A few weeks ago, I woke up in a panic.
There’s nothing like waking up and seeing “City Hall” and a voicemail on your phone first thing in the morning.
My first thought was, “Great. What did I do now?” as I mentally tried to search my brain for a civic report I had written that week. It had been a few days, so I was dumbfounded. Usually, no one waits around a few days to point out a mistake or voice their opinion around these parts.
So I called back as soon as I could and spoke with the City Hall clerk Sue Knight, who managed to leave the most ambiguous yet terrifying voicemail of all time — a voicemail with no details and a dash of polite urgency.
The kind of voicemail that strikes the fear of God if you don’t return the message type of voicemail.
Anyhow, Mrs. Knight has a memory like an elephant and had recalled a passing sentiment I had uttered several years earlier.
Note to self: do not utter things in passing in Mrs. Knight’s presence.
Anyways, she had remembered that I had thought hosting a Japanese student from Troy’s sister city, Takahashi City, Japan, may be a neat experience.
I guess I’ll let you all know how it turns out next week.
The Takahashi City students and school delegation are set to arrive shortly before midnight Friday evening.
Our student is named Yuu Fukukawa. He is 14.We’ve been pronouncing his name like “You” and trust me, Evan has every pun under the sun in play with our visitor’s name.
We’ve been exchanging emails back and forth with his family over the last two weeks. At first I thought Yuu enjoyed tennis, like Roger Federer-style tennis. It took quite awhile to realize that the tennis our student enjoys is called “soft tennis” or what we like to call ping-pong.
This could turnout to be a comedy of errors for everyone involved. I guess that’s half the fun, though.
I probably would have spent more time asking his family about themselves, except I was furiously cleaning my house from top to bottom.
Seriously, my home has never been cleaner. I mean, this kid is coming from the country that inspired “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” In their eyes, I’d be a candidate from “Hoarders: Country Style.” My housekeeping book would be entitled, “How to not let anything go: If you throw out your son’s camp art made of sticks you are a horrible mother and other junk I can’t part with due to guilt.” (I’m still trying to pare that title down.)
Anyhow, my main concern is hosting this teenage boy and trying to keep him fed in a foreign land. We all know my son is a picky eater. He lives off popcorn and toast (no butter). He would starve if he was to travel outside of the country. That actually might not be a bad idea now that I think about it. Anyways, I spent a lot of time trying to fill the refrigerator up with universal foods and drinks to ease my conscience.
I was thankful for the many emails from Mrs. Knight on how to host these kids. I stocked up on fruit and Gatorade as well as green tea in case he didn’t like my Southern-style sweet tea that I make myself.
I also bought red grapes if only for my amusement. Mrs. Knight happened to share that the Japanese children peel their grapes. I figured I had to check out this revelation in the fruit world. Plus, I’ve never seen anyone peel a grape. This I had to see for myself. This kid will go back with the notion: Americans like to watch us eat grapes and they spend a lot of time walking sheep in circles.
All in all, I’m quite honored to have been asked to host one of these children during their very brief stay here in Troy, Ohio, U.S.A. I know we’ll have a great time and it’ll be something my family and I will talk about for years to come.
“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News. Arigato, Mr. Roboto.