Thursday, September 25, 2008

Post 100!! A Noisy Story!

Hey there citizens!

I’ve tried to keep this blog a happy place, a nice & neat rational place with lots of happy-making food with only the occasional splat here & there. I try to be positive & impartial to all food groups, even mayonnaise. I don’t particularly care for blog ranting and don’t think I’d be good at it anyway.

The other day something rather unexpected happened to me & I felt immediately compelled to rant, rave, draw a huge cyber-crowd & grab my handy dandy megaphone & “flip out” good & proper! But of course….first I had to shower a certain individual who pooped an alarming colored poop (but we won’t talk about that) and somehow I lost the immediate incentive, so now that I’m all good & calm I figure I’ll just tell you all about it.

Pull up a chair, tune up the violins & cellos. Cuz’ you’re about to hear the tale of Lawyer boy.

So there’s this neighbor (yeah, you know where this is going)…actually there’s this family of neighbors. We like to refer to them as: the Father, Son & Holy something or the other. They are an elderly retired couple with their 30 something yr old son. We live roughly about 5 feet away from them.

After about a year of living here, one day they rang the door bell, DH was greeted with the whole group of them in a nice neat row. (excusing themselves for living….yada yada yaaa….this is Japan, remember?) and the point is…our kids are very loud. And they have been being bugged for one year and can’t stand it any longer, they must complain! Of course we reciprocate sorry-ness, “you should have come sooner. We’ll try harder, if there’s ever a problem please do come & let us know. Etc etc..” (bad move)

(A few days later DING DONG!!) All 3 come in a nice neat row: “Late last night (10:00) some large kid (a 1 year old girl) was doing jump-rope (walking around)…..Much too late, please try harder…” They go on to explain that their son (standing in the front, & looking as solemn as ever) is studying to be a lawyer & goes to bed at 9:00 so could we please be more quiet? Of course, we are again deeply sorry and say we will try to be quite from 9:00 on.

I must add here that it’s not the fact that they come over that is disturbing, it’s just the nature in which they do it. All three…always either the father or son heading up the attack standing nearest to our door with the other two in the rear for support, (always somewhat nervous & awkward in their delivery) each chiming in additions to the others commentary, till you’re not sure who to aim your responses toward. And at times reaching a rather confusing crescendo of all three talking at once in the hopes of making it VERY clear that our house echoes terribly & our children are the loudest children in the entire prefecture. Do you get the picture? They’ve even called the Landlord who lives in Canada over it…..oh, brother!

NOTE: Our house is (unlike most Japanese houses) mostly wooden flooring & somehow from the outside it seems very hollow & you can hear the low sounds pretty good. (running, chairs skidding etc..) We are at a disadvantage in that….we have children, & as anyone who has children knows they have the shock absorbers of an elephant. And one happy 4 year old boy can sound like the equivalent of 5 angry men charging down the stairs.

Each time this happens, DH & I search our souls & try with all our might to transform each child’s shlumpy footstep a princess tip-toe walk. We bar running, jumping, and being happy in general. We try to explain that there are some neighbors who should have chosen to live on an island off of Hokkaido but instead live next door. We even give the son a cute, happy sounding name. “Lawyer-boy” we call him. We even try to remind the kids at 8:30 (which is un-officially “silent-mode” time) that Lawyer boy is also getting into his possibly poka dot PJ’s, slipping into his Doraimon night slippers & brushing his teeth with his Anpan-man toothbrush. But for all our heart felt attempts, eventually time dims the seriousness of the situation & our children AGAIN….behave as children.

The other day it was the 3rd rainy day in a row & the 2nd day I was home alone w/ the kids trying to keep them from bunge jumping off the balcony in an explosion of energy. Ryan & Travis started a game of indoor basket ball with a little mini hoop & a couple of soft balls and Lani joined in. I was having too much fun watching them get happy, sweaty & crazy to stop them so I let them duke it out for about 20 min or so. After that all except Travis died of exhaustion and they all sat down to watch a documentary. And what do you know while I’m trying to put down Mr. Bunter. for a nappy nap….DING DONG! DING DONG! DING DONG! (and just in case I was trying to ignore them) DING DONG!!!

