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Meeting Gee’s Parents

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Meeting Gee’s Parents

Thursday, September 2, 1999, was the day Gee and I drove down to the Tidewater region of Virginia to visit her parents. Once Gee had told her parents that a friend of hers was going to drive with her to Seattle and help her get settled in her new apartment, her parents demanded to meet her friend. Gee and I had tried to avoid telling them the friend was actually me, since we were trying to prevent them from jumping to any conclusions about our relationship... at least until we knew what we wanted them to know. So, early Thursday morning, I went to Gee’s apartment to help her pack some of her belongings that she was planning on storing at her parents' home.

Glenfiddich Solera ReserveAround noon, we headed south on I-95 towards Tidewater. I had packed a bottle of Glenfiddich 15-year Solera Reserve as a gift for Gee’s family. A tradition in Korean society is when invited to a Korean home, to bring a gift of flowers, fruit, liquor, or fine coffee or tea— I had asked Gee what to bring and she had told me that her father liked Chivas Regal. I wanted to make the gift a bit more impressive, considering the feelings I had towards Gee, and the very real possibility I might have to make a very good impression on her parents— possibly my future-in-laws. I asked my friend, Brad, who was once a bar manager, what to get if someone liked Chivas Regal— he recommended either Glenlivet or Glenfiddich, both single malt whiskeys.

The weather that day was terrible. There was a hurricane sitting off the Virginia-North Carolina coastline and we were headed straight into the edges of it. By the time we were on the bridge/tunnel that leads out to the Tidewater peninsula, the wind was blowing the rain sideways and the rain was heavy enough that almost no one else was on the road.

We pulled into her parents' driveway and went into the house. Her parents wanted to take us out to dinner, so we headed out in her mom’s RAV4. I whispered to Gee, as the RAV4 was being blown about the road, that we should have emptied my truck and taken the Explorer instead. Well... we finally got to the restaurant... which to my surprise was both open and had customers other than us. We had dinner and over dinner I explained why I had decided to drive to Seattle with Gee to her parents. Her parents were worried about my driving back from Seattle by myself. I explained that I had taken many long road trips and was quite experienced in driving long distances by myself— that when I lived in Missouri, I used to drive from Missouri to Boston five or six times a year and had been on several cross-country trips— San Diego/Los Angeles to Boston mainly.

Ha-Toh cardWhen we got back to her family’s home, we settled down to play a Korean card game. My father-in-law wanted to know if I wanted to play for money... a nickel a point... I said that I didn't think it'd be fair and that I didn't want to take his money. Gee laughed and warned her father that if I was saying I was good at the game, he would be better off believing me— that I didn't bluff.

Ha-toh cardThe game we played is called Ha-toh, and is kind of like of a Korean version of whist. The cards are fairly small and made of hard stiff plastic— fairly thick and inflexible— with woodcut-like pictures of scenes from Korean life as you can see with these two 20 point cards. The suits of the cards are based on the 12 months. Scoring is based on symbols on the cards— banners are worth five points, animals 10 points, and characters in a colored-dots are worth 20. Collecting an entire set of characters or banners is worth 20 points from each of the others player.

The next day, Gee, her parents and I talked about our upcoming trip to Seattle. Gee’s father told me that if I didn't like the area that Gee’s apartