Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Men and Women

Men and women are different. We experience the same events but see them through our own lenses. 

Nowhere is this more apparent than husbands and wives. You would think people going through life together might see those experiences the same, but when couples retell the same story, a listener might think it's two totally different incidents.

Such is the story of how my wife and I got together. When we talk about our dating life, particularly our engagement, we tell it differently. 

Hope you enjoy the story.

In January 1994, I faced a huge problem. At the time, I was living in Tokyo. Due to problems with my visa, I needed to leave Japan within two weeks. During those two weeks, Motoyo (Mo) visited me. While we were discussing my options, she asked if I wanted to get married. Unbeknownst to her, I had my mother’s engagement ring. I pulled it out and said, “Yes!”

The paragraph above is accurate, though, in Mo’s opinion, I leave out numerous details. However, this is not unusual. She claims my memory is faulty concerning our entire dating life.

I met Mo in Japan in March 1993. At the time, I worked in Osaka. She coordinated PR for a hotel on Awaji Island, a tourist spot only a short boat ride from Kobe. My friends and I went to Awaji during the off-season, hoping to get away from busy jobs and crowded cities. We succeeded beyond measure; the place seemed deserted. More people visited Gilligan’s Island than were on Awaji Island while we were there.

The hotel where my wife worked offered monthly classical concerts as part of a weekend package to increase off-season business. With nothing else to do, my friends and I went into the hotel to ask about the concert.

The front desk clerk saw us enter and, concerned we might not speak Japanese, got Mo to handle the situation as Mo speaks English. We ended up at the concert, even attending a party afterwards for the violinist that had performed. At the party, I got Mo’s phone number and called her a week later. The stories since then from each of us:

Me: I was immediately attracted to Mo from the minute I saw her and decided I would do whatever I could to get to know her better.
Mo: You hit on the violinist, an attractive Japanese woman in a low-cut blue dress. After striking out, you introduced yourself to me.

Me: Our first date was at a nice Italian restaurant in Osaka.
Mo: The food wasn’t great, but Walt was paying.

Me: I was devoted to Mo from the beginning.
Mo: You were dating other girls besides me. They just lived farther away.

Me: I knew Mo was the only girl for me.
Mo: You knew you would never find anyone else to put up with you.

So, when I tell people that Mo proposed, she lets them know her side, stating I’d already mentioned prior to that evening that I wanted to get married. She’d turned me down, saying I should ask again after we’d dated for a year. That January night, her question of us getting married was a discussion item ; she was caught off guard by the ring (as well as my “crying” about possibly being deported and not knowing when I would see her again).

We’ve been married nearly seventeen years now.

This could change, if she sees this in print.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Cautious Step Forward

After a long time of ignoring the internet capabilities of our Wii, I finally went through the process of making my sons’s system internet-capable. I connected to the net, downloaded the software, and can now use our TV to surf the web.

I did this primarily for my wife. She often watches Japanese TV and videos on her laptop. I thought it would be nice if she could watch those videos on TV, making them a lot easier to see. She admits she’s looking forward to it.

The thing I wasn’t thinking about though is that it opens up the Wii for my sons to compete in their games against other players around the world. I have to admit that this intimidated me a little. There a lot of crazy people in the world. My sons, ages 14 and 10, are trusting kids. They also like their games. They idea of challenging other players makes them happy.

We had a long talk with our kids. We explained the ground rules.

1) Never use your real name or anything similar as your screen name.
2) Never chat with another player.
3) Never mention your age.
4) Never mention where you’re from.
5) Never download anything without asking their Mom or I.

They say they understand. They say they won’t do any of these things. We’ve told them that we trust them.

With that in mind, they started playing with other players and are having a blast. For the moment, they’re losing big.

Watching it on the screen, both their Mom and I think it looks like fun.

Let’s hope it stays the way it is.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

First Hit

Both my sons are about halfway through their baseball seasons. Both of them are on teams with winning records, so both are doing better than the Braves so far. However, this blog post today isn’t about my kids.

