Monday, February 14, 2005

Valentine’s Weekend Part the First: In Which Thumper Punishes Me for My Crimes Against Machinery, and I Miss My First Pre-Marital Counselling Session

A Picture of Desolation: An Empty Ferry Dock, an Empty Parking Lot, and an Empty Thumper with the Doors Locked and the Engines Running

This was my big Valentines weekend with Yuko and her family in Sapporo. I was to arrive in Sapporo at noon on Friday, attend the first in a series of premarital counselling sessions with Yuko, and have dinner with my future in-laws. However, it was my destiny to find myself in the situation described under the photo above. Naturally, my first option was to call JAF (Japan Automobile Federation) in order to milk some more service out of my annual membership fee. However, it turns out that JAF only has one representative in Oma, and that he evidently isn’t on duty at half-past-seven in the morning on holidays. Nor is my own JAF-representing mechanic back in Kazamaura. Heck, he could have walked across the street to my house and picked up the spare car key off my book cabinet before coming over to render me my JAF service. Unfortunately he didn’t even answer his home phone. I also thought about phoning my supervisor to ask him to pick up my key and make the ten minute drive to Oma to bring it to me but decided that that would be an un-politic thing to do before breakfast time on Constitution Day. So I had the ferry terminal manager call a local service station. They were willing to try prying Thumper open for three thousand yen—but not until nine o’clock. In the end I phoned up the Oma taxi company and asked them, since I was making a round trip, if they would drive me home and back for the regular rate instead of the out of town double-rate. The lady on the phone left me with the impression that the answer was yes, but I neglected to confirm the matter with the driver and ended up paying five thousand yen for the twenty minute taxi ride. I am used to setbacks of this nature, but it really struck home this time that when Yuko marries me she will also be marrying my (self-inflicted?!) setbacks . . . . Happily for me, she readily forgave all and had a good time without me at our premarital counselling session with Pastor Yahiro and his wife. . . this time . . . . But I shall always make a point of riding out my setbacks like a seagull in the surf.

As I often do when in distress, I went home and made pancakes. I think this habit has something to do with ancient memories of Roy and Almanzo Wilder frying pancakes in The Long Winter while the rest of their South Dakota town starved. That scene remembered from my family’s bedtime reading sessions has always given me a cozy feeling.