Lawyer boy in the lead (& his mother taking up the rear) has a pen & paper & has a rather strange look on his face which after much thought I have concluded was from an excessive amount of repressed anger. And here’s how it went

“Are you the wife?”
“Are you sure?”
“How many kids do you have”
“6? Really? That’s all?”
“That’s all” (isn’t that enough?)
“How old are they?”
“Why is that?”
“I just want to know”
“Well, they are from ages 10 to this guy” (I was holding the baby)
“Are you sure there aren’t a whole lot more LITTLE kids?”
(Attempting not to loose too much of my non-existent cool)”No, they’re really ten down to zero”
”Would you like to see their birth certificates?”
“No, that’s fine. But there were 8 kids here this month, I counted.”
“Yes, friends came to visit for 2 days”
“And you only have 6?”
“………………….(wondering where this is REALLY going)

I do feel a certain amount of empathy, after all he IS wanting to be a lawyer. He probably was really excited about this great opportunity to practice gathering evidence to prosecute the noisy children next door.

I tried to explain that they were playing rowdy for a little while cuz’ it was raining. I was told that NORMAL Japanese children know that rainy days are for sitting & reading & being quiet. (I wanted to bring out Travis…..) And further more if we were normal we’d have our children in school & they wouldn’t be in the house.

Well, I won’t bother with the rest of it but there was one main theme & that was that he was NOT happy. And he repeated again & again that if we didn’t get our kids to be quiet that “there would be trouble”. He said this as his “closing line” two times in a row while staring blankly at me and pausing a few seconds each time for effect (or perhaps it was some other lawyer tactic I’m unaware of). I’m not sure what he was expecting me to say cuz’ all I could muster was a sort of “teeth-gritting” “Wakarimashta!”. (I take it back, I DO know what he expected me to say but it involves something similar to a scene in a Samurai Movie) And Lawyer boy’s mommy even had to tug on his shirt to get him to back off & go home.

Of course that was disturbing for us to realize that we had upset them all so greatly so later dear brave husband who was a few levels calmer than I was went over (with his own notebook & pen) to talk to them & find out what he meant by “trouble”. Were we in danger having a couple of his lawyer buddies come and beat us with their notebooks? He begrudgingly admitted that he may have spoken too strongly as he was very “emotional”. (You think?) Knight in shining armor husband, was able to talk with the happy family & hopefully we’ll get on their better side. (by gluing all our kids to their chairs)

I’m better now & though I was thoroughly livid & insulted on so many levels. On the subject of large families, on the subject of choosing home schooling, etc etc… I do have to admit that we are rather unusual bunch of gaijins living next door. And if nothing else when we move from this place (sooner rather than later) we hope to live further from our neighbors. Since then I’ve seen Lawyer boy walking along with his back pack tightly strapped on his back & I admit I didn’t smile at him per se. But he couldn’t even bring himself to look at me & all my little hooligans in the eye. I almost wanted to stop the kids & line them up in front of him & say. “Dozo, goran kudai sai…..yappari rokunin imasu ne?”

Thus ends my tale of Lawyer boy and his happy house hold next door. And pray in earnest (as I do) that he will find a hobby/girlfriend/happy place & move out from his mommy & daddy’s house. Till then, we will think happy thoughts towards him & tread softly!


Shigeru said...

Oh, I know all about noise. We live in a 'mansion'(code for a properly built apartment building as opposed to the cardboard kind) and it was wonderful for the first year. This was because we had no one living next door. And we live on the corner. Then people moved in next door around a year and a half ago, and the trouble started.

There are alot of families living in these buildings so we are awakened every morning with the sounds of stomping and screaming. Mostly, parents yelling at their kids and calling them obscene names. It's really quite ugly, and I'm serious, they yell at their kids all the time. Anyway, no one complains about that. Problem is, we're the only people in the building that are actually awake past 9 at night. And we do things like, sometimes have friends over for dinner, and watch TV, and oh my god yes, HAVE SEX.

