The Friday night barbecue, that shook the night, life continues as a foreigner in Japan
My wife was scheduled to arrive home after a tough day, no details necessary, we all face the demands of modern life, her challenges were my motivation to prepare an Excellent dinner.
Please understand, this wasn’t our first barbecue at our house in Kawasaki, and let me promise you, it won’t be the last. To date, it was undoubtedly, the most memorable.
I lit the coals, waited for them to burn to BBQ friendly white/red, attached the grill, and started throwing on the steaks, pork chops, and hamburger patties. My wife arrived home, opened our balcony door for a quick second, we connected, and she started making salads.
This might sound like a typical evening to most families, but normalcy came to a grinding halt, when the Kawasaki City Fire Trucks ripped down our little side street, stopped, secured the area, pulled out hoses, and were ultimately disappointed to find me, flipping burgers. (This happens in Kawasaki, not often, but the authorities act on emergency phone calls.)
The firemen assessed the situation and returned to their station without much hesitation or further invasion, but the Kawasaki police department followed by knocking on our door several times, to confirm the obvious.
We exchanged identification, and they asked difficult questions, for example, “what’s your date of birth?” This was followed by, "how old is he?” My wife encouraged the members of Kawasaki’s finest to purchase and launch the calculator technologies available in Japan. (Note, lighting a BBQ, and grilling meat on one's property, is not a crime in Kawasaki.)
I was proud of my wife when she reversed roles and asked, “would you ask a Japanese man about his occupation, would you be so rude to ask a Japanese man to enter his house without a warrant, would you ask a Japanese man where he’s from?”
It was also gratifying for the extra time allowed by my wife's public stand, to complete flipping the hamburgers. Now let’s be exact, they are Bubba burgers original patties, imported from the USA, and they are delicious.
The party was ruined, or at least dampened, and our energy was drained. In retrospect, the event was humorous, offering an opportunity for a family to stand tall, together, in our community. We've lived in this tiny neighborhood in Kawasaki for ten years, and every good neighbor we know, found the situation humorous, giving us thumbs up.
The world's not a perfect place, but it's sometimes unsettling to be reminded of your station in society, specifically as a visible foreigner.