It would have been easier just to ram a toothpick in my ear and be done with it, I suspect. Certainly less painful than actually going to the barbecue put together by our neighborhood 子供会(kodomokai), Children’s Group. I don’t know why I ever thought any differently. These are the same people who condemned me to a week of calisthinetics at 6:20 a.m. during summer vacation without so much as a “please” or “thank you,” after all.
The notice showed up in our mailbox one day a couple of weeks ago. It wasn’t any invitation, per se, just a peice of paper demanding to know how many people from our family would be attending. Hubby’s work schedule can be hectic, and the past week especially so, so I wasn’t able to immediately return an answer. Three days later I get two e-mails wanting to know why I haven’t replied yet. Grrr.
The kids were so excited about it, though, that I guess I let their enthusiasm cloud my better judgement. There would be fire involved, after all, and probably marshmallows. Of course they wanted to go! So I replied that the four of us would be attending, and then signed my name in blood.
Little Miss had been asking all morning if it was time to go to the “bar-be-cute” yet, and finally that time arrived: 12 noon, approximately 32 degrees (that’s like 90F.)
In spite of the blazing heat, we showed up at the designated time and place, the school’s barbecue pit. Big no-no, apparently, as everyone else was already there. The men had their work gloves on and were trying to start a fire. I guess there were no former boy scouts among them, as they weren’t having much success. My husband was all like “You didn’t tell me to bring my gloves!” and I’m going “It wasn’t on the list!” which he also looked at, so why is this my fault? Apparently this is one of those “common sense” rules that I’m always missing out on. Now I know, rule #3,421-bring work gloves when invited to a barbecue. This goes right under the one about never EVER writing the truth on a questionnaire from the PTA about if you are available to help at events, EVER.
But I digress.
It is possible that I didn’t know about the work gloves since it is our first year in the Kodomokai. You get drafted automatically, you see, once your child enters first grade. There were other first graders there, but they all have older siblings and mothers who aren’t foreign barbarians and barbecue novices.
After the he-men finally got the fire started, they backed off to enjoy a beer and let(?) the ladies handle the cooking. I wasn’t offered a beer since I don’t have a penis, and my husband refused one, so I couldn’t scarf his. This may have been payback for making him lose face over the gloves, I don’t know. A nice, cold beer would have probably changed my outlook on the whole event, of course, but I guess we’ll never know.
There is a pond full of (probably radioactive) nasty brine water at the school, where there are crayfish, tiny shrimp, and other assorted creepy crawlies. So we have fire, water, bugs, Dads drinking beers, and all the mothers busy cooking. My danger-o-meter was going off like crazy, perhaps since Little Miss was the youngest kid there and I’m not in that “let the kids run around like crazy nuts near fire, water, and creepy crawlies” stage of parenting yet. I spent the whole time shadowing Me Too and offering helpful advice to the kids like “I don’t think that thin branch will hold your weight” and “You probably shouldn’t put your head in there.”
After an hour or so the food was ready: yakiniku, wieners, corn on the cob, and veggie-riffic yakisoba. It WAS good, had that nice smoky flavor that I know is carcinogenic, but still sooo dee-lish.
The Kodomokai czar decided they would try something new this year, roasting marshmallows. (Thank god, my kids would have been so dissappointed otherwise.) This may have been an attempt at internationalization, I’m not sure as by then I was back to the “Didn’t you hear me tell you not put your head in there?” routine. They put the marshmallows on a peice of wax paper and placed that on the teppan, so it wasn’t exactly like how I did it growing up, or how Dr. Suess portrayed it in “The Sneetches,” which apparently is where my kids got the idea to start with. (I had been wondering about that.)
The Kodomokai does this barbecue thing every year, but the jury is still out on whether we will want to go again. The kids will probably want to go, and given some time I may manage to suppress memories of the greater part of the day. Just better be sure and remember the work gloves. (*^_^*)