The Gift

I may have mentioned in passing that my in-laws are, um, eccentric. Usually in a good way.

They are currently having their apartment remodeled. The Japanese word for this, by the way, is “reform.” Can’t have those buildings getting all delinquent-y on us, now can we?

Anyway, this “reforming” would be hard in the best case scenario. My FIL is a retired “engineer” of sorts, so he feels like he is the boss of the operation. He follows the workers around, sweeping up after them, commenting on their handy work, changing the station of their radios…At one point, one of the workers told him he would be using an electric sander thingy-dingy, and since the air would get very dusty he should probably go wait in another room. Any normal person would have done that, but alas we aren’t dealing with a “normal” person. FIL left the room briefly and then returned, wearing a surgical mask.


I was there; I saw it. I wish I’d had a camera because if I had a photo of the look on that construction worker’s face I would now be the proud winner of a Pulitzer.

For the most part, the Hamakko household have managed to not be involved in this process of reformation. Oh sure, when they are doing something particularly interesting like knocking walls down then we will go to watch. We were called upon to visit the newly installed automatic flush toilet. It even puts the lid up for you. Fun stuff like that? I am ON BOARD.


Yesterday, we were invited to the work in progress for gyouza. Yummmm. It’s been a couple of weeks, actually, since we had dinner with the in-laws. Well, there was that one trip to a restaurant, but that was more of a feeding frenzy. Then there was the time they came to our house and watched us eat, which was just weird. But anyway, back to gyouza. Yummmm.

MIL informs me that they are getting a new “inter phone.” This is an intercom that let’s you talk to whoever rings the doorbell. It’s quite handy, as you don’t accidentally open the door to Jehovah’s Witness missionaries or newspaper salesmen or other people who try to get you to make a commitment you will regret in the long run.

I’m like, “That’s nice.” Baba goes on,”We’re getting one with a video screen.” These little babies allow you to see who is at the door without actually having to talk to them or give away the fact that you are at home by turning the light on in the foyer. I’m like, “Cool.”

Then she says, “あのね、” ano ne. Any time you hear a Japanese person say this, run for the hills. Do not pass go; do not collect $200. Trust me.

This phrase probably literally translates as “Well…” or a throat clearing noise. It’s used to preface something the other party is probably not going to want to hear. It’s a short way to say, “We need to talk.”

Turns out FIL, in all his patriarchal glory, has ordered an inter-phone for us as well. Whether we want it or not. It will be installed tomorrow, whether we will be home or not.

<Throat clearing noise.>

Yeah, the in-laws have some issues with boundaries. Like I said, Japanese version of Everybody Loves Raymond.

But I’ve been wanting an inter-phone thing, and we needed a new doorbell anyway since ours doesn’t ring. Yes, that means it is a pointless apparatus, an exercise in futility. (The camera comes on when the doorbell is rung, so we’d be getting a new bell as well.) Me Too had a school thing today, so I wouldn’t be home. MIL said she’d ask the workers to come after lunch….

We arrive home from the school thing to a new inter-phone and doorbell. Plus a sink full of washed dishes and a re-arranged counter set-up. And MIL had taken the grapes I had in the fridge out. Getting too cold will spoil them, she said.

So much for asking the workers to come later.

All I can do is laugh. It doesn’t really bother me, but I have a feeling a Japanese wife would have been very pissed of by the home invasion. Yes indeed, they are lucky to have me. I’ve always got dirty dishes to spare.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. gaijinwife
    Dec 19, 2011 @ 21:32:02

    I’m thinking you should just always leave the laundry unfolded on the sofa so that if she happens to turn up she’ll have something to do instead of rearranging bench tops.


    • hamakkomommy
      Dec 20, 2011 @ 07:46:00

      The best part of this whole fiasco is that they had it installed at this weird angle, so if someone is standing more than six inches away from the front door then the camera can’t see them. Oh well, it’s a fun toy for the kids, I guess.


  2. chrysanthemummum
    Dec 20, 2011 @ 15:47:10

    Jeez, you are so funny. Enjoy your new gadget!


  3. illahee
    Dec 29, 2011 @ 14:52:58

    you had me laughing with your FIL and the sterile mask. priceless!


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