(Title – 両親に会う – Ryōshin ni Au – Meet the Parents)
It was almost 6 in the evening when we reached my house. I was so excited to introduce my friends to my family. Ryū, Ken, and Ki-kun are looking forward to meeting them too.
Ki-kun parked the car in front of our house. It’s a good thing that I texted my dad earlier that we would be visiting. He was waiting patiently for us in front of the house.
I got out of the car first and ran like a small kid toward my dad. “Otōsan, tadaima,” I greeted my father with a smile on my face.
( 「お父さん、ただいま！」means “Dad, I’m home.”)
“Okaeri,” he smiled back. “Looks like you brought some friends with you.”
( 「おかえり」 means “Welcome back.”)
Ryū was standing beside me. He was so swift; I didn’t know that he was even there.
“Ishikawa no Otōsan, Konbanwa!” he bowed down to my dad formally and gave him a flashy smile.
( 「石河のお父さん、こんばんわ！」means “Good evening Ishikawa’s dad!”)
My face became distorted. I don’t actually know how to react. This was the first time that I saw this guy being so courteous. It’s pretty obvious that he’s trying to make a good impression. 😑
“My name is Ueno, Ryū Ueno. Please feel free to call me Ryū. I’m your son’s best friend,” he introduced as he shook my dad’s hand.
“Oho, I never knew that my son would be friends with a good looking guy like you. I’m pleased to meet you, Ryū-kun,” my dad said.
“Eh~~?” I was dumbfounded. Since when did we become best friends? What’s wrong with being friends with someone who’s good looking? I just shook my head out of disbelief.
Ryū was on my left side, still shaking my dad’s hand. Then another popped out on my right.
“Ishikawa no Otōsan, Konnichiwa! My name is Naoki. Naoki Sakaguchi. Your son’s REAL best friend,” he greeted as he shook my dad’s other hand.
“Oho! My son already has two best friends. I didn’t know that he could make two friends at the same time,” my dad said as he chuckled. “And who might you be?” He added while glancing at the guy behind me. The other two were still shaking his hands.
“Yo, Ichigo-chichi! The name’s Ken Hirano. I’m Ryū’s best friend,” Ken said while giving my dad a salute. He then smirked just like the cool guy he is.
( 「苺父」means “strawberry father. This is because Kichirō loves strawberries. Ken was casually speaking here. Take note that 父 or ちち is different with 乳 which is is pronounced the same way. 乳 can mean “milk” or “boobs.”)
“Ha ha ha! I’m getting confused about your relationships. Let’s just say that you are all my son’s friends,” my dad chuckled. “Why is my son the only one who’s not good looking?” he mumbled to himself.
“Dad! I heard you,” I pouted with my arms crossed.
“Oho ho ho!” he just laughed. “Come on in everyone. Your mom has been waiting for you.”
I just did a face-palm and shook my head. I’m still feeling a bit unwell because of my hangover but I need to look healthy. I don’t want my parents to find out that I drank sake.
I followed my dad as he headed for our front door. The other three goofballs followed my lead. “It’s not much guys but please make yourself at home,” I said as I let them in my house. We removed our shoes upon entering and I gave them their own pair of slippers.
Our house was just a typical kyōmachiya. It’s actually an ancestral house. Once you enter the front door, you will see a hallway. On the right is my dad’s office. Up ahead is the flight of stairs going to the second floor. We just live as a humble family in a rural community.
( 京町家 or 京町屋 means “Machiya in Kyoto.” These are traditional wooden townhouses found throughout Japan and typified in the historical capital of Kyoto.)
“Hey, Kichi. I like your house. It’s small… erm… but it’s warm,” Ken said as he look around.
“Shut up Ken. Don’t say anything to hurt his feelings,” Ryū said as he gritted his teeth and furrowed his brows.
“Hey, man. I didn’t mean anything about that,” Ken raised his hands as a sign that he surrenders. “I was genuine when I said that,” he added as he forced a smile.
“It’s no big deal, Ryū. I didn’t find Ken rude,” I explained.
He just sighed and nodded.
