When I woke up this morning, the light outside was mingled with darkness.  It looked like there was shade everywhere, similar to when the afternoon is buregoning on dusk, but not quite yet there.  It is the first solar eclipse to be in Japan since the year 1035.  It made me feel rather sleepy.

I don’t even know where to begin of how to explain this arranged marriage meeting thing, but I suppose I should start with the Shinsetsunahitos.

The Shinsetsunahitos, if you haven’t read my blogs before, are my surrogate American parents in the Blue Forest of Japan.  They actually are friends of my family in Hawaii, as we have been neighbors for the past three generations.  They are teachers on the American military Base.  By Providence, I happen to have been placed only an hour away from them.  I spend most of my weekends with them also, since my church is ten minutes away from their house.  

Last week, while visiting with them  in their living room, they asked me if I wanted to meet their friends, a Japanese couple, who were looking for a wife for their son.  Of course, I immediately dismissed the idea for a variety of reasons, however, after they also they showed me a picture of the mom, a Japanese professional artist, who had bright blonde curly hair and was wearing a sunny yellow outfit, I kind of just wanted to meet her, because she looked like she would be a fun person. 

Out of politeness, I said that Arranged-Marriage-Boy could add me as friends on facebook, if he felt inclined to do so.  I have no problem being friends with people.  Anyway, here is an email from my surrogate parents I recieved later that week (I’m not including names or pictures for privacy reasons):

  Arranged-Marriage-Mom gave me these two pictures of her son, Arranged-Marriage-Boy.  The family picture shows Arranged-Marriage-Boy, Arranged-Marriage-Mom, Arranged-Marriage-Father, Arranged-Marriage-Sister, and her fiance from Mexico.  The other picture shows Arranged-Marriage-Boy at Hanauma Bay.
Arranged-Marriage-Boy works for Morgan Stanley in the Ebisu district of Tokyo.  He is just about your age.
This is his Facebook page: (link).
No pressure.  Arranged-Marriage-Boy just wanted me to share this with you. I sent him your Facebook page address.   Arranged-Marriage-Mom wanted you to have his phone number but I told her you would not be calling him. I told her you two can connect through Facebook and that’s the most we would do.   Have fun!

After some gentle persuasion, also partly because I thought it would be rather amusing, as well as educational about how other cultures did things, I agreed to meet Arranged-Marriage-Boy’s parents. 

My surrogate parents and I arrived at the restaurant just before Arranged-Marriage-Mom and Dad.  I had to use the restroom, and on my way out, I happened to pass the woman who was most certainly the lady from the photo I had been shown the week before.  She stopped, grabbed both my arms and looked at me and declared, “You look just like your photo! So pretty!”

I really wasn’t sure how to respond to this, I also, at this point did not realize that my photo had been shared with Arranged-Marriage-Mom.  I kind of laughed awkwardly and said, “Nice to meet you,” and darted to the bathroom, contemplating with myself on the way, what the heck had I been thinking meeting these people.

I sat down at the table, directly across from Arranged-Marriage-Mom and she started asking me a bunch of questions throughout the meal, telling me she was a very direct person and on a mission to find a “nice girl” for her son.  Her husband said little to nothing throughout the meal, but sat down with a smile on his face the whole time.

Arranged-Marriage-Mom stated that she was a straight-forward person, however when she asked me questions about myself I felt her conversation rather flowed with ease. In fact, she managed to carefully slide all the information about her family and her son in between asking me questions about myself in a rather delicate manner.  This, I thought, was a real art form of conversation.

  These questions included:

① How did you meet the Shinsetsunahitos?

My answer: Our families have lived next to each other in Hawaii, for the past three generations.  

Her response: Wow, sounds like something that was supposed to happen! Just like how we are meeting me right now.

②Do you have any brothers or sisters?  My son is very protective of his sister!

My answer: I have a younger brother and an older sister. 

③ How old are your parents?  What do they do?

My answer: 70 and 60, my dad works for Boeing and my mom is an Investigator for the government.

④Do you eat a lot?

My answer: Yes. (Seriously though, I have felt like such a pig lately…I didn’t say that of course but that day alone (not including the steak dinner I had the previous night), I had for breakfast Portugese Sausage and Cream of Wheat, with butter, cinnamon and a mocha, then chips and salsa, nabeyaki udon, a popsicle, then more chips and salsa, and of course, the dinner that we were having at that moment, which included 4 slices of pizza, gnocchi, a salad, then soft serve ice cream for dessert. OUT OF CONTROL.)

⑤Why….the Third Gate Town? What is it like, it must be kind of boring right?

My answer: I didn’t get to choose my placement.  Yes, everything pretty much closes early in my town, in fact we had a bowling alley, but it closed down.

⑤ Do you like to cook? My son loves to cook, exercise and clean!

I actually didn’t have to answer for this. My surrogate parents jumped in and told them I sometimes cook at their house.

⑥ What is your dream? (pause.) You want to travel right?

My answer: How did she know this, she must have some kind of gift of discernment or something.  I told her about how I would love to work for an NGO or IO or be a teacher with DODDs.

⑦ Do you like this shirt (She pointed to the shirt she was wearing, it was a picture of one of her pieces of artwork)?  What month is your birthday in? 

My answer: Yes, it’s very nice. I saw some of your artwork, it was beautiful. My birthday is in November.

Her response: Okay! I am going to give you an early birthday present. I’ll give you one of my shirts.

⑧ How tall are you?

My answer: 5’6.

Her response: My son is taller than you.  But everyone seems the same height because everyone is taller than me. (Which is true, this lady is like super petite).

⑧ So, what day is your birthday? My daughter’s November 6th.  

My answer: Umm..My birthday is November 6th.

(When I answered this, there was a kind of collective gasp at the table and her eyes kind of lit up, and I could already see the wheels turning in her head.   This also kind of reminded me of the time when one of my friends told me that her ex and her had met a few months later in public and they were wearing the exact same outfit, down to the shoes.  His eyes widdened and he looked at her and she said tersely, “This means nothing.”)

After the questioning, she leaned closer to me and grabbed a spoon and a napkin holder and went, “This spoon is friendship, and this napkin holder is boyfriend and girlfriend. See this space in the middle between the spoon and this napkin holder?  I want you to be in the middle. Do you think you can be in the middle? You should meet up with my son in Tokyo.”

I am about 98% certain I responded to this with mild laughter as well as, “I will be his friend.”  Mr. Shinsetsunahito, my surrogate dad, interrupted from across the table, “Arranged-Marriage-Mom, are you behaving yourself?”

“Yes, Computer-teacher!”

I should also mention that he is her computer teacher.  At the beginning of the meal, she told me, “I am afraid of computers.  Once, I touched a button and erased everything, so now your surrogate dad is my teacher.”

We were at the restaurant for about 2 to 3 hours, and I don’t remember all the questions she asked me, but I found the experience very educational, and I can totally see the value of arranged marriages in other countries now.  Not that I agree with forcing someone to be married, but for parents arranging the possibility of a meeting, I think, is actually not a horrible thing.  Not that I am going to date her son, ( in fact, I am 99.9% certain I will not be dating him.)  

Last question from Arranged-Marriage-Mom: You didn’t hate me right?

I answered with a smile and laugh: Of course not.