How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit?

The back story for “The Truth About Crickets”

P Beere Briggs copy

In the mid 1960’s, the translator/legal advisor for Mr. Matsushita (of Matsushita Electric Company, aka National or Panasonic) asked my father if he would be receptive to our family appearing in the international print ads for Matsushita. My father agreed. Thereafter, Matsushita photographers appeared on our doorstep on a regular basis, taking pictures that recorded a lifestyle: that of the expatriate family living overseas.

Moreover, the photos unwittingly documented my transformation, from the five-year-old who believed she must be part Japanese if she was born in Japan, to the nine-year-old who, because of the break-up of her parent’s marriage, would have to leave Japan and finally reconcile her cultural identity. I left Japan in April 1968, and arrived in Napa, California with my mother and younger siblings. No one could figure out my strange accent, a combination of Japanese and English. A tiny hint of the accent still lingers, occasionally leading a person to ask where I’m from (certainly not the U.S.).

Pamela at school in Japan

For decades, I put off any notion of traveling to the country where I had spent the first decade of my life. I was tentative to journey back in time, to the place of childhood memory and emotion.

Then I had a child. Re-living childhood, through the eyes of my daughter Natalie, began to reawaken memories and stories of my years in Japan. I enrolled in an evening Japanese language class. Then, in summer 2003, I purchased three travel guides. We made our first trip to Japan in March 2004. It was such a success that we found ourselves flying back a year later.

japanese train

What had taken me 36 years to do, I had done twice in one year.  Along the way, I re-discovered memories about the girl who appeared in the Matsushita advertisements. Memories turned into stories.

I am so honored to have my story, “The Truth About Crickets,” included in an scintillating new anthology with the provocative title — How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit: True Stories of Ex-Pat Women in Asia.

Reading the deeply personal essays and stories — set in Thailand, Japan, China, Malaysia, Mongolia, Taiwan, and Hong Kong — will transport you into the intimate, dramatic, hilarious, confusing and illuminating moments of expatriate life in Asia. Perfect to read with a cup of tea or a glass of wine, and perhaps a map of Asia, if you’re like Natalie and love maps 🙂

Edited by Shannon Young, an American writer living in Hong Kong, and published by Signal 8 Press based in Hong Kong. Books are available in paperback and e-book formats worldwide. For updates on writers and events, visit


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Anti-Spam Quiz: