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.
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.
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.