Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Second Childhood: Chapter 1 (Pages 11-15)

(Continued from Pages 6-10)
Tanaka fumbled for a convincing response. “I’m in Colonie, New York, and I… uh, am visiting my relatives up here! Yeah, that’s what I’m doing!”
“Tanaka, based on how your name sounds, I’d think your relatives would be from Japan!”
“Well Chris, plenty of our family members immigrated to the United States. My family in Manhattan aren’t the only ones, you know!”
Chris asked interrogatively, “I see. Now, how’d you get my number? I don’t give it out to too many people.”
Tanaka attempted to delay explaining. “Umm, before I answer that, what does my entire number say on your caller ID?”
Chris sighed. “It shows 518-162-3359. Now, how’d you get my number?” Tanaka promptly typed that onto the first form field he could click on in his web browser. Then he looked for a pen and any notepad or scratch paper. Tanaka started writing the number down when an unpleasant surprise hit him.
“Man, my penmanship is shot!” Tanaka blurted out.
Chris inquired, “Heh, I beg your pardon? Anyway, you didn’t answer my question. How—
“I um…, well, it’s a long story. Hit me up at my email address: if you really wanna know. Have a good birthday. See ya!” Tanaka then promptly hung up.
After slowly and carefully writing down the rest of his home phone’s number, but still in a sloppy, kindergartner’s fashion, Tanaka proceeded to the Gmail account sign-up page. He entered TanakaToday as his new username, set the password and other information. Fortunately, he didn’t need to submit his birthdate.
After checking both his (Marc’s) Gmail and KSU Webmail accounts, Tanaka remembered that sooner or later, Chris may email Tanaka. That’s when he decided that he’ll spill all the beans to him. At the same time, Tanaka wouldn’t want to retype the story each time someone asked why he was so smart. That’s when a revelation came to him: Tanaka would start a blog and simply ask any inquirer to read his blog for the story.
“That ought to do it.” Tanaka muttered, before proceeding to the sign-up page. Fortunately, the sign-up form didn’t need his birth-year. As soon as he was through, Tanaka got to work on his first blog entry at He spent an hour and a half typing up the ordeal of the day and the previous night when Mom yelled from downstairs.
Tanaka looked at the system clock. It read 9:00 AM. He saved and submitted his first blog entry, and closed the browser window. He realized that he was downloading Firefox, and that it has now finished. Tanaka proceeded to install it onto Mom’s system.
Mom yelled again, “TANAKA, ARE YOU COMING?”
Tanaka replied, “YES, MOM. I’M ALMOST DONE!”
Mom responded, “WELL, HURRY UP.”
After finishing the install, Tanaka hurriedly closed all browser windows, sprinted out of the room, and slid down the banister. He hit a banister post at the bottom of the steps and clutched his ribs in agony. 
“Ouch. That was too fast!” Tanaka exclaimed. 
He dashed to the remaining empty seat at the dining room table. The whole family was there, with his little brother in his high-chair.
“Sorry about that, y’all. Is the food still warm?”
Satoru responded, “Yeah, good thing. Tanaka, you’re always the first to run to this table. A lot’s changed in you today!”
“Yeah, Sat-man, about that, well, I have an announcement to make. Dad, can I make an announcement?”
“Not yet, Tanaka-chan. We’re praying first.” Dad bowed his head, and everyone else did on cue. “Dear God, thank you for this new year and our very delicious breakfast that we’re about to receive. I pray that we will be more prosperous in 2005 than we were last year, and that more fortunes and less calamities happen to us in this new year.  I pray that our new daughter will be delivered safe, healthy and defect-free this May, and may you please protect us in these times. We praise your blessings to us and this food in the name of mighty Jesus we pray, Amen.”
Everyone started eating. Tanaka took a bite, and then spoke after swallowing. “Okay, everyone. As most of you have figured out by now, I’m not the Tanaka you used to know. My flu, or the overdose I got on that flu medicine must’ve been bad enough to damage my mind last night because frankly, I don’t know who any of you are. I only know your names from that group of photos above the mantle. My—“
Chihiro cut in. “So the flu made you stupider then, huh?”
Tanaka responded, “No, and you must be Kyung-hwa. It did quite the opposite in fact. Let me ex—“
Chihiro interrupted again. “I’m Chihiro. I don’t use Kyung-hwa no more ‘cause friends kept flubbing my name. You call me Chihiro all the time. You’re really weird today.”
Tanaka continued. “Now let me explain – my memories of the last five years are gone. I dreamed a college student’s life last night and the illness or overdose caused my dream memories to feel every bit like real memories, so I seriously feel like I have the memories of someone else’s past twenty years.” Tanaka had to make up that his transfer-incarnation was a dream because he knew that his new family members would buy a story of a dream more than one of a quasi-reincarnation.
“I’m curious,” Satoru queried. “What was your name in that dream?”
“My name was Marcus Michael Shuttles the Third. I lived in Manhattan, Kansas and went to K-State. My family lived in Chapman, about 30 minutes away.”
“Hey, K-State was our rival in our undergrad college. We were in Lawrence for our first four years!” Dad quipped.
“Well I’ll not say what I think of KU ‘cause you’ll probably just send me to my room.” Tanaka replied.
“I think you’re right, Tanaka-chan. But we were there for its Journalism sub-school. It didn’t exactly work out, but I got to use some of that to become a public relations official for General Electric! Now, what was your major in that dream?”
“It was mass communications. I wanted to be a commentator for, but I guess I’ll be someone better now – a child for the second time, then someone I really want to be – someone who redefines the online social scene. I guess that’ll take going to MIT, which is what I’ll be doing with my new level of genius. Say, how much math did you do in college, Dad?”
“Well Tanaka-chan, I got as far as College Algebra and applied to take Calculus, but when I found out that I didn’t need that for my major, that’s where I stopped.”
“Well, you can give me a FOIL problem and I can do it for you right now on the blackboard, Dad.”
“I’d love to see you do it sometime, but we’re going to finish eating first. Eat up, Tanaka-chan.”
                Tanaka hurried up his eating, alternating between using napkins and utensils, and neatly finished his plate. His cup of orange juice sat full and unused. “Now Mom, do I have boxers as one of my birthday presents? I only wear boxers, well, at least I did in my dream, so I’d like some REAL underwear. Not these embarrassing ones I have on now.” Chihiro giggled, and Satoru nearly choked while he cracked a “heh.”
                “Well, Tanaka-chan, I’ll not tell you what the presents are yet, but I’ll tell you that you have no boxers in the wrapping. I doubt there are any that fit your size.”
                “So Mom, how ‘bout I call Wal-Mart and ask them what’s the smallest they’ve got. I know they’re open on New Years.”
                “How do you—Oh, wait. It’s one of your imported memories from your dream, isn’t it?”
                “Just call them and check. I promise they are open today. And if they are, will you promise to get me some boxers? I REALLY would like to seem older than I am, and I had thought that the kind of underwear that I’m wearing right now is something that 5-year-olds are too old to wear. It’s embarrassing to even mention, much more to wear it!” Tanaka shook his head.
                Mom sighed. “Um, I guess, but only if they have them in your size.”
                Out of the corner of his eye, Tanaka noticed that Toshiaki’s mouth was caked with food remnants. “Ok, little bro, jeez, don’t make a mess of yourself. Learn how to use a napkin.” Tanaka got his napkin and wiped Toshiaki’s mouth off. Right before he finished, Toshiaki yelled “Stop it!” and threw a food fragment at Tanaka’s shoulder.
                Tanaka sternly told him, “I think I’ll learn to shape ya up, ya little brat. Throwing food at other kids makes you liable to get your… eh, um, mass kicked. They’ll kick you in the, yeah, tail, and your nuts. You’ll regret ever  throwing food at anyone.”
