THIS IS A YEAR OF THE HORSE CONTEST ENTRY
On the Day of the Birth
March entry, Year of the Horse contest. 894 words
of his son, Mr. Sakamoto gave thanks for it not being another girl. Two were enough, and the prospect of paying for two let alone three weddings was daunting.
Of course, he thought, with the dawn of the 21st century on the horizon, maybe the parents of the grooms would be willing to pay half the cost. Even better, even more progressively, perhaps the bride and groom would shoulder the cost themselves.
But a boy. There was reason to celebrate besides this. For instance, no longer would Mrs. Sakamoto mumble about her pregnancies. It was nine months of torture each time, and Mr. Sakamoto grew weary of hearing her grumblings. What did she expect if she too wanted “to try one more time” for a boy?
This made him suspicious. A mama’s boy. That’s what she really desired. She undoubtedly wanted a boy she could spoil rotten and mold to her own specifications. Mother’s were like that with their sons. This was what Mr. Sakamoto suspected.
Best of all, however, a boy would carry on the family name. Now it is common to say such things as, “It doesn’t matter if it’s a boy or a girl, I just pray that the child be healthy.” But Mr. Sakamoto knew that men want male children to carry on their names. That is true no matter what a man might say, and every male knew it.
So the birth of a boy was to be celebrated. Absolutely. This was Mr. Sakamoto’s great joy. Of course it would be foolish to announce this to the ladies of Team Sakamoto, but now there was someone with whom Dad could relate. Or someone who could relate to dad. Someone to shape the growing up of the way a man should grow up. Before the mother could exert too great a sway.
The boy grew well. There were no delayed responses to things such as crawling, standing, walking, the onset of speech – all systems were go, so to speak. This pleased Mr. Sakamoto to no end as he slowly acquired plastic bats and balls, tiny footballs, toy golf clubs and the like. In fact a good portion of the nursery room was given over to this burgeoning collection of sports equipment. Not to mention the sheets and baby shirts boasting the prowess of the University of Hawaii athletic department and teams – and professional teams as well – that Mr. Sakamoto supported.
Blissfully, as little Michael Sakamoto Jr. grew, he did in fact gravitate toward playing with all this accumulated equipment. This pleased Mr. Sakamoto to no end.
And then Mrs. Sakamoto stepped in. She wanted the boy to be more well-rounded, she said. Not just a little sports fanatic. This is what Mr. Sakamoto had feared.
Mrs. Sakamoto began playing classical music for the boy during his naps. Instead of reading him age appropriate story books, she began reading the boy Shakespeare, Chaucer – in Middle English, Austen, Dostoevsky, and Dickens. There was no great text she would not read to little Michael Junior.
“But surely you can’t expect him to understand what you’re reading to him.” Mr. Sakamoto said.
“No I don’t,” Mrs. Sakamoto replied. That was her complete answer. She left Mr. Sakamoto puzzled as she picked up a book of Henry Moore sculptures and began leafing through it and reading the captions with Michael Junior sitting in her lap.
Time went on, and Michael Junior began to show an aptitude for reading above his age level. This pleased Mrs. Sakamoto very much, and Mr. Sakamoto was, truth be told, proud to tell his friends and co-workers that his son was an avid reader of challenging books.
Still he longed to tell his friends and co-workers that his son was developing good bat speed or a solid putting style. But this was yet to happen.
You know how parents force their children to take music lessons? Well, Michael Junior came home from 2nd-grade one day and asked if he could take piano lessons. And that very afternoon Mrs. Sakamoto began calling around to various studios to see who might be the best possible piano teacher for her son.
Mr. Sakamoto was still at work when all of this transpired, so he knew not what fate awaited him when he arrived home. And his attempts to interest his son in taking up baseball or football were so far unsuccessful, so even more so would this surprise request possibly take him aback.
It was not really until Michael Junior’s first recital that it dawned on Mr. Sakamoto that his son might not be destined for the gridiron or the golf course. And by the time his son was in 9th-grade and playing piano and classical guitar, Mr. Sakamoto had come to appreciate his musical ability so much, that he would now brag to his friends and co-workers about it.
Michael Junior never did show a great inclination to play sports, although he did join the cross-country team in his Junior year of high school.
When Michael Junior was accepted to Julliard, there was a huge celebration in the Sakamoto home. Mr. Sakamoto knew the level of this accomplishment, and it was he who brought home the bottle of champagne.
At the airport there was a tearful scene. Mr. Sakamoto possibly cried more than anyone else. And these tears were tears of joy.