Friday, August 29, 2008

Japanaventures 7: Day 4 - Badminton in Hell

Imagine one of those grueling family dinners where you’re forced to meet every distant cousin you didn’t know you had. Now imagine that they’re not actually your relatives, but your girlfriend’s sister’s soon-to-be in-laws. Now imagine they all speak Japanese and very little English but are very inquisitive.

At first I found this fascinating especially given how completely disconnected from the situation that I was. The evening started innocently enough, with everyone sitting on the floor around a low table eating a feast of home-prepared Japanese dishes with the TV on in the corner showing what else but the USA vs. Japan Olympic soccer game. At first, the US contingent of eaters were holding their own with their Japanese counterparts, in spite of being slightly outnumbered.

But then wave after wave of additional Japanese relatives started arriving. With each arrival came the mandatory pointing, laughing, and talking in Japanese about how much Diana looks like her twin sister. You’d think they’d never seen a pair of identical twins before, which of course they had, because T’s sisters are twins who look even more alike than Diana and A. I can tell Diana and A apart in old high school photographs. I couldn’t tell T’s sisters apart the entire trip. T’s own niece doesn’t even know which one is her mom half the time.

At one point Diana leaned over to me and said “this is everything I hate about being a twin all in one evening.”

Then the local high school girls’ badminton team arrived.

(Us with Diana's parents, T's parents, and the badminton team.)

As the evening wore on A & T escaped to work on last minute wedding tasks while Diana and I and her parents were left to fend off question after question from the Japanese relatives all funneled through the one cousin who spoke some English. Meanwhile Diana’s mother reveled in the opportunity to practice her Japanese.

The soccer game long over, I gradually grew a new appreciation for the Samurai practice of hari kari. T’s aunt’s house has a small outbuilding filled with “family treasures”. Certainly there’s a sword out there. If I could only get out of the room and into the yard…

When all looked bleak with no end to the inquisition in sight, we were saved by T’s brother-in-law who took us into the next room to play Wii. Saved by Mario Cart.

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