Hippie Squared: A True Love Story About a True Love


a blogumn by Jeff Rogers



Photo Credit: Xpectro
Photo Credit: Xpectro

Anyone in the mood for a love story to start out the week?

 When I was 23 I quit my job as a bookstore manager to drive a cab here in LA. I did it for the stories.


And there are great stories in that story that are not this story.


 This story barely even belongs to me, but I’ll give it to you anyway.


 I picked up a fare at LAX bound for downtown. A big smiling man and his wife, here in LA for the first time from the Midwest for a convention at the Bonaventure.


 He was a talker. I always liked the talkers.


 “Bet ya get to hear some good stories driving this cab,” he said.


 I could see him in the rearview mirror, leaning back against the backseat, his right arm along behind his wife’s shoulders, his legs straddled wide. I could picture him heading straight to the bar when he hit the hotel and having his bags sent up ahead to his room.


 “Once in awhile,” I said. There seemed to be almost a challenge in his voice; in the rearview mirror he wore a cocky grin.


 “How long’s it gonna take us to get downtown?” he asked.


 “Half hour. Hour. Depends on traffic. Where the accidents are.”


 “That ought to be just about perfect,” he said. I saw him turn to his wife, flash her a grin, squeeze her hand and turn back toward me. “Have I got a story for you.”


Seems he had an old friend who’d served under General Douglas MacArthur during the occupation of Tokyo at the end of World War II.


He fell in love with a young Japanese woman. This was not a wartime romp. It was serious. They moved very cautiously, and almost despite themselves they fell deeper and ever deeper in love. He asked her to marry him. She said yes. But first he had to get MacArthur’s permission.


MacArthur’s headquarters were in a partially bombed out temple, his office in a long room with ceilings that soared high above.


Ushered into MacArthur’s presence, our anxious lover took a step inside the high doors, stopped, saluted smartly and waited.


MacArthur stood all the way at the other end of the long room, behind a huge heavy wooden desk, turned away toward the window and looking down at the streets of Tokyo, his hands clasped behind his back.


Our friend could only hold his salute until MacArthur turned and put him “at ease.”


But the long minutes went by. Dust floated along the long beams of light that slanted down from the tall windows.


Finally MacArthur turned. He considered our friend for a long time. Our friend had worked close enough to MacArthur that MacArthur knew who he was, they had on occasions exchanged brief words of conversation, but no more.


“Why?” MacArthur’s voice boomed across the expanse, “would an officer in the United States army want to marry a Japanese girl?”


“Sir. We’re very much in love, sir. I didn’t plan on it. But she’s a wonderful girl, from good family. We have their blessing.


She speaks very good English. She’ll make a fine wife and mother.”


MacArthur gnawed at the stem of his pipe as the moments crawled by under barbed wire. At last he shook his head.


“Dismissed!” he said.


The officer had no choice. He had to break it off with the woman that he loved and that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.


After the war he landed in Washington, D.C. and entered the State department. He hobbled along on a broken heart but he never found another love like the one that he’d lost and he never married.


Some years passed. Not for the first time he attended a function at the Japanese embassy. He turned to take a drink off a tray and looked into the eyes of the woman holding it—and there she was.


She too had never married. She had recently arrived in the United States.


They immediately resumed their courtship and soon they were married.


“And they lived happily ever after,” my fare finished his tale just as I pulled up in front of the Bonaventure. In the rearview mirror he looked quite satisfied with himself.


“Now is that a great goddam story or what?” he said, and squeezed his wife’s hand again. Her eyes said that she’d heard the story many times. But she still enjoyed it. And she thought he’d told it well.


“Best one I’ve heard yet, driving this cab,” I said. He handed me the forty dollar fare and a twenty dollar tip.


“Have a great time at your convention,” I said.


“Oh don’t you worry,” he said, “I will.”


And I believed him. So did his wife, from the secret little smile she flashed him before she slid out the opposite door.