Four years ago, though, it was about one of them.

On my younger son’s team, ages 9-10, is a kid in his first year of playing. On a team of this age group, there are usually a number of kids that have played for several years. Other kids may have played less but still have two or three seasons of experience. However, a kid of ten in his first year struggles to learn the basics. It’s hard.

Even harder is getting into the batter’s box and trying to hit.

Hitting a baseball has been described as the most difficult thing to do in sports. Essentially, the goal of hitting is to strike a small sphere squarely with a thin cylinder.

For a new kid, though, there’s an additional challenge. At some point in the season, he will get hit. It hurts when it happens. At younger ages, kids cry when they get hit. The kids pitching also cry because they don’t want to hit a batter. However, it’s part of the game. As a parent, your heart goes out for any kid who gets hit and you flinch when it happens.

So it was with a kid on my younger son’s team. In his first season, the kid got hit by a pitch in the second game. From there on, the coaches had trouble getting him out of the dugout when it was his turn to bat. On the one or two times he did leave the dugout, he stood as far away from the plate as he could, took his three swings, and sat down.

It continued until three games later when his teammates convinced him to dig in and try again. As a parent, you watch that kid come to the plate, pray that he will foul the ball or put it in play, at least to get himself a little confidence. You also know if he gets hit again, he may not leave the dugout for another three or four games.

Then there’s the crack of the bat.

When the ball flies over the first baseman’s head, you and every other parent jumps out of their seat. However, your screams are dwarfed by a chorus of high-pitched voices, the kid’s teammates. By the time that kid arrives at third, all of his teammates are chanting his name. When he scores on a ground ball by the next hitter, the screams grow louder.

From there on, the kid jogs to the plate every time it’s his turn, his teammates chanting his name as he takes his swings. He has joined the ranks of the hitters and everyone knows what he can do.

My older son, now 14, went through something similar. He played his first season of baseball when he was turning ten. He got hit several times. He walked a lot. I used to cross myself when he went to the plate. When he got that first hit, I went nuts. So did his teammates. However, for my older son, it took a season and a half.

Since that day several years ago, both my sons have played several seasons of spring and fall baseball. Each has had the thrill of playing on one championship team. It’s great feeling to watch your kids celebrate a championship.

However, listening to kids cheer on the teammates and sharing their joys, you understand that there are more important things than winning.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Lottery Blues

I’ll admit it. I bought a ticket for last week’s $500+ million lottery jackpot.

I made a special trip to the grocery store late Friday afternoon and stood in line with the rest of the crowd at Kroger, all of us ready to plunk down our donations to education funding in Georgia.

While standing there in line, I noticed a sign that said eggs were selling for less than a dollar a dozen. I thought that sounded like a good deal, so I pulled out my cell and called my wife.

She confirmed it. “Pick up two dozen,” she said.

My brief shopping trip complete, I headed home. My wife was happy with my alertness, since she plans her shopping trips with getting the best savings she can. In her mind, my alertness with the eggs had more than paid for the lottery tickets, meaning we hadn’t wasted money. I even posted the following phrase on my FB page: “You know you're married when impressing a woman means realizing that eggs are on sale.” It was probably one of the most popular comments that I’ve ever made on FB.

About midnight, we were up late watching a movie and my wife suggested I should check the numbers. I pulled out my iPad and looked it up.

We didn’t match a single number.

My wife laughed about it as we always do when we buy lottery tickets for big jackpots. Then she noticed my receipt and saw that I’d bought two tickets.

“I told you to get one.”

I fumbled for a response but said nothing. I knew I couldn’t say that I thought her comment to “buy two” was for the tickets as well as the eggs.

“You erased our savings,” she said.

Truthfully, she wasn’t that worried about the extra dollar, but there’s a principle involved. It would be great to win the lottery, but the chance of winning is minuscule. You pay to participate in the fun of “possibility.” One ticket is fine.

Two are a waste.

Glad I didn’t buy five.