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Hidemi Woods 

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.518

I spent my teenage life at a privileged Catholic school. Most students came from wealthy families and some were famous. As a farmer’s daughter, I belonged to the few non-wealthy students. I thought a farming family was regarded as poor and unsophisticated in this school, and tried to hide the fact that I came from one as much as I could. Every time I submitted the paper on which the parents’ occupation should be stated, I put my thumb right on the word ‘Farming’ so that other students didn’t see it. There was a famous long-standing chain of high-end chestnut snack stores in the city which chain name was the same as my last name, and one day, a student casually said to me, “Your family owns the chain doesn’t it?” While the chain and I happened to share the same name, we actually had no relation. But she sounded so sure as if everyone believed so. It was three years since I had entered the school and my concealing operation might have worked. It was possible that no one besides my close friends knew I came from a farming family. I felt confident I looked cool and sophisticated enough for them to think I came from that wealthy family. Hoping their misunderstanding would last, I didn’t deny strongly and gave her an ambiguous reply. When I told my mother about it at home, she was very pleased and instructed me to keep them believing that way. I was walking toward the bus stop with my close friend after school one afternoon. When I cracked her up with my jokes and moves as usual, she said laughing, “You look like a peasant!” And the next moment, she gasped and added, “I’m sorry!” I wouldn’t have cared if she had kept laughing, but her serious apology offended me. She remembered I was a farmer’s daughter and thought her comment was inappropriate. I realized reference to a farming business required an apology, which meant she looked down on it. By the time I was a senior, I had grown weary of being a class clown just to be popular. I had tried everything to be cool but become doubtful if it was right to act someone else who wasn’t real me. For seniors, the teacher asked attendance to a table manners class at a gorgeous restaurant one by one. Since some students were busy preparing for the entrance examination of universities and colleges, they were allowed to opt out of the class. I was one of them and when my classmate behind me heard me answer “Not coming,” she started giggling. Then she said to me, “Even though your family is a farmer, you’d better learn table manners!” The girl next to her was also giggling and said, “That’s what we shouldn’t tell her!” It was a wake-up call. All those years every body had known my family was a farmer and laughed at me inside while I pretended to be cool. What I had been doing so hard for years was nothing. Since that day, I stopped acting a class clown and returned to my true quiet self. A couple of days later, in a class journal that all students would read, I wrote, ‘I’m a farmer’s daughter. Yet, I have been to a high-class restaurant and I do know table manners.”…

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