It was final. My father in law (“Otousan”) was NOT going to drive us. He suggested instead that we just stay home and celebrate Okaasan’s birthday here at the house. The kids were disappointed. They really wanted to take their Obaachan out but he wanted to get nice and drunk. Everyone agreed to my suggestion that we take the bus. By the time the women were ready, it was late and Otousan was grumpy. It didn’t help matters that the bus was also late. Once at the mall, Otousan didn’t wait for Okaasan to pick the place but simply walked into the closest restaurant with little concern for their menu. Unfortunately, the food proved slow in coming which caused Otousan to add more complaints to his running list.

After paying the bill, and now convincingly drunk, Otousan stumbled ahead of us eager to catch the bus home. We were still about ten yards behind preparing to do a little shopping about the time he reached the escalator. My wife, Yumi, called out, “Otousan!” It was too late. He looked back as he stepped down and the escalator carried him away. Then, to our surprise, nearing the bottom he stretched his arms upward as if trying to grab ahold of us and began running in our direction, leaving us stunned at what resembled a hamster on his wheel, jogging up the escalator and getting nowhere. Uncontrollable laughter erupted as we watched in disbelief as he continued to run in place, neither gaining nor losing ground. Finally, he relented. Now at the bottom of the escalator, sweaty and disheveled, Otousan looked up at us wondering if we were planning on joining him. Okaasan expressed her appreciation for the gift of dinner and entertainment that he had provided. Before he could find a way back upstairs, Okaasan escorted the kids into a jewelry store offering to buy them something expensive on his credit card.