Thursday, December 16, 2010

Meet the parents

Or should I say, parents meet the parents. We are looking to squeeze in one more event of the season for 2010, because frankly a shotgun wedding just wasn't enough this year. I feel like I should begin by offering a disclaimer that I am not (really) withholding information from you, nor am I about to announce that I am getting married or, forbid, pregnant. There will be no talk of babies gracing these digital pages (not that there's anything wrong with that) or gratuitous shots of small doughy beings with disarmingly pleasant smelling scalps. Was that too much? Maybe I should have used "heads" instead of "scalps," which veers into the field of vocabulary employed by psychopaths in my mind.

Mama and Papa Geisha are coming to town, despite the song saying it will be Santa, and what would a visit to Tokyo be without an awkward cultural encounter with their daughter's pseudo in-laws? I am throwing them into the deep end. Let me also preface this by saying that I will be translating the whole damn thing, despite briefly considering asking my only cool Japanese girlfriend (OCJG) to come along and help, offering her a free meal and a front row seat at what is bound to be a fun cultural shit storm. I plan to start sculling wine as soon as we sit down and when I get so drunk I start babbling at my own parents in Japanese, I will simply tell everyone to talk amongst themselves and go out into the cold December air for a cigarette.

Talk of this dinner has been happening for over six months now and is about to reach fever pitch. Dotting this timeline, we have changes in attendees, discussions of attire and gifts and, perhaps most importantly (aside from my own personal meltdowns), who is going to pay for it all. I've been running so hot and cold as to think I am pre-menopausal when it comes to who will grace our fair dinner table. We had initially said the parental sets and maybe Baby Daddy and then of course during the summer, the beau had to go and invite Baby Mama (and Baby Mama's baby), which, despite all odds pointing to her obvious attendance, I cannot seem to rationalize or think about without getting riled up. I know that she is more family than I am at this point, but while everyone is telling me the baby will be a welcome distraction, I can't help but see it as a distraction from me. As in a distraction from me and my party.

Have I mentioned I know I'm crazy? I am pretty much resigned to the situation and haven't thought about asking Baby Daddy to just bring the baby for at least ten days now. It's all about the small steps. I have however, come up with a new reason I don't want Baby Mama there: who is she to share in my special family time? I can only guess at what will actually be said during this upcoming dinner, but I don't think BM deserves to be privy to it. Cue a few sentences where I tell you just how much I realize this is petty, unfounded and completely wack. BD is a doll for the most part but this Japanese girl I hardly know attending my dinner has caused me to exhibit some embarrassing behaviours in front of the beau. Luckily, he already knew I was a queen. I promise to try and be a good drunk and not let something snarky slip out about not being in a pregnant rush to get married.

The beau's mom called us a few weeks ago and started grilling him on what to wear and what kind of dinner, specifically, we were hosting. We tried to impress upon her that it was a casual affair and that I didn't want them bringing any extravagant gifts for my parents. Apparently the protocol changes depending on whether we are calling this an Official Engagement Party or a lower cased introduce-the-parents-party. The words and greetings exchanged also change according to category and despite explaining that my parents wouldn't know what the hell was being said to them in any case, the beau's mom insisted that we define it for her.

Talk about international negotiations. We have the beau trying to placate his mom while I am trying to discern whether she will listen to him on the omiyage front at the same time running interference with my parents. It's really the gesture that counts, so I have given instructions to bring a small assortment of delicacies from Vancity, which will be appropriate whether the beau's parents bring something or not. I also had to explain to my mom that there isn't a set "exchanging of the gift" time or ceremony where it all goes down simultaneously with flash-bulbs going off, so there is no need to plan on bringing an incognito bag to hide the gift in case it isn't reciprocated and we-don't-want-to-embarrass-them-or-make-a-huge-cultural-gaff. I'm tired, are you?

The one issue I thought we had agreed on came to a grinding halt during one of our nightly conversations that take place when I am practically sleep talking and the beau has returned from work. We really need to put a stop to these 3am conversations. When we initially talked about who would pay, I suggested that everyone just put money in, unless this would offend the beau's parents for some reason. I can't have my parents pay for dinner and drinks for 8-10 people and I wouldn't necessarily expect the beau's parents to pay either. The beau said either his papa would pay or we would ask everyone to give us money. Fast forward to 3:12 a.m. and when I confirm this agreement, the beau says he/we will pay for it. There were a whole lot of noyouwonts thrown around and then just for good measure, I started in with that I wouldn't have approved BD and BM coming if I had known we were going to pay for everyone. Illegitimate sister-in-law-hood problems aside, that's just fucking stupid. Let's go to a beach in Thailand instead stupid. I don't want the beau paying because ultimately, that means I will be paying too. Lord knows what is going to happen when we get the check but I'm hoping everyone quite literally starts throwing money at us.

Everything else, my controlling personality will have to leave to fate, or the other people sitting at the dinner table. There has been some talk of me receiving (his) mama's engagement ring, which we have never seen, and having it put into a new setting. It's kind of crushing to think how good the beau's parents have been to me and how it potentially could have turned out so horribly different. I'm hoping if she does bring it, there will be none of it at the table because wouldn't it just be my luck to be told to try it on and struggling to just get it on my pinky like a foolish motherfucker (while chanting in my head "just get it on whitie, you are a strong, powerful woman"). As a wise friend once said, old diamonds tend to be small diamonds, and I would also like to be spared the throat pain of getting all high and whiny in effusive praise for something that may put me off second-hand gifts. Either way gentle readers, it promises to be a smashing evening with the potential for disaster!


kathrynoh said...

OMG I can't wait. And seriously, if you are going to the type of place where deciding who pays is an issue (which I assume means $$$), is it really appropriate to take a baby?

Apryl in Wonderland said...

Ack! MUST BD and BM be invited? After all, it is YOUR parents coming to see you...and as a convenience, "hey, meet my man's parents!"

Then, I know little of the way these things work here. I am far from needing to introduce parents to each other.

BiggerInJapan said...

deja vu, deja vu... Been there done that. Can't wait to hear YOUR version.

Lisa said...

It sounds like it would be easier if this WAS an engagement party!

Sarahf said...

I agree with Apryl, why should BM and BM come? And with a baby in tow?! Bonkers. Can't wait to hear how it goes. And isn't BM pissed that you get the family engagement ring?

karisuma gyaru said...

omg, what a pain! good luck with the whole thing!

oh and btw, i totally don't think you are being petty by not wanting baby mama there. heck, even the brother really shouldn't be there either, no? it's your folks meeting your bf's... i would be pretty annoyed too if i was the one in this situation... have fun!!

Rob said...


I feel a bit anxious for you, here typing this.
Isn't there an easier way to facilitate this? You can't sneak them weed brownies and go ice skating or something pragmatic along those lines?

Just sayin'.

Corinne said...

Ooooo weed brownies are an awesome idea!
Perhaps some sedatives in BM's oolong-cha?? I almost typed 'and baby's bottle too' but deleted it, I am supposed to be have the maternal instincts going onafter all...

Although I'm sure it will go well, I'm guessing money will be thrown around from all sides at you and having BM, BD and little dekichatta-chan there will only make you look good.

Just hope your FIl doesn't try to hit on your mum like mine did!

wakanai said...

Me too, can't wait for the follow up

By the way, does BM have a blog?
I would like to read her side of the story too :)

Anonymous said...

You definitely need to define what this meeting is. I only met bf's family when it was confirmed that we were definitely getting married. But the meeting of both sets of parents definitely sounds like a "yuino" type thing - in which case, BD and BM shouldn't be needed. You could argue that family numbers need to be equal on both sides! And don't worry about a tiny diamond, should you get one - I just traded it in for a better, bigger one when I got MIL's ring remodelled - they still think the clever jeweler managed to make it look bigger by putting it in a new setting.

Rose said...

Baby Daddy and Baby Mama AND Baby?

Er, 'scuse my French, but fuck that noise.

Not only was their shotgun wedding basically an excuse to extort loads of cash from the family, they'll probably divorce in a few years anyway. Besides, I think it's quite obvious that your Beau's parents prefer you - future-MIL's ring might not be your ideal choice, but giving such an important thing has real meaning. I'd take that as a major hint that even the Beau's parents don't want BD or BM there. (When I first met my Japanese bf's parents, his mom gave me a set of pearls and several very expensive scarves. It was her way of showing her approval, even though we're not even engaged yet.)

It's your party, and it's your family making a very long, expensive trip. Don't let the weird Japanese "customs" get you worked into knots. Put your foot down, be proud of yourself for not getting accidentally knocked up, and plan things the way you want them planned. Disinvite the BD/BM/B. Parasites.

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Rob said...

This blog is about teaching?

Rydangel said...

i don't even know what to say.Do they have a buffet restaurant where everyone pays for their food first and then helps themselves to the buffet. like a shoneys,ponderosa or golden corral only japanese style? each person/couple could pay for their own meal. i would treat it as a casual informal meeting. my parents are coming for the holidays, join us for dinner. no sibilings or neice/nephews. just us and the folks.although bm is family and you might as well start learning to get along with her. she was probably embarrassed about you a gajin, being witness to her shotgun marriage. although bd and bm must really love each other otherwise they could have got an abortion on the downlow and avoided the whole situation especially considering bd's lolicon fixation. if it were a formal meeting to discuss the wedding plans it might be different. is your apartment big enough to invite them for dinner? you could just cook a simple meal like spaghetti or something. use the lack of room to disinvite bd,bm and b.although leaving any jealous feelings aside over the bd and bm getting married first and your having to chip in on the wedding, is it the protocol to have the whole family turn out for these first meetings? you don't want his folks thinking you are being mean and spiteful because you are getting married last. and do you have to get married in japan? you should have a big old canadian jewish wedding. let his family travel there and see how you canadians do thngs.anyway i can't wait to hear how it all turns out. good luck with it all. i learned my lesson the hard way about bringing the boyfriend home. my mom didn't like him and invited the ex over for x-mas dinner. he showed up with a gift for me and a big grin. now i had to explain it to the new man, why the ex was there too. thanks mom. now i don't bring guys home anymore and i definitly don't want to meet their parents

Generic Jen B said...