I followed my dad toward the living room. We went passed the entrance to the tea ceremony room and the kitchen.
“Ooh Aniki, you have a tea ceremony room? Can we stay here instead?” Ki-kun said.
“We can stay there later. My mom would get angry if we use that room for hanging out. I’ll ask for permission from my mom first,” I answered.
He nodded in response.
“Let’s wait for your mom. She’s in the kitchen preparing something for you and your friends,” Dad said as he sat down on the sofa.
The others sat down on the sofa and started to look around.
“Hey, Kichi. What’s that altar thingy full of medals and trophies?” Ken curiously asked.
“Uhm, those are mine. I got them from school,” I shyly responded. I covered my face with my hands because I felt awkward. My mom loves to boast to our guests that I’ve had many awards in the past so she decorated our living room with them.
Ken looked amazed after hearing that. “Wow! You’re a perfect match to Ryū here. You know well that he’s consistent with being the top 1 in our year level.”
“Oh, so you’re not from the same year level? How did you guys become friends?” my dad asked. Looks like I got my curiosity from him. Ha ha.
“Uhm… that –” I don’t actually know how to explain it.
“And you all look tall and good-looking. How did my son befriend you?” He asked again.
Ken stood up from where he was seated and started to explain how we became friends. He looked so excited about explaining it. “Oh! You see. Ichigo-chichi, Ryū here lik—”
When he was about to finish what he was saying, Ryū hurriedly covered Ken’s mouth and locked his arm around his neck. Ken struggled as if he couldn’t breath. He was trying to get Ryū’s arm off him.
“Please let me explain, sir. Ken, Naoki, and I are from our school’s basketball team. Your son is our assistant manager,” he looked so serious that my dad would obviously believe him.
My dad nodded while he touched his chin. “It all makes sense now. Wow, son. You’ve really changed a lot. Back in your senior high years, you never joined any extracurricular activities nor did you befriend anyone. Your mom and I were worried that you wouldn’t recover from what happened in the past.”
I just forced a smile. What is he talking about? Me? An assistant manager? Ha ha!
“If you don’t mind me asking, what happened to him in the past?” Ryū pried.
“Oho! Ask him. Not me,” my dad laughed.
I immediately felt awkward so I stood up. I took two steps away from them. I stopped and then looked back. “I’ll… Uhm… I’ll just help mom,” I said while I scratched the back of my head. I wasn’t really comfortable about discussing that particular topic. I’m not yet ready.
Everyone just smiled and continued chatting.
While I was about to leave the living-dining room, someone leapt on my back. “Oniisan! Why are you here?” It was my younger brother, Shūichirō.
( 「お兄さん」 means “big brother.” It is the normal polite term for an older brother. Aniki has the same meaning, but it is only used by a younger brother. It is not impolite but gives a “rougher” connotation. Aniki is also used in yakuza to refer to a more senior yakuza member.)
“Ouch! Get off me. You’re heavy!” I yelled.
“Ha ha! I just missed you. Soo~~~ who among them is your boyfriend?” He asked while chuckling. “Whoever it is, you should break up with him. You don’t know how to cook or how to do any household chores. Ha ha!”
My body froze into a big ice cube, as if I was dipped naked in the Arctic Ocean. “Ano… ano sa…” I couldn’t talk at all.
Everybody laughed when they heard my brother.
“So this is your brother, Kichi? You never mentioned that you have a funny brother, ha ha,” Ken held on his tummy while laughing. “Hey, kid. What’s your name?”
“My name is Shūichirō, O-JI-SAN,” he grinned.
Ken was flabbergasted when my brother called him Ojisan. “What did this punk just called me?” His brows were furrowed while asking Ki-kun in disbelief.
“He called you ojisan, O-JI-SAN,” Ki-kun sarcastically remarked.
Ken literally broke into small pieces just like a character in an anime series.
Everyone heartily laughed. I held onto my stomach because it was aching from too much laughing; at the same time, aching because of my hangover.
Someone then cleared her throat.
Everyone suddenly stopped laughing. It was so quiet, you could hear the sound of a pin drop.
It was my mom.