This does not go over well with other people in the building seeing as it reminds them of a time when yes, they had lives, and HAD SEX WITH SOMEONE OTHER THAN THEMSELVES. So I keep having to talk to my landlord.

So yes, I want to move somewhere where my neighbor can't here my wife screaming, and where I don't have to hear the kids upstairs and the dog next door barking all day.

Maybe we should just be neighbors. We can make all the noise we want be happy about it!

Elaina said...

"...Lawyer boy is also getting into his possibly poka dot PJ’s, slipping into his Doraimon night slippers & brushing his teeth with his Anpan-man toothbrush..."

Too good! Too good!!

Anonymous said...

It's crazy, because I can identify with both parties in the story. A few years ago I was the single who wondered why those moms couldn't get their spawn under control, and now having one of my own I realize how out of touch those "singles" are.

Your hubby should have asked him questions about the polka dot pajamas and his slippers and his bed-time routine and then said, "aren't you aware that NORMAL students have a night life that does not involve their parents?"

...and what is “Dozo, goran kudai sai…..yappari rokunin imasu ne?”

Sorry... I'm a stalker. I love your blog and recipes. Especially the ramen noodle one :D

whacky said...

lol! What a perfectly hillarious (yet tragic) story!! It cracked me up - though you do have my sympathies.

I highly recommend that next time you meet "lawyer-boy" you enact your desires to line the kids up and have them say, "Dozo, goran kudai sai…..yappari rokunin imasu ne?”

Then be sure to blog about his next visit to your house :-P

Florence said...

Ohhhh Heaven. Japan and its neighbors. They're everywhere, aren't they. At least you don't live on a hill (so they can't roll your...yah.)
I think you should have a visitor answer the door and look really confused and say "Excuse me? I'm very confused. I don't understand. Children? Who?"

Junior said...

I reckon that guy was the rudest guy ever to knock on your door and whip out his little note book, and on top of it to have all those questions, gee. He should realize that he was annoying as any other little angel when he was young and get a life and move the hell out of his parents house, I can't believe it he's 30.

Babylove said...

Shiggs: Did someone actually complain about youes? That's ungodly! If you don't complain about us we won't complain about you? :)

Anon: Happy to have you stalk away! The Jap just means, "Will you take a look at that? There are 6 of them aren't there?"

Flojo: You know in all our hearts we'd love to, but we'll smile & appologize, for that is the way!

Jr: Come on over, maybe we'll send you over there next time. CLASSIC!! That's what we should do!

Junior said...

Haha! That would be funny. I'd love it. I really should get my bum over there. I haven't been to your place or Bayside so that would really be nice, I'll make myself useful I promise.

Kari said...

I admire you, I don't think I could stay calm with that kind of questioning.
Oh, we were the visitors weren't we! Must have pushed him over the edge.
It's kind of creepy the whole staring and blinking thing... sounds like he was close to snapping.

Probably anyone who lives in the city or suburbia in Japan has stories about their neighbors. Japanese are almost religious about their love for quiet. I reckon it comes from living so close together in such small spaces for so long.

Nina said...

I feel for u, Ali. And I'll be praying for the situation. I think Josh was wise in going over there to get things clarified, & I admire u for "loving your neighbor," tho' I'm sure it must be difficult to do.

Did u hear the story about the TNT neighbor? I know you're familiar w/ what his gripes were, but I wonder if u ever heard the end of the story. It happened during the AIP celebration when I was helping w/ the kidz, & that testimony has encouraged me since then, & given me hope that even "Mr. Happy" can one day be synonymous w/ his pet name.

Junior said...

Nina, I really want to know the story, tell it to me some time, k? Love you.

nina said...

Junior, I most certainly will if u remind me when I see u, hopefully not too far off in the distant future. Thanx for your genuine interest in the story. I actually was gonna try to tell Ali sometime tonight, but between excited children exclaiming about b'day presents & showing me their spectacular handwork, & older, um, ppl jabbering away, it was hard to get a word in edgewise, haha!