The generation gap is eternal, but no two eras experience it quite the same way. How many ways can the old and young grate on each other? People now approaching old age have lived through an unusual number of possibilities. Politics, music, technology, sex, and economics have all conspired in recent decades to set the generations at odds.
“Generation gap” usually suggests parents and children, but Shukan Post (Sept 5) tries a different approach, focusing on fathers-in-law and daughters-in-law.
The wife of a man’s son, mother of his grandchildren or grandchildren-to-be, deserves a special place in his heart and often wins it – but “special” doesn’t always mean good.
“My eldest son brought his new bride home for Obon,” recalls a 62-year-old company employee, referring to the annual mid-August occasion for family reunions. “Maybe because I never had a daughter, I felt a little awkward.”
“A little” soon became a lot. "Not that she wasn’t a nice person – on the contrary – but… well, the way she dressed – was it really suitable? See-through T-shirt, no bra? You don’t want to stare, and yet ... does my son really not mind?” The father-in-law didn’t say anything, but “it embarrassed me to be thinking what I was thinking!”
A 64-year-old self-employed man describes coming home one evening and entering his living room, only to suddenly stop short – there was his visiting daughter-in-law, breastfeeding her little boy. Well, so what? “She was not in the least embarrassed – she smiled down at the infant and said, ‘Look, grandpa’s home!’ For some reason I felt like apologizing, but thinking that would be silly, I just said, ‘Drink up, little man, and grow big and strong!’” Which was surely the best way to handle the situation.
This from a 65-year-old accountant hosting his visiting son and daughter-in-law: “My son was out late at a class reunion. I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and noticed their light on, which seemed odd. She must have fallen asleep with it on.”
Approaching to turn it off, he saw his daughter-in-law, wide awake, so thoroughly absorbed in a pornoraphic video that she didn’t even notice him. He beat a hasty retreat and nothing was ever said – “but I can’t get it out of my mind, I can’t feel the way I used to about her.”
One last anecdote, narrated by a 63-year-old company president. “She came to my office one day” – his 39-year-old daughter-in-law – “to talk to me about my son’s infidelities.” She was distraught. Unable to contain her emotions, she burst into tears, into uncontrollable sobs. “I couldn’t just stand there and let the woman weep. I took her in my arms, comforted her, kissed her, she clung more tightly to me…” Nothing further happened on that occasion, but the die was cast: “In secret from my wife and my son, we now meet at a love hotel once a month.”© Japan Today