It is very late on a Monday night but I want to share this story with you so I don’t break my blogging streak.
On Monday nights I visit a family here in town and practice English with their daughters. In return for a few hours of English study, they feed me dinner, talk to me, and let me watch TV. All in all it’s a good system. I have long believed in the merits of working for food, and having this weekly appointment means at least once a week I have to be a person and that there is someone who would notice if I disappeared. These are important things to think about.
Tonight after dinner and ice cream the mom and the grandma drove me home, but first they asked if it was alright to go to the grocery store. Of course I said yes, assuming they needed to pick up some food for themselves.
When we got to the store, the grandma told me “Pick whatever you want.”
“I just went to the supermarket yesterday,” I explained. “I only have a mini fridge, so I have to be careful of what I buy.”
”遠慮しないで。遠慮しないでよ！Don’t hold back. Don’t hold back!” she told me.
From then on it was a test of wills that I largely lost. She insisted that I buy some cup noodles. I chose one, she added another, demanded I choose two more, and then said I had to take a fifth because four was an unlucky number. I held my ground on milk and bread because I already have bread and don’t drink milk. They handed me a frozen pizza, and even when I explained it wouldn’t fit in my freezer I was told to just cut it and wrap it in pieces. I did actually need some oatmeal so I voluntarily put a bag of that in the basket. “Do you want two?” she asked. “It’s just me,” I countered.
The biggest defeat was the ice cream. She asked if I wanted ice cream. I said I was fine.
“You don’t like ice cream?” she asked, knowing she’d seen me eating ice cream on multiple occasions.
“I like ice cream but…” I said in the lovely way Japanese has of saying no without giving a reason or actually saying no.
“But… here, this is delicious. You like melon, right?”
I now have five different ice creams in my fridge and a bag of chocolates.
At the end of the day I am thankful for the universality of grandmas. It is bittersweet, remembering my grandma who passed away one month ago today and all of the food she sent me off with over the years, but it is also a precious feeling to be worried over by a grandma. She knows that I am single, 24, and living on my own, and she is (probably rightfully) concerned that I don’t take proper care of myself, and so she insists that I always have food when I leave her presence. It is nice to be cared for. It’s nice to know that there are people here who would help me if I really needed it.
And hell I’ll be honest it’s nice to have ice cream in my freezer, too.