The Fitful Flog

February 23, 2008

Mate Kudasai

Camera Stellata 4 on Flickr

Camera Stellata 4 Crease Pattern

When I was in school, I had this roommate, Mark, who was from southern California and was studying International Education about as rigorously as it possible to study such a subject. He got a lot of phone calls.

This was back before we had modems and google and so on. You had to look stuff up in books. I was actually extremely good in research, in those days, but this one phrase had me stymied — mate kudasai. It’s the name of a song on Discipline, a King Crimson album — a cryptic album, even by crimsonian standards. I was pretty sure it was Japanese — I think someone says it in Bladerunner. But all the dictionaries at school were in charactery, kanji or hirigana, and I was getting nowhere with that.

One day, a woman rang up, said her name was Mariko and could she speak with Mark, please?

— Sure, I said, I’ll go get him. Say, do you speak Japanese?

— Yes, I do, said Mariko.

— Would you mind translating a phrase for me?

— Certainly, what is it?

Mate kudasai.

— Mate kudasai, she repeated. Wait a second, please.

So, I did. I figured maybe it was obscure and she had to look it up. After 30 seconds or so, she said, Can I speak to Mark, please?

— Sure, but what does it mean?

— What? Mate kudasai? Hang on a moment, please.

— Okay.

And I waited some more. After 30 more seconds, she asked to speak with Mark again.

— You don’t know what it means? I asked.

— Yes, I do. It means please wait.

Oh.

I apologized and went and got Mark. Five minutes later, Mark came to my door and asked what the hell it was I said to her? I explained. He nodded. He said, she thinks you’re some sort of absurdist poet.

Very astute observe, that.

Anyway, we’re slowly reconstructing this site from our last untimely crash and it may take a little while to dig up all the files we need. Not all of the links are going to work right away. We thank you for your patience.

Still, by the window pane —
Pain, like the rain that’s falling…
She waits in the air
Mate Kudasai —
She sleeps in a chair
in her sad America.

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7 Responses to “Mate Kudasai”

  1. 1
    Tom Hull Says:

    That’s a hilarious story.

    I love that album, BTW.

    In other news, it looks like I might be moving to Noho for the next academic year.

  2. 2
    oschene Says:

    Really? Will you be teaching out this way?

  3. 3
    Tom Hull Says:

    I’ll be teaching at Western New England College. The s-m is at Smith now, and this is a way to be closer.

  4. 4
    oschene Says:

    Most excellent, on both counts. My mom did her JD at WNEC.

    Do you and the snark lady know Joseph O’Rourke? I was reading through that Geometric Folding Algorithms book and was surprised to find that O’Rourke teaches at Smith. I used to go over to that building and fold with Bob Roos, ooh, a few years back now.

  5. 5
    Tom Hull Says:

    Joe O’Rourke is a buddy. Or, more like a really nice guy whom I’ve met a few times and who has always been really cool to me. Yarp.

  6. 6
    ?rmu?rs™ » Mate Kudasai Says:

    […] Šodien, klusoties King Crimson albumu Dispiline s?ku pr?tot, ko noz?m? dziesmas nosaukums Mate Kudasai. P?c skan?juma nopratu, ka tas ir Jap?niski, bet, lai noskaidrotu prec?z?k, ??ros pie Google. Jau pats pirmais rezult?ts bija saist?ts tieši ar King Crimson un satur?ja smiekl?gu atgad?jumu no k?da cilv?ka dz?ves, ko var izlas?t šeit […]

  7. 7
    Hull breach Says:

    I was finely amused by that story,
    got here by googling that phrase.
    Also curious art, that paper object.
    I somehow enjoy it too.

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