At some point this last week, I got forty dollars worth of parking tickets for leaving my car behind Boundary Bay Brewery for two days during the week. There is no free parking downtown, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about people who issue parking tickets for a living, it’s that they take their jobs very seriously to avoid the harsh reality that their job is a puffed-up excuse to ruin someone’s day. Seriously. I had a classmate who wrote incessantly about her work-study job as a meter maid in the commuter lot at our college and there is actually documented in black and white an essay that she wrote that stated she only felt confident when she was at work ans that her favorite part of the job was getting people towed or threatening them with it.
Meter maids are people who are too chicken-shit to join the mob and run protection rackets.
That rant aside, the reason I parked there was because it put me within walking distance of Uji’s apartment and I had intended on leaving before the meter maid came around.
He insisted on paying the tickets off and offered that the next time I came over, he would pick me up.
This meant he had to meet the family.
He came over a little after nine, when the boys were in bed. My sister was scrambling around the house, trying to clean up before Dozer’s tenth birthday party happened the next day. The Dork-In-Law was on the computer and Chucky was asleep and just starting to stir herself.
When I brought him upstairs, his reception was a little like the way everyone greeted Koshka:
Kali motioned him inside, putting a hand on his shoulder. “You’re right, he IS cute! Ask him if he wants coffee!”
“You ask him. Make a drinking motion.” She did.
Water, please, he signed. I translated. Or hot tea? I had made him a cup of Assam that morning, because I’m a bit of a tea snob and I buy the loose-leaf stuff.
Neither my sister or I possess a teapot, so I brewed tea in a Pyrex measuring cup and poured it into the boys’ “Cars” mugs and we sat on the couch.
Uji immediately started examining the movie collection, which rivals his own, and he and my Dork-In-Law were soon nerding it up over the anime shelf.
“Hey, Pod, ask him if he’s seen ‘Ergo Proxy.’ ”
“Hold up the case.”
Yes, I’ve seen that one. I thought it was boring. I like movies better than series.
“Well, fine, then!” Dork-In-Law replied, pretending to be miffed. He rummaged around for a minute more and came up with “Steamboy.”
After much deliberation, the two nerds determined they had similar tastes in anime because their collections (aside from my Dork-In-Law’s series and some live-action stuff Uji has) are almost identical.
During this exchange, Kali switched the TV over to DVD so that she could put subtitles on “The Big Bang Theory.” Chucky proceeded to wake up and commence squalling, so Kali retrieved her, got her quiet, and passed her off to me. “You touched it last!”
Uji has a niece who’s two weeks older than Chucky, so he’s gotten over the weird, male “I’m going to break the baby” thing that most young non-fathers have. He and Chucky were a little unsure of each other at first, being as Uji’s almost entirely silent and Chucky is used to being growled at, squeaked at, pterodactyl-ed at, and in general has daily exposure to the range of noises humans are capable of.
You should hear the register her father’s voice reaches when he comes home from work and picks up the baby. It’s somewhere between Mickey Mouse and sonar.
Uji, being sensible, took my lead and mostly stuck with fart-noises, blowing the baby’s hair, sniffing in her ears, and this peculiar, low-pitched “OOOOOOOOOH” that he does, which I adore because the first time he did it, he scared the bejeezus out of me. The man knows his shock-value.
Chucky now ignores me when Uji is in the room, preferring to pull on his tight, black curls and grab at his nose and see how much of her pudgy little hand she can stick in his mouth before he pulls away with his quiet laugh.
I love your crazy family, he assures me, whenever they come up. I feel comfortable around them.
“Thank God,” I murmur aloud, conscious that he can read my lips even though I’m only signing thank you.
Now, of course, I have to meet his family…
I’m a little terrified.
What if they find out I’m really a warthog in a college-student suit?
Particularly since I’m now sporting a mohawk, courtesy of Suzy Q, which does not help my case. It does, however, look kind of badass: