FRAGMENTS OF TELEPHONE CONVERSATIONS WITH MY JAPANESE MOTHER
On Learning Of My Upcoming Trip To Canada Over The Summer:
JM: Why you go there? Good grief! Such crazy thing doing! You be careful! I don’t know why have to go here, go there, all time . . . spend money like drunken sailor!
AH: I’m visiting an old friend from graduate school, and I’m going to see the Canadian Rockies. It’s going to be nice.
JM: [Suspiciously] What friend from graduate school?
AH: Yeah . . . B.
JM: [As if suddenly struck by the realization that she could have had a V-8] Oh . . . B! What B. doing now?
AH: She teaches music at the University of Lethbridge.
JM: Is she own her own home?
AH: Um . . . not that it’s apropos of anything, but . . . er, yeah, as a matter of fact, she does.
JM: Well, at least she have good job and can take care of self. [Clearly unwilling to lose the slightest opportunity to stick it to me by broadly implying that I, on the other hand, unlike E. and P. (and now B.) who DO own their own homes, am a total loser by comparison.] Where that close to, so I know where you are?
AH: I’ll be a couple hours away from Calgary.
JM: Oh, Cowl-galley! [wistfully] I never been someplace nice like Cowl-galley before. I can’t afford. You better take pictures so I can see what Cowl-galley look like.
AH: Okay, sure.
JM: But I so worry about you flying anyplace! I saw on news that people been rob by pickpocket! Gang of pickpocket loose! All back and forth to Florida and back. Gypsy pickpocket! Gang of Irish gypsy pickpocket! I wish you not have to go anywhere right now when there gang of Irish gypsy pickpocket about to rob you!
Regarding Gay Marriage in Canada:
JM: So you been stay in Canada with your friend B. So how about B.’s friend T.? Didn’t B. used to have a friend, T.? [Having reminisced about my friends from graduate school, my mother had clearly had an Ack! Lesbians! epiphany during the interim.]
AH: Yeah, that’s right . . . she did.
JM: [Thinking she’s being all wily and crafty and shit.] So where T. now? You been staying with B. and T. while there?
AH: Uh . . . no. B. and T. broke up about seven years ago. T. got married.
JM: [Unable to resist what sounds like juicy gossip.] T. get marry?!?!
AH: Yeah . . . she married a girl.
JM: Oh my God! Such crazy thing! Is that what you going to do? I know you up to something fishy when you calling home to get state issue birth certificate! Why you need state issue birth certificate to cross border when you have original hospital birth certificate? Such crazy! I know you been up to something!
AH: Uh, no . . . since 9/11, the border-crossing rules have changed, and now they require a state-issued birth certificate and driver’s license or a passport. Since my passport’s expired and I didn’t have time to renew it, I needed a state-issued birth certificate. Geez . . . I can’t believe you think I’m getting married!
JM: [Suspiciously] So . . . who B.’s girlfriend now, since T. get married someone else?
AH: [Perhaps a bit TOO gleefully] Me . . . I’m her girlfriend!
JM: Yo-ne! Stupid!! Don’t be ridiculous!! Here . . . talk to your father.
[Editorial Note: Apparently my mother is not at all entirely convinced that I didn’t get married while in Canada. For someone who eloped with a “Yankee” in post-war Japan, she doesn’t seem to see the irony of being completely paranoid over the idea of having her daughter elope with a Canadian Dyke.]
Because Canada Is So Dangerous And Unwholesome:
JM: Oh . . . thank goodness! Your father and I so happy you finally home safe! We been so worry and worry you going to get Mad Cow Disease, or SARS, or West Nile Virus. Although you make sure don’t go anywhere now you home because everybody dying from West Nile Virus in South Dakota. So wear long sleeve, and use lots of DEET, and if anybody ask you go anywhere in evening, make sure you just say no.
AH: Uh . . . right.
JM: Now you finally get work done. I so worry you not writing, and you have to make good report to artist foundation otherwise you get kick out!
AH: Actually, I got a lot of writing done in Canada.
JM: Don’t be crazy! I know all about you . . . you too stupid and unorganize!
AH: [Defensively] Whatever.
JM: I just so happy you safe at home finally. Your father and I been so worry . . . we get that strange phone call [I had to cash a check while in Canada, and they called up my references, apparently] and they want to know if you in Canada and if you have tattoo on your face, and they say you standing right there, but I don’t know why you don’t even want to talk to us . . . such make us worry, instead! And your father and I don’t sleep for two whole day because we decide you did something fishy at border crossing and been detain at border and can’t get out, and all your fault, and nothing we can do about it! Your father and I getting old, and maybe we going die soon, so you not make us worry again like that. Okay?
Pics of the Day: Mountain Goat, at Waterton National Park, Alberta, Canada; Red Rock Canyon, in Waterton National Park, Alberta, Canada; and Blackiston Falls, in Waterton National Park, Alberta, Canada.
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