Merry Christmas Geisha-san!

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

Wow I had no idea so many of you would feel so strongly about this!

kathrynoh: We got a semi-private section of the restaurant so the baby isn't really a problem...but yes, deciding on the cheque felt like a mine-field when I wrote this.

Apryl: That's how I felt initially and it's gone back and forth forever. Given that this opportunity wouldn't come up again soon, I did kind of want my parents to meet BD, who I really like.

BiggerInJapan: I would love to hear other people's stories!!!

Lisa: It started to feel that way, which seems like such a contradiction seeing as "casual" is supposed to be just that!

Sarahf: I have no idea what has been said on that side. She really doesn't seem conniving, so I don't know that she would feel either way...I don't even know if *I* want an engagement ring!

karisuma gyaru: It would be much easier if this wasn't the only chance to introduce people, then it wouldn't feel so "bring the whole village"...

Rob: Best suggestion yet! Then we could all go for ramen when the munchies hit...

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

Corinne: HA! I love your maternal instincts. Luckily the beau's dad is totally not the pimping type - I really don't know how you handled yourself so well in that situation!

wakanai: Not that I know of :) I, too, would be very interested to see this from the other side.

Anon: That is a clever way around it! The defining thing is such a bitch, it just adds another layer to worry about! Now that it's over I certainly have more insight into the whole thing.

Rose: Thanks for the vote of confidence, I was getting myself waaay too worked up. I am grateful for the beau's parents affections and am trying to just let the rest go.

Rob: My thoughts exactly...I don't know how this blog would serve to help anyone, except my own narcissism of course.

Rydangel: Thanks for the moderate response, it gave me a lot to think about - especially like the big old Canadian Jewish wedding idea! Dancing might totally freak them out. Feelings of irritation aside, I don't think it is protocol to invite extra people, but because of the whole international situation, it seemed like a good idea to put everyone together...frankly a small intimate gathering probably would have accomplished more.

Jen B: I have been so MIA! Hope you and yours had a lovely weekend.

Anonymous said...

Do you practice your jewish relegion in Japan? I never seen a synagogue here. How do Japanese view Jewish people? Ive heard some racist things from them about this.

Apryl in Wonderland said...

I can give Anon some answers regarding the "Jewish in Japan" sitch...The Jewish population in Japan is pretty small and rather hidden, but here in Tokyo, there is one synagogue and there are two small Jewish community centers. Apparently Kobe and Osaka also have synagogues.

As for discrimination, and this is from my experience, most people in Japan don't have enough information about ANY non-Asian religion (such as Christianity, Judaism, Muslim) to actually even venture a regular, much less, racist opinion.

As for the few Japanese Christians I have met, their understanding of Christianity is so "cute" that as a Jew, I am treated like I am the closest thing they have seen next to their personal savior ('cause ya know, Jesus was a Jew!) I have been purchased dinners, beers, and asked to regal with tales of Judaism, 'cause they want to know about the customs and holidays that Jesus would have experienced growing up.

Apparently there is a tiny tiny group of Anti-Semitic folk in Japan, and they do publish books upon occasion. Humorously, their books are considered "tondemo bon" and can be found in the bookstore alongside books on UFOs, ESP, past-life regression, and other topics considered "sketchy."

Apryl in Wonderland said...

ps: Regarding meeting the parents: I am going to Beijing China in March to meet my friend-boys parents.

(My lovely friend-boy is Chinese, but moved to Tokyo 12 years ago, and became a Japanese citizen 2 years ago)

I have some deal of trepidation on this as I have read many an article that stated that the Chinese mother is one to fear!

Anonymous said...

Actually I have met or come across several Jews in Japan. Dave Specter, Peter Barakan are both Jews. Ive met some of the Presidents of MNCs here in Japan that are Jewish also.

Apryl in Wonderland said...

Oh, I'm not saying we/Jews are "in hiding"...but in a country with population of 128,000,00o people, only about 4300 people here are Jewish.

As for Presidents of MNCs and entertainment people - well, statistically speaking - there is a disproportionately large percentage of entertainers and CEOs worldwide that are Jewish (versus non-Jewish).

I could certainly give the historical and societal basis for this....except GEG probably doesn't want to have her blog subtitled: Jews - Who and What are They?

This is an interesting thread though. I will post something on my blog about it (the topic "Jews in Japan") within 7 days.

Anonymous said...

The background image on your blog makes me feel literally dizzy (I have a very wide monitor) can u change it?

Anonymous said...

Apryl in Wonderland,

I checked your blog but found no update on the Jewish topic. I know that many in the media and financial sector are Jewish. Larry King, Wolf Blitzer, that lady on The View, and many others I come across are Jewish.

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

Anon at 6:27 - sorry about that, if you read it in a reader that should help. I will see what I can do but due to skill and time limitations, can't promise anything right at this moment.

Anon and Apryl: Sorry to have missed this conversation. I don't have a lot of discussions with Japanese people about religion (or anyone for that matter). Anyway, Apryl thanks for responding and good luck in China!!!!