IMR: 1999: August: 18 —  Wednesday, 10:31 p.m.
Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i

It's the birth-day that never ends,
It just goes on and on, my friend...

Stretching her Friday the 13th to the limit, Jen (birthday girl emeritus) treated herself to a girl's night out tonight with Tina. The GMT movie passes that Jen got as gifts were burning a hole in her pocket, so while Katie joined me on a mid-week drive to Mililani, the moms went to Kahala Mall to catch "The Sixth Sense."

Katie, as usual, had a blast at mom's, rummaging through her toys with glee and pushing the big wheeled ottoman around the living room.

Once again, I marveled at how well she and Uncle Todd get along. (One's prone to suggest it's a similarity of temperament.) Both mom and I got a chance to catch our breath while my brother handled Katie's entertainment. At times it seemed as if the two of them were having such interesting conversations, with Katie babbling up a storm and gesturing wildly.

But most intriguing was precisely how much Todd could get away with in terms of defying and annoying her.

Katie would bring a book to Todd, for example, and he'd simply refuse to read it. "Uh oh," Mom and I — long trained to unquestioningly do her bidding — would warn, "You better read it to her." But he'd just keep putting it down or spinning it on top of her head.

Eventually, unbelievably, Katie would just give up on the book and move on.

Or Katie would lead Todd up the stairs, clearly with the expectation that Todd would carry her back down. But while she stood, arms outstretched and mumbling in mild frustration, Todd would just shake his head and explain that it was dangerous.

Eventually, unbelievably, Katie would just turn around, lie down, and back down the steps herself.

Mom and I were stunned. Both that Todd would dare to defy the Grand Empress, and that she would just give up instead of punishing the boy for his impudence. We figured Katie was just chalking it up to incompetence, not defiance.

"So be it," she must have thought, "This peasant clearly has yet to be been trained in The Way of Katie."

Before we took off for Mililani, mom and I paid a quick visit to the Schumann Carriage Co. dealership on Beretania to look at a couple of cars.

With grandma's car now officially declared a total loss, the mission to replace it has quickly consumed the family. Grandma immediately and rightfully turned to dad for guidance, who has an impressive track record when it comes to navigating the world of automobiles.

In the day or so he's been on the case, dad had already tracked down a pair of candidates that fit the bill. A Buick Century and a Subaru Forester, both 1998 models and both dealer demos. All the specs were already faxed over, and the prices already negotiated down a fair amount.

Our task was simply to visit the lot and photograph the cars for grandma's official consideration.

[ Cruising ]The poor salesman was obviously somewhat uncomfortable with how matter-of-factly we'd arrived and just started taking pictures. He seemed unconvinced even after we explained our bizzare "car shopping by proxy" arrangement.

The Buick seemed a good match, but the Forester was standard-shift and, frankly, didn't exactly match grandma's style.

Upon review, grandma agreed on both points, but I suspect the hunt isn't over yet.

I'm impressed with her willingness to make a seemingly major decision based only on second-hand information, but I subscribe to the belief that after you've survived this world for a certain length of time, you've earned the right to do whatever the hell you want.

Indeed, she seems most concerned that her new chariot be blue and have remote keyless entry and trunk access. Oh, and no imports.

"You know, Ryan," dad later pointed out, "Buying a car is 40 percent reason, 60 percent emotion."

So of course he must, deep down, understand why I'm still happy I sold the reasonable 1991 Ford he'd found for me so I could buy a quirky 1984 Nissan.

Tomorrow we have a 6 p.m. appointment to look over drafts of life insurance policies for Jen and I.

Serious bachi scare, I know. Just like turning 25 — and becoming a husband and father, for that matter — life insurance falls square in the middle of that category of things I never thought I'd have to deal with. But in our preliminary meetings, where we somberly discussed various scenarios and amounts of coverage, its importance became clear.

Not that the insurance guy scared us or anything. I'm a harsh critic of people and motives, but he's been surprisingly patient and reasonable. (Especially since we've been dragging the process out for almost three months now.) We're just coming to terms with the more serious aspects of "real life," and especially being a family.

I don't care if my funeral is held at McDonald's. I don't care if my ashes are just dumped at the base of a tree at the curb. Katie will be fed, educated, and kept comfortable for as long as possible.

© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 18 August 1999 · Last Modified: 19 August 1999