Octopus' Garden

Thursday, January 24, 2008

CONVERSATIONS WITH MY JAPANESE MOTHER: BIRTHDAY EDITION

Birthday Phone Call:

JM: We don't get schedule yet. Why don't you send schedule? Now too late and we have no idea where supposed to go for conference. We been waiting, waiting, waiting, but no schedule.

AH: I put a schedule in the mail for you on Monday. You really should have received it by now.

JM: But we don't get. So don't count.

AH: That's strange. You should have.

JM: You say you sent. But we don't get. Who the liar? Now too late. Why you do such lousy job organize conference? You don't even make schedule yet?

AH: Of course the conference is scheduled. It's just that everyone else has e-mail access, so I distributed electronically, and I've been really busy, so I forgot to send you a hard copy until Monday.

JM: Always such big lie excuse you have to make for yourself. So you send schedule to everyone else except your own parents. Why you treat complete stranger better than your own parents?

AH: All you had to do was ask, and I would have gladly told you anything you wanted to know about the schedule and sent you one.

JM: We shouldn't have to ask. We paying customer. Customer always right.

AH: Do you wanted to be treated like customers, or like family?

JM: You treat so poorly. Stranger get better treatment.

AH: I'm sorry you feel that way.

JM: I not accept that kind of insincere, side-of-face apology. You should think about what you did! We old!

AH: You're not even going to wish me a happy birthday, are you?

JM: Shame on you! (Hangs up phone.)


At the Super 8:

JM: I so worry about motel because usually we stay at other one, but you wait such last minute to make reservation for us so we have to stay this one instead. This one cheaper. I hate pay so much money stay motel. This one have ice box, too! (She gestures to the dorm fridge in the motel room like a game show hostess, and opens it up to show me.)

AH: I'm glad you like it.

JM: Next time we stay here.

AH: Good.

JM: Hey. You want piece of cold chicken? I can keep all nice cold chicken in ice box.

AH: No thanks.

JM: Your father, I bet, want cold chicken when he come back inside. Who know what he doing outside such long time with car! (She puts a piece of cold chicken on what appears to be a plastic plate ensconced in about a gazillion layers of tinfoil.) You sure you don't want?

AH: I'm sure. I had soup and salad at the coffee shop during the poetry slam.

JM: Wah! You have to spend money? (Conspiratorially). Hey! I show you something. When done eating cold chicken you just wrap up in top layer of tinfoil and throw away and then you can use same plate again next time eat cold chicken. Isn't smart?

AH: Very smart.

JM: And guess what plate is! Can you guess?

AH: No.

JM: You can't guess, can you?

AH: No. What is it?

JM: I show you! (She lifts up the gazillion layers of tinfoil to reveal a plastic frisbee. My parents, it seems, have apparently been eating cold chicken from tinfoil-covered frisbees.) Guess what?

AH: What?

JM: I got it for free! They giving away frisbee for free at Washington Park this summer! I don't play frisbee. But I take it anyway and now make such nice plate.

AH: Wow. I don't even know what to say. That's great!
posted by Artichoke Heart at 12:59 AM

8 Comments:

Did the second conversation occur after the first? Because all I can think is that the Frisbee chicken was a belated apology/birthday present.

Happy(?) Birthday from me, anyway.
Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:53 AM  
Happy birthday! Aren't mothers fun? :-)
Blogger Ivy, at 10:02 AM  
She's clearly trying to economize in an effort to save up for a good birthday present (when you turn 80).

Happy, happy birthday, Artichoke Heart!
Blogger Shelley T, at 10:30 AM  
I remember cold chicken and frisbees from my youth, when my parents took us camping (or, more accurately, trailoring). One was carried in a Yogi-style pic-a-nic basssket, and the the other was tossed at the back of my head by my younger brother. Age has made it difficult to remember which was which.
Blogger Steve, at 2:22 PM  
It is impossible not to laugh out loud when you write about JM. Impossible.
Blogger Lu, at 6:35 PM  
Love the JM posts! You are a woman of infinite patience. Happy birthday m'dear!
Blogger MJ, at 10:37 AM  
Second conversation was definitely somewhat of an apologia for the first, yes. And in the interest of full disclosure, I should confess that both convos occurred way back in October. But thank you, everyone, for the very nice b-day wishes nonetheless!
Blogger Artichoke Heart, at 8:14 PM  
seriously, if our moms were in the same room together, i think my head would explode from the similarity!! ;)
Blogger cornshake, at 9:56 AM  

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