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Ron Nagasawa

Driving Me Crazy

I really loved my mother-in-law. She was a kind-hearted woman who would do anything to make people happy. She was a fantastic cook, especially in the cuisine of her nationality, Portuguese. Her entire world revolved around her family, which is why they’ve always been very close even though geographically, except for my wife, they all live on the Mainland.

She and my father-in-law were a perfect match. He was also full-blooded Portuguese, so you can imagine what an awakening it was for me when I started dating their daughter. Sunday night dinner at my wife’s grandmother’s house was like walking into a KISS rock concert. The volume was ear-shattering and tongues were sticking out everywhere.

For a quiet, shy Japanese boy like me, it took some getting used to. But I would watch my father-in-law silently sitting at the kitchen table eating his dinner without a care in the world. I think he learned to tune things out, which probably preserved his marital sanity.

Lately I’ve been trying to channel that same matrimonial skill with my wife.

She has taken on her mother’s bad habit of backseat driving. I know her intentions are good, but she’s just so wound up when I’m driving that you’d think I was piloting a 747. Every time I make a stop or a car would move into my lane, her hand would go up in reflex as though she was going to high-five the air above the glove compartment.

That move would be accompanied by a verbal warning, “Ron, watch out!” or “Ron, you’re driving too fast!” Then she would start in on navigating my every mile of travel. I guess I really can’t fault her for telling me how to drive. I think she inherited those genes from her mother. Her mom would do the same thing to her dad, except multiplied in intensity by about 20,000.

I don’t know how my father-in-law tolerated it. The thing is, my mother-in-law didn’t even have a license to drive.

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