Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Life with My Japanese Wife

Some funny and some sad things:

As my wife's parents aged they had to be placed in a retirement/care hospital. My mother-in-law was physically well, but suffered from Alzheimer's. My father-in-law, residing in the same hospital, was mentally as sharp as ever, but was physically unable to walk. My mother-in-law would be taken to visit him. She would ask who he was and be told he is your husband. She would state very clearly that he was not her husband because she did not like old men.

My youngest brother-in-law asked his mother if she recognized him. She said no and he explained he was her son. She shook her head and said, "you came out of me?" Naturally, I had to ask if she knew who I was. She said she did because I was strange, in fact, "you have always been strange." Ouch.

During The Marriage Some Funny Things:

1. My wife bought frozen orange juice for the first time. I told her it was pretty good and, also, economical. She served me a glass of frozen thick orange juice the next morning. She stated, it sure isn't very economical to her. I asked her if she diluted it first? You know the answer.

2. We bought meat for swiss steak. My wife thought it was a regular type streak. When I came home from work she served me a martini, which she had learned to make superbly. Next, we sat at the dinner table and she served the swiss steak. She had only fried it on each side and not cooked it for hours, as was necessary. Needless to say, we ate very late that night.

3. Rice. Now all Japanese woman know how to cook gohan, right? Wrong, one more time. Remember, there were no electric rice cookers at the time. Luckily, I had been in my in-laws kitchen one night while my mother-in-law was making the rice. My wife knew you had to wash the rice, but that was all. I watched my mother-in-law make the rice and asked her questions. So when the first time my wife was going to make rice, I had to show her. What a great gaijin husband. (The good part of all this was we would read a cooking book someone gave us for our wedding gift and I would explain to her what the cook book said. From this she became a skilled cook and today, even though she does not enjoy making meals like she did before, she is a fantastic cook.)

4. My wife thought she needed to make some money. This was before we were married. She had asked her father if it was OK. What a good daughter. He said absolutely not. No daughter of his was going to work. She snuck out and got a job in a coffee shop (kissaten). There were twice as many small coffee shops at that time than now. Every 4-5 shops were coffee shops. Who should walk into this coffee shop while she was serving? Boy, all of you are so smart. Her father ripped off the apron from around her waist and hustled her off to home.

5. My wife calls me at the Air Base around dinner time, crying. You have to come and meet me. So I get on the train and two hours later I meet her at a coffee shop. I sat down and she, crying her little heart out, states, "I lied to you." Oh, oh, she is already married? Nope, her parents had changed the age on the documentation when she was born, for some reason, and she was not 23 she was 24. She told me, "I guess you don't want to marry me now." Two hours back on the train and into bed.

6. Another frantic phone call. You have to come to Tokyo as soon as possible. Wham. What this time? By train I commuted for 2 hours. I walked to another coffee shop. OK, what happened? Someone had stolen money from her purse. It was her tuition money for the English School she was attending. She had been going to college, but felt that an English School would be better for her. Her father was mad because she had left her purse wide open with the cash showing and had slung it over her shoulder. You know who paid her tuition? You are all becoming brighter and brighter. 2 hours on the train back.

I have had a good life, but as I may have already stated, I wish I could do some things over. I would have stayed in Japan longer after getting discharged from the military. I know I would have made it financially, somehow. I should have understood my wife better; I should have been a better person. Now I have medical problems, but I hope I am still alive and well enough to return to Tokyo. I want to stay 3 weeks next time, with some travel to Kyoto, etc.