                Dad looked slightly miffed. “Tanaka, I’ll get you a shrink. I think what you’ve said about yourself IS true. The way you threatened Toshiaki-chan is nothing like I’ve heard you say before. I know he needs to mind his table manners but you’re being over the top. On the other hand, it’s a little better than you throwing food or even splashing a drink back at him. You escalated the mess with him many times, but today, you cleaned your breakfast off the plate so well and used your napkin like a good boy is supposed to. Your Mom & I prayed for a miracle to happen to you from this flu and well, this has gotta be it!”
                “I’ve had and heard too much. I don’t know Tanaka anymore either.” Chihiro said.
                “I told you so.” Satoru told Chihiro.
                As the family began finishing up, removing themselves and the plates from the table, Tanaka started drinking from his glass when Mom asked him, “Is there anything else you’d like for your birthday? I can do some last-minute shopping for you before our party starts at Noon.”
                “Of course, Mom. Get me some 2nd-grade-level workbooks ‘cause I’d like to have fun doing schoolwork again. And a laptop.”
                Mom gave him a confused scowl.
                Tanaka fumbled, but decided on the right response. “You know, that are appropriate for kids like myself. There are some low-cost laptops for kids, right, Mom?”
                “Yes, like those made by V-Tech and Leap Frog. Satoru and Chihiro has those kinds of electronic toys in their toy chests.” Mom responded.
                “Umm, sure! Why not? I’d like to enhance my already-enhanced brain, or at least have fun with them.” Tanaka hesitantly replied.
                “Okay, workbooks and a toy laptop. I’ll be back in an hour or so.”
                “Once I master those workbooks, will you give me higher-level ones?”
                “I’ll check through them all, and if you get an “A” on all of them, then yes I will.”
                “Okay, have fun shopping, Mom!”
                Mom got her keys and jingled them goodbye. “Bye Tanaka, love you, Kanoku, bye kids!” She headed for the garage.
                Tanaka approached Dad as he was pre-rinsing the dishes and passing them to Satoru loading them up in the dishwasher. “Now Dad, remember I told you I’d make you watch me do an algebra problem?”
                “Of course. The marker and board is right over there. Go on. Impress us.”
                Tanaka pulled up a stool and sat at the marker board. He wrote (2x2+4y)(5x2-6y) albeit in crude, kindergartner’s penmanship. “And here is how you solve this problem, Dad.”
                10x4+8x2y-24y2 is what Tanaka wrote and underlined on the whiteboard. Satoru batted his eyes.
                “Wow, Tanaka, good show!” Dad exclaimed. He went up to erase the whiteboard and draw his own problem, just for good measure.
                (8x2+9y+z3)(24x2+10y+9z3) Tanaka got to work. 
= 192x4+296x2y+96x2z3+90y2+91yz3+9z6 is what Tanaka figured out for his final solution. Satoru and Dad gave him a standing ovation.
                “We need to take a picture, Dad!” Satoru exclaimed.
                “I’ll find the camera. Come help me look for it.” Dad found his digital camera in two minutes. “Okay, Tanaka. Pose with the board and smile!” The shutter snapped, and Tanaka graciously smiled and posed to the board. “Now Tanaka, this camera has a video-rolling feature. I’ll write you another problem, and Satoru-kun here will roll footage. Satoru, I’ll press the Record button now. Don’t touch any button while it rolls.”
                “Okay, got it, otou-san.” Dad handed it to Satoru, then erased the board, and wrote the problem: (52x+21y)(23x+11y)
                “Here you go, Tanaka-chan. Show us what you’re made of.” Dad handed Tanaka the marker.
                As he got started, he mumbled, “52 of 20 is 1040. Now, three 52s: 104, 156. 1040 + 156 is 1196”. He wrote 1196x2. “Now 520 + 52. 572.” He wrote 572xy. “Hm, now 230 + 23. 253.” Then Tanaka drew a sloppy 253xy. “Now the last one. 210. 220, 230. 231.” Up came 231y2. “Now the final step: 572+253. 672, 772 + 50 is 822. Ah, 825xy.”

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Tanaka is good at Maths!

    Especially algebra.

    Loved the references to the Kansas universities.

    (And that there's a TanakaToday website).