Saturday, October 12, 2002
More Fragments of Phone Conversations With My Japanese Mother

Regarding Use of the Secret Code

JM: What's matter? Something wrong?

AH: Nothing's wrong. You wanted me to call you when I got back into town, but I decided to stay another day . . . I'm just letting you know so you don't get worried.

JM: Yeah . . . we been so worry. Watching watching Weather Channel for bad weather and saying if you smart you not try to drive anywhere in October. Then hear phone ringing, ringing, ringing so I thought "Uh oh . . . must be Artichoke Heart got in trouble."

AH: No, no trouble. And sorry about letting the phone ring like that. I hoped if I let it ring long enough you'd finally figure out it was me.

JM: Nobody else going to let so crazy ring and ring like that! What's matter with you? You forgot how to use the Secret Code again? You only supposed to ring twice then hang up so we know it's you, then going to call you right back.

AH: That's what I'm trying to tell you. I'm not at home, so if you tried to call me back I wouldn't be there. I decided to stay another day.

JM: You not home?

AH: No.

JM: Gosh, you stay another day isn't P. going to get sick of you? Anyway, you get home you call us use Secret Code. Ring twice then hang up so we know it's you, then going to call you right back. We don't like to answer phone because of Telemarketer.

AH: You've never liked to answer the phone the entire time I've known you.

JM: Yeah . . . but Telemarketer got so bad now we don't want answer phone ever again. So make sure you use Secret Code. You remember how to use this time?

None of My Business

JM: Was that you who just call?

AH: No . . . was somebody calling you?

JM: Yeah . . . somebody ring twice then hang up, so I thought you trying to call me. Are you sure you not trying to call?

AH: I'm sure. How are you?

JM: Oh. We fine. Hang on. Maybe your father have something want to say to you.

[My mother then clamps her hand over the phone receiver for a minute or so, and I can hear her talking to my father, but it's of course too muffled with her hand over the receiver to make out what they're saying.]

AH: Hey . . . are you going to talk to me, or talk to each other while I'm on the phone?

JM: What?

AH: I hate it when you do that. What are you two talking about?

JM: None you business.

Regarding My Cats

JM: [In a jokey mood.] When I come visit you I going wait until you go teaching, then I'm going take all you mongrel cats and give to pound.

Regarding Death of a Friend's Cat

JM: Why anybody need to be sad? You just give away one of your mongrel cat to E. Then all fix.

On Professional Attire

JM: I been so worry you going to go teaching when dress like hippy. You know, nobody going to tell you when you look like hippy. They just going to talk about you behind back. So when we went to Crazy Days Sidewalk Sale I find such nice dress and I think "this dress be such good dress for Artichoke Heart to wear when teaching." Use to be very expensive dress. I never can afford. But way mark down and I have to fight other ladies to grab it first. I try on and your father say look so good on me I should keep for myself, but instead I going to send to send you in mail so you wear for teaching.

[Note to reader: The dress in question will be either one of two things: (1) a horrifyingly girly-girl dress in unremitting pastels with shoulder pads and puffy sleeves; or (2) a somewhat matronly affair in polyester with shoulder pads and mongo-enormous gold buttons.]

AH: Mom, that's really nice. But I've got plenty of clothes. Really. And we've talked about this before . . . that I prefer to pick out my own clothes, remember? You should definitely keep it for yourself.

JM: Yeah . . . but you don't know anything about good fashion. You have bad taste clothing. So even though I hate to let go, I going to send to you. Make sure you wear with nice pump, and carry nice handbag. And no funny color pantyhose.

AH: Mom, please . . . don't send it. I don't even wear dresses anymore, I don't own a pair of pumps, I don't carry handbags, and I have no plans whatsoever to wear pantyhose at any time in my foreseeable future.

JM: So you don't care people talking behind your back saying you look like hippy?

AH: [Laughing.] What people? Where? I'm sure my colleagues could give a shit what I'm wearing.

JM: See? That's what I mean. You never know what people because they talking behind your back. Doesn't bother you?

AH: Not particularly.

JM: [Huffily] Well don't come crying to me if don't get tenure. [Then, brightening.] But anyways, I tell you what. I going to send to you so you can try on and see how nice you look. You wear. You see. But if not like you make sure send back to me because your father say I look so nice that dress and shouldn't waste time send you. But that's okay. I send it anyway.

Posted by Artichoke Heart | 9:49 PM |
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Books by Artichoke Heart
Beyond Heart Mountain
Year of the Snake

Poems by Artichoke Heart
Songs for a Rainy Season
Toothpick Warriors
Snake Wife
Happy Hour
Girl With A Bowl On Her Head

Pillow Book Courtiers Of The
East Wing
Blogroll Me!

Pillow Book Courtiers Of The
West Wing
Blogroll Me!

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