Endangered Specieswatch: The Humpbacked Obachan

I am too respectful to post a pic, but believe me, I have surreptitiously photographed several. Yes, Concerned Reader, it is true: The Humpbacked Obachan is on the verge of becoming an endangered species. On my island, at least. And seeing how Awajishima is basically a giant, floating retirement community for aoriika longliners and graying mobsters alike, I am an eminent expert on, for lack of a better term, old people.
The subject in question, humpticulous spinstrisis, or, “Humpy” for short, is, simply, an ancient, stooped-over (sometimes more than 90 degrees!) lady (some of who sport humps on their backs – duh!). And I say “lady” in the female sense of the word, because some of them, quite frankly, are not nice people at all:
My first encounter with a Humpy was at the giant ishibutai tomb in Asuka Mura, where I first lived in Japan, at my second cousin’s church (long story). I thought this old woman was stooped over looking for dropped coins or something, so I went over to help her. After a few minutes, an ancient croak emitted from her direction, “just what in the hell are you doing?” I suddenly realized my mistake and was greatly embarassed, but intrigued by this person who was spending her declining years staring down at the dirt, and decided to do more research.
My research method was simple: Go to where old people gather, and observe. This explains my numerous visits to gateball tournaments, Nodoka-mura, and inner-city public housing complexes on “big trash” day. Some of my findings over the years:
– As can be inferred from the above, almost all humpies are female.
– Humpies are generally highly regarded in Japanese society, although this just might be the age factor. In Japan, as elsewhere, age = respect.
– I suspect advanced Humptosity is at least partially caused by osteoporosis, although it wouldn’t surprise me to see similar posture in, say, game company employees.
– In speaking with several Humpies, I found out that the condition itself does not cause a lot of pain, but it’s hard not to be able to sleep on your back (They all tend to sleep in chairs or propped up on cusions.).
– Humpies hibernate in winter.
– More humpies are spotted taking out the trash than in any other situation.
In the course of four years of observation of the Humpy colony on my island, I have been able to distinguish 1,796 (!) individuals (population has since declined to a current approximated level of 1,450). Most have been unresponsive to my questions, and several brooms have been raised in defensive positions. A radio tagging effort has been unsuccessful. Still, my research continues, because the fact of the matter is that Humpy population should be growing, not rapidly declining as they are now. Also, Humpies don’t really have a voice in the blogosphere for some reason.

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