Friday, 30 November 2007

Putting Oneself Through Hell

In two weeks time I'm going to ask Mamiko's dad for his daughter's hand in marriage. When I proposed, about a year ago, she thought it would be best to just let him know then, but for some reason I decided it would be best to do it properly, meet the old guy face-to-face, and perform The Ritual. (In Japan, traditionally, a woman's young swain is supposed to approach the father, bow down, and ask if he can marry the daughter. He is then told to, basically, fuck off. He then has to leave the house and come back later, whereupon this time his proposal will be accepted.)

Now part of me is beginning to curse that decision. Why did I think it was a good idea? With each passing day I get more and more terrified. I don't know why, you see, but Mamiko's dad is scary.

Okay, I'm lying, I do know why he's scary. Partly it's because he's the foreman of an entire fishing port, which gives him this sense of authority and confidence which leaves the position of 'alpha male' in no dispute. Partly it's because he barely every speaks, but spends most of the time glaring moodily at people. Partly it's because girlfriends' dads are just innately a little frightening - I always worry that, at any second, they're going to accuse me of being a feckless young layabout who's tempting their darling daughter into a life of penury and unhappiness - before gathering their mates together into a lynch mob and running me out of town.

But mostly it's because he has a black belt in judo, and could probably dislocate my spine or something with just a flick of the wrist. That's the kind of guy you shouldn't do anything to piss off.


zero_zero_one said...

Everyone always says about meeting the girlfriend's father, and how that's bad etc.

I remember going to meet an ex's parents for the first time. She told me, "My dad suffers from depression. He was in an industrial accident a year ago, and can't work now. Sometimes he's violent. He hated my last boyfriend."

So, I was really quite nervous about meeting him... But he turned out to be, on meeting him, a very pleasant guy. I'm completely sure that he had his moments, but he was never anything other than friendly to me.

Now, her mother on the other hand... Well, let's not go there.

Good luck!

Amanda said...

LOL! I'm sorry for laughing at your expense but it was a really funny post.

Don't worry, you're doing the right thing. It will mean a lot to your future father-in-law. I know my dad was blown away when my husband asked him if we could get married....and that was only over the phone!

Bilbo said...

When I proposed to Agnes, I asked her how I should approach her parents. She said she was over 30 and she was going to marry me whether her parents approved or not (but they already liked me anyhow). My biggest problem was just understanding her father - a great guy, but speaking an utterly unintelligible dialect of German. One of my great memories is of one of my first telephone conversations with him before we'd met face to face...I couldn't understand a word he was saying, and in the background, my prospective mother-in-law was yelling at him to "red' deutlich, Peter...der arme Bilbo kann dich nicht verstehen!" ("speak clearly, Peter...poor Bilbo can't understand!"). It's gotten better since... Good luck - we'll all look forward to the outcome!

noisms said...

It's funny Bilbo should say that, because I also forgot to mention that Mamiko's father also speaks a very odd dialect - her family are from an obscure town in an obscure prefecture in an obscure part of Japan, and I can only catch every other word he says. It's disconcerting. (Odd that I can understand her mother and sister perfectly well - why is it that men seem to have stronger regional accents than women?)

zero_zero_one said...

I've been chuckling about this for the last hour... Man, I wish I was a fly on the wall for this meeting, I really do...