The Nod

Tokyo | Summer, 1998 | 23 years old

I once went to this roundtable debate discussion thing. There was this black guy there, and he was talking about “the nod.” You know what I mean when I say “the nod,” don’t you? I’d never given the nod, nor had I been on the receiving end. You know, I’d certainly seen it before, but I’d never actually had the opportunity to participate.

I got the nod from a white guy today. It sort of took me by surprise and… but it felt kind of natural and… before even realizing it, I gave the nod back. Then I felt sort of confused. I couldn’t quite understand what was happening. It was a brand new feeling. I couldn’t quite grasp it with my mind. But it felt…

I got the nod from a black man today. My second nod today, repaid without restraint. Now this was certainly strange. I couldn’t quite grasp it with my mind. But this feeling’s no longer new, almost… like… comfort.

I got the nod from an Indian guy today. No hesitation. I replied with confidence. And it felt comforting… to nod.

And with that, it all became clear. He wasn’t white. And I wasn’t black. And he wasn’t white. And I wasn’t Indian. But we all… were not Japanese.