About 35 years ago a Japanese kid named Suihiro rented a room from me and,
completely lost in this country, with nobody else to turn to, he looked to me for guidance.
After I’d convinced him that there might be people better suited to the task of showing
him how to conduct his life here in the US, I found myself trying to impress upon him the
idea that there were probably thousands of finer examples, and doing anything but what
I would do might be a good idea, in most instances. Consequently, whenever he turned
to me for advice I’d say, “To each his own.”
I’ve never really been aware of the stuff that comes out of my mouth—some people are
startled to discover I claim any awareness of the stuff I write—so, it surprises me
whenever someone tells me, “You ALWAYS say that!” To me, these things that I’m told I
always say, always sound like something I would never say, and never will.
One day, when Suihiro asked me about what he should do, concerning who knows what,
I shrugged and said, “I can’t tell you what to do, Suihiro,” and I must have added, “To
each his own,”
He responded, “He is very wise isn’t he?”
I said, “Uh…who?”
“Of who you always quote.”
“I always quote?”
“You give me your kind advice and quote Mr. Cha-zone.”
I had no idea what the kid was talking about.
“Tooey Chazone,” he said with emphasis.
“Tooey Chazone. You tell me to do what is best for me, and quote Tooey Chazone.”
I chewed on Tooey Chazone for a long time before I realized what Suihiro was talking
about. “NO. No no no-no no, I’m not quoting Tooey Chazone. I’m telling you To each his
own. It’s a phrase, an idiom.. a something… an admonition. To each his own.”
“Oh,” he said, and after struggling with it for a bit he said brightly, “It is like eating crow?”
“To eat cha-zone; is it like to eat crow?”
I was as lost as I thought he might be. (Eating crow? Tooey Chazone?)
“To Eat,” he said carefully and made a gesture toward his mouth with one hand,
“chazone. It is the same as to eat crow…”
“Suihiro, I honestly do not…”
After struggling with it for a bit, I realized something. I realized that I had to stop using the
phrase, To each his own. From that moment on I’d simply say, “Do whatever the hell you
want, Suihiro. This is America; do whatever the hell you want.”
After he left, I sat alone in the kitchen, facing a big plate, piled high with chazone.
HERE'S TO TOOEY