Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Becoming a Man in America

Because my husband has traveled to Japan quite a bit, this opened some sort of door for his business partners to send their children to America to stay with us for an extended period of time.  Our first such houseguest was Kosumasa, or Koz, which we nicknamed him - the son of the owner of the Japanese company that my husband does business with.

Koz had never been out of Tokyo prior to his trip, he played the tuba,  and he did not speak ONE LICK of English.  We were under the impression that he had been taking English classes.  He either dropped out or failed or both - unless the only thing on the English 101 Curriculum in Japan is to smile and nod.

To be clear, Koz slept 16 - 18 hours a day.  When he was not pretending to want eggs and then refusing them once I prepared them, he was on his ipod or computer.
"Koz, I am making eggs.  Would you like some eggs?  You know. Egg. Egg. Egg.  You eat it.  You know, egg."
"Oh yes, egg.  Yes I wan egg."  I make the eggs.  "Oh no egg.  Jus coffee.  Yes.  Sank you."

I would tiptoe around the house all morning and try to keep my children (who were ages 1 and 3) as quiet as possible. During his 4 waking hours, I could not communicate with Koz, and he could not communicate with me.  Nothing seemed to impress or interest him.  At first he was polite and was game to see the various touristy aspects of Columbus, Ohio ("Koz, this is Ohio Stadium.  You, you're out of cigarettes?...ok).  After a while, he would just ask if he could go back to his room.   I had two very young children and a Japanese teenager for three weeks that summer. It was maddening. 

About mid-way through his stay, Koz emerges from his room and wants to borrow my bike with the baby seat on the back.  Okay,  Koz cannot read road signs, he does not know the neighborhood and he is used to driving on the other side of the road. 
"Of course you can take my bike."  I reply after a series of nods and bows and pointing in the garage.  "You don't mind taking the baby, do you?" Koz nods and smiles indicating "yes", of course.

So I watch him ride away with his new ipod blaring God knows what and pray that there is not an international incident in my immediate future. After a stressful 45 minutes, Koz comes back with Subway and a six pack.  This was the beginning of his rebellious phase.  I guess 8 days at the Underwood household will do that to you.

"Koz, could you not smoke in your room?  My daughter has asthma and it smells bad.  You may go outside.  You know, outside."  I would point to the open window that he was blowing smoke rings out of.
Smiling, "Oh yes.  Outside.  Very butiful."He lit a second cig off of his first one as he pondered the beauty of my backyard.  On went his headphones and pop went the tab of his tallboy Coors Light.

I was DONE.  I had another week to go and I could not fathom another day of this sleeping til noon, beer swigging, chain smoking nightmare.  When he went on his daily "Subway run" on my Mombike, I would enter his room and clean out his ashtrays and throw away his empties.  I discovered that he had started drinking our beer, as well, and he was sneaking down to the basement bar in the middle of the night. I assumed he must be miserable. Brilliant.

"You have got to take Koz today!" I would plead with Brad in the driveway when he was leaving for work.
"I'm not gonna take him.  You take him.  I took him to work yesterday and all he did was sleep in the conference room and chain smoke.  Take him to the mall or something.  I don't know.  I've got to go to work."

Well, to make a long story short, I took Koz and my two tiny children to the Mall.  Staying true to my character, I locked my keys in the car.  It was a very emotional scene between my husband and I when he had to leave work to come and get us.

To smooth things over, I dug out this old pirated Pulp Fiction movie that happened to have Japanese subtitles.  (Random, I know, but we had this because when we lived in Boulder, this techie I was friends with, was always selling pirated movies from Japan.)  Koz stayed in his room for the next 36 hours.

Shortly thereafter, we put Koz on a plane and he went back to Tokyo.  Brad and I had no idea what he was going to say to his parents when he got there.  

A few weeks later we received an elaborate gift (two traditional Japanese robes, two sizes too small) with a note that basically said that Koz had become a MAN while on his visit to the U.S. Apparently, becoming a man IS universal.  It means laying around all day, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes while watching Pulp Fiction on a loop.

The only thing that I remember sparking any interest in Koz was when we took him to see Cirque Du Soleil. I am a big fan.  Dralion just finished in Columbus. You can see it in Indy beginning August 3rd. Sorry, I guess I should have done this post earlier!

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