da 10th or da 15th, an’ den leave ‘em li’dat. Musta been one maddah’s idea fo’ make ‘em da second Sunday in May, so we gotta pay attention ev’ry year. You know how maddahs always tellin’ kids fo’ “Pay attention, gunfunnit!”

Boys’ Day mo’ easy fo’ remembah–May 5. Dass da fif’ day of da fif’ month, ev’ry year same t’ing. Girls’ Day, too, on da t’ird day of da t’ird month, March 3. Organized an’ efficient. Dass ‘cause Boys’ Day an’ Girls’ Day come from Japan. Dose guys way mo’ organized an’ efficient dan us.

Da Boys’ Day tradition wen’ start ovah one t’ousand years ago, but we nevah know about ‘em ovah heah until only da las’ hundred years or so. Da Japanee immagrants wen’ bring ‘em wit’ dem when dey wen’ come fo’ work da sugar plantations. Jus’ like how dey wen’ teach us fo’ eat sushi an’ take off yo’ shoes befo’ you come inside da house.

Fo’ Boys’ Day, people who get sons put up giantsize windsocks shaped like koi on top da house. Dass ‘cause koi swim upstream like salmon; dey famous fo’ being strong an’ brave an’ determined. An’ dass da kine qualities we like our boys end up wit’. Plus, when you put one live koi on top da cutting board, da buggah no panic an’ flip-flop around like odda fish. He know he going ma-ke, he raddah meet his death wit’ dignity, like one samurai warrior.

Da odda big t’ing about Boys’ Day is da dolls. Yeah, dass right, dolls. We no mo’ da kine gender identity hang-ups ovah heah. We buy fancy-kine dolls fo’ our boys. No worry, we not talkin’ Barbie or Bratz or G.I. Joe, even. Boys’ Day dolls, mos’ time, is samurai in battle gear or on horseback, or Japanee folk heroes like Kintaro, da boy who wen’ wrestle bears. An’ they not fo’ play wit’, only fo’ show. Ev’ry year we get ‘em outta storage an’ put ‘em on display in da living room. An’ den we gotta explain to da boy, “Yeah, dass yo’ dolls . . . an’ no, you no can touch!”
Da funny t’ing is, now dat we get Boys’ Day ovah heah, no mo’ Boys’ Day in Japan. Way back in 1948, da Japanee government wen’ change Boys’ Day to Chirren’s Day and make ‘em one offisho holladay. Chirren’s Day is fo’ grownups to celebrate da happiness an’ yout’ful spirit of all chirren—boys an’ girls—an’ fo’ chirren to honor their maddahs an’ say mahalo. So nowadays, fo’ da Japanee, May 5 is kinda like Boys’ Day an’ Girls’ Day an’ Maddah’s Day all put togedda. See, I tol’ you dose buggahs was efficient.


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