It’s Tuesday night and Dad’s got you in the ‘09 Mustang for a classic parent/adult child of divorce tradition—that’s right, a little something called a sushi boat for two at Toshi’s Sashimi House.
The night drive reverberates as The Who blasts through your dad’s aftermarket Bose stereos. You can barely contain your excitement for unagi, shrimp nigiri, and tuna maki. Will you use the wasabi tonight? Should you use the wasabi tonight? The ginger? We’ll see. Thoughts like this race through your mind until they’re stopped suddenly by a brick wall of dread. Dear God, you beg, please don’t let my dad bow at every Asian person in the fucking restaurant again.
He may mean well, but your dad has gotta stop doing this. Not only for the good folks at Toshi’s, but for your socially-conscious millennial sanity. At this point you'd rather a meet and greet with a weeaboo's waifu pillow than allow this madness continue. Sushi night should be about good times with raw fish, not subtle apologies and eye rolls so hard you strain your neck to pull them off.
Use these tips to ensure your next night at Toshi’s is one to honor.
1. Use the restaurant environment to limit his interactions with staff.
The best solution is usually the simplest. Your dad cannot bow at people he doesn’t get to talk to.
Entering Toshi’s, guests are greeted by a beautiful aquarium filled with giant koi. Over the past six months, your dad spent an average of 23.6 seconds admiring the fish tank, just enough time for you to jog to the host counter and request a table for two before he gets a chance to approach the hostess with a bow. Timed correctly, you should be able to secure seats at a table before your dad finishes commenting on how nervous the fish in the tank look, his classic riff.
2. Question his credibility.
You’re proud that your dad has spent many years studying martial arts, but just as his master’s in business from DeVry University doesn’t make him a CEO, neither does his black belt in aikido from the Fort Lauderdale Martial Arts Academy make him a part of the Asian community.
An effective exercise is to point out that he can’t claim knowledge of Japanese culture and also butcher the pronunciation of everything on the menu. You may find it helpful to order your dad’s California rolls for him.
3. Lay off the sake sensei.
Sake is a fermented rice wine traditionally sipped with meals, during which your dad usually has three bottles. Though you are no expert at biology, you’ve ascertained that your dad gets real loose halfway through his second bottle and reaches peak bowing potential (PBP) at the beginning of the third.
Given your dad’s recent health kick, you might find it easier than ever to suggest he perhaps stick with water. You could even offer to work out with him in his new garage home gym after dinner, something he's been asking to do for weeks now. However, if this does not seem feasible, you can prime your father in the car with information you read about Japanese tea ceremonies. Chances are, he will become excited at the opportunity to seem “with it” to the Japanese people.
4. Do not use the restroom.
If you are to supervise your dad for the entirety of dinner, a mid-meal potty break is off the table. Left alone, your dad may bow to the sushi chefs behind the counter, or worse, ask the server if he can take the sushi boat home with him after dinner.
To avoid Mother Nature’s call, you should cleanse your body and abstain from food or water a full 24 hours before every Toshi’s outing. If the possibility of diarrhea is a concern, call Toshi’s the day of and speak with Himari about how recently the night’s seafood was delivered to the restaurant. Remember, this is a critical step and every precaution must be taken.
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your dad’s cultural sensitivity. Much like your dad’s love life, this process will take time, energy, and plenty of trial and error (Ingrid was really his best girlfriend, but who’s counting?).
Even when you’ve managed to halt your dad’s ill informed attempts at respect, there’s still a strong chance he’ll ask for fortune cookies with the check, a stark reminder that you must occasionally salmon roll with the punches.