Busy Weekend

Saturday was L's birthday and he requested a chocolate and ice cream cake shaped like a cartoon character, Doraemon. I managed to do most of the preparations the day before, as I was downstairs at the monthly building committee meeting all morning and we went out to the "family" restaurant a few blocks away for lunch. We were grateful for the arctic blast of air-conditioning in the restaurant and managed to stretch lunch into two comfortable hours before returning to our sweltering apartment for the Doraemon cake. We made sure to set the table and get the video and camera out before removing the cake from the freezer, hurriedly sticking six candles on and singing a rush job of "Happy Birthday" before the face melted. Halfway through eating the cake, we realized we'd forgotten to take a photo of the masterpiece.

Saturday evening was the building's annual summer party. I cycled around late in the afternoon picking up food we'd ordered (sandwiches from the bakery and 100 sticks of yakitori from a poultry specialty shop halfway to the next station) while the less mobile committee members boiled and salted edamame (green soy beans) and waited for the sushi, beer and chilled watermelon to be delivered by the respective neighborhood vendors. The men from our new building management company helped set up the desks from our meeting room in the entrance lobby and about 40 of us enjoyed dinner and beer from 6 to 8 p.m. Promptly at 8, the chairman announced that the beer was gone and thanked everyone for attending. I sent the kids upstairs so I could help clean up, but there were enough people helping that I didn't have to do too much. We divided the leftovers so S had a few extra dishes with his beer when he returned from classes after 10.

Sunday was an elementary school parents' association softball tournament. S was asked to join our school's team and he agreed to play if they couldn't find enough players. He had assumed that he had sounded non-committal enough to be left off the team, but it seems that they needed him. A neighbor who organizes our school team each year called him last week with details and told him that they really needed him. He said it was a casual competition among 5 schools and that no special equipment would be necessary but to please wear long pants and a hat and bring a glove if we had one. S decided that his judo pants would be acceptable and easier for him to move around in, but he did get serious about other gear. He borrowed a bat and some gloves from the construction company laboratory where he does consulting work and he went shopping for a few extra knee and elbow supporters. The kids were having fun trying them on and walking around like robots. S looked a little embarrassed when L appeared with a jock strap over his head like a professional wrestler's mask.

I mentioned a batting center not far from here and S went a few times to get some practice swinging at baseballs pitched by a machine for a couple of dollars a bucket. He also had the kids throw balls to him in the park to practice chasing and retrieving. I think the practice helped him acclimate, he wasn't in terrible condition after pitching morning game, umpiring another game and then playing second base and catcher in an afternoon game while we and two other families braved the heat and cheered the team on. I was responsible for buying the team lunches; onigiri (rice balls), pumpkin, square omelets, pickles and cherry tomatoes.

The principal watched the morning game and the vice principal stopped by for the afternoon game. The team played well for never having practiced together and managed to maintain leads through the top of the last inning. Unfortunately, the opposing teams managed to get a home run with bases loaded in the bottom of the last inning and our team lost both games. S was preparing to decline the team invitation to go out with some of the wives and children to a bar for dinner and cold beer and 6:00 but when I told him I'd take his Sunday evening classes, he was happy to accept and told me to come to the bar after the last student left at 8:30. He and the children were enjoying themselves when I arrived just in time for a few beers and a brilliant green cocktail which had chunks of kiwi fruit floating in it. J said that they had to order lots of squid because the children (mostly ours) kept eating the platters of grilled whole squid as they arrived and the food never made it to the adult table. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the day and evening out in spite of the heat and humidity.

I washed the orange school team uniform T-shirt that S borrowed and the aforementioned supporters and have them ready for the next half of the tournament on Sept. 19, a holiday.