Out of deference to the god-fearing people of these islands, I often find myself having to suppress my irreligious streak simply to avoid confusion. I was not always so careful. I am, however, unapologetic about my former self. I was an asshole, but I knew it.
In 1993 0r '94, one of my first of many romantic attachments to a Filipina, by the name of Maribel,* noticed that an air freshener dangling from the rear-view mirror in my car had once been an image of Christ - before, that is, I had defaced it (I would have used the word improved) by applying horns and fangs. Maribel was deeply shocked and asked me if she could have it. Assuming she wished to get rid of it for me, I said yes. She put it away in her wallet.
A week or so later, when one of her days off coincided with one of mine, I picked her up outside her boarding house. On the way to my barracks, which on Okinawa was at the end of a peninsula that had only one road in and out, Maribel opened her wallet and held out to me an air freshener. It was Jesus again, and my first thought was that she had bought me a new one. But when I looked closer at it, she pointed out how she had used nail polish to match the colors of His face and had carefully painted over the fangs and horns and the 666 she reminded me I had written on His forehead.
He was good as new, though not much good any more as an air freshener. So I thanked her and, crestfallen, put Him in the glove compartment, since I somehow knew even then that I was completely unworthy of such a thoughtful gift. Or, for that matter, of such a thoughtful girl.
*A guy in the barracks told me there was something regal about her, which was obviously such a far-fetched word for him that it stuck in my memory.