Okinawans have a saying, “Once we have talked, we are friends.” The saying itself is a nice sentiment, but is it a romanticized idea. In my many years of experience, I do not think I have seen a relationship between S.O.F.A. status personnel and locals that doesn’t include some form of monetary benefit. Whether it is the ever-smiling and “enthusiastic” local girls squeezing a few free drinks from hard-up and lonely G.I.s or the ongoing “friendship” that includes a favor entailing the use of a few base privileges. The local idea of friendship is primarily a business relationship masked as friendly banter between persons of two cultures. I honestly ask if you are a S.O.F.A. status person who does have a friendly relationship with a local that never included the use of any base facility or privilege, please let me know. I would love to hear your story.
One of my favorite times of the year is Okinawa in the middle of the night during summer. We are lucky enough to live on a hill with a decent view of the ocean from our balcony. In the middle of the night, at about 2 or 3 in the morning, there is usually a light breeze blowing away the heaviness of the humidity. A few cars are still rushing by the house, but not so many that the smell of gas fumes becomes obnoxious (which happens in the daytime). Every once in a while a fruit bat glides past a nearby tree. The lights from across the bay gleam and the stars in the sky twinkle. It is a very peaceful, but not dead quiet, time when a person can sit and let all of their thoughts just wander undisturbed. This is the time of year that Okinawan island life is at its best.
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