Don’t be fooled: This picture isn’t showing you a simple story of mechanical claw prowess.
The morning of the photo, my wife was trying to shoo me out of the house. I had told her that I had wanted to go record shopping in a relatively close Tokyo neighborhood. That morning, I just wasn’t feeling it.
I woke up tired and semi-infected thanks to our children being incubators for all manner of disease. Catching a train (even though the rail system in Japan is superior to that of the States) that becomes a big petri-dish because of the amount of people that try to pile in, wasn’t something that I had wanted to partake in on that particular day.
As a compromise and to ensure that I got out of the house (because she had threatened to make me miserable if I didn’t), my wife suggested that I take the boy. I quickly reasoned that that option was the way to go. He used to be a train fanatic (and still is to some degree), he’s almost always good company, and he’s been having a hard time socializing with other kids his age.
His reluctance to socialize started before we left the states. On top of that, getting a straight answer out of him when it comes to expressing feelings is a Herculean feat. Unfortunately, he takes after his father in that respect. If I had to guess, I’d say that the impermanence of friendships when you live a gypsy lifestyle really sank in when he learned we’d be living in a foreign country for a couple of years.
So I took the boy on a train ride. A short train ride. We got off at Tachikawa, had lunch at McDonald’s, and I alternated between me, tripping on the generally laid-back-ed-ness of the city and trying to get him to participate in our semi exploration.
Then we found an arcade.
Arcades are plentiful here. Back in the states, they went the way of the Do-do bird. Personally, I think that they have survived in Japan because a large part of the currency is coinage (everything less that 10 USD is coin, you could probably apply my numb-but logic to the popularity of gambling here as well).
He perked up as soon as he realized what was before him.The video games he wasn’t interested in so much. Claw machines? That’s his shit.
Claw machines are even more of his shit when one of those machines has a clock in the shape of a cardboard boy. 25 dollars and a half an hour later, we had attracted the attention fo the Arcade attendant. Being amused by my dedication and my son’s fanaticism, he offered some pointers before going back to tending the other machines.
10 minutes laters the attendant came back to see us still at it.
Graciously, he opened the case, rigged the box to where a light breeze would have blown it over and said to me in perfect english, “Hit it right there”, while pointing at a crucial area of the box.
I did what I was told and everybody won something that day. My son got a good memory and a temporary object of desire, the attendant got to witness a father’s dedication to his son, and me? I made everyone involved in this story, including myself, a little bit happier.
Here’s a quick history of how my son, Finn, was shuffled onto this mortal coil.
It was 2005. My wife and I were talking about having a baby. Basically what that means was that she was yelling at me a whole lot and I was trying to stay calm.
What we decided, amidst talks of having children, was that we needed to move. We were paying too much for the apartment that we were living at and we wanted to find some place cheaper and smaller. And that’s what we did: We went from ghetto living to trendy neighborhood as most young couples do in their mid-twenties.
In a poorly decided attempt to save money, and because I had the most flexibility in my work schedule, I decided that I would let our leases overlap so that we would have one month left in our ‘soon to be’ old place and one month all ready started in our new place. The idea behind this was for us to move into our new place at a leisurely pace.
I had a set work schedule and no other commitments so I would be doing most of the work by myself. I was ok with that because my wife was working full-time and going to school. She would be relied on for packing. No biggie.
What really happened was I did all of the moving except for two days. One of the days, I needed my brother to help me move the furniture and the other day my wife jumped in on the last big move. Prior to her jumping in at the last-minute, she yelled at me the entire month.
I couldn’t figure out what the problem was. I worked a full-time job. I was sociable when I was home, and I was moving us. On my own. Everything I did was wrong. Yes, I admit that I was a little unorganized when it came to unloading the van. I was by myself and everything was in the general area of where it needed to be.
I couldn’t win.
All of this happened during the month of July. Eventually, August rolls around. It’s still ‘ain’t no fuckin’ way I’m wearin’ underwear today’ kind of hot. She’s still yelling. I try to get out of her what’s going on, and it’s a lot of generalizations and non sequiturs. I seriously start to question things. I get to the point of mentally preparing myself for going our separate ways.
(her) “I got good news.”
(her) “I’m pregnant.”
I don’t remember what in the hell I said after that. I couldn’t talk very well. I couldn’t think. The only thing I could do was move. Everything was sooo clear to me right then.
The entire drive home from work, I kept thinking ‘She’s pregnant. That’s why she’s been acting like such a whack-bat. She’s pregnant.’
When I got home that night, we talked. About what, I don’t know. I was just happy that I knew what was going on.
The next nine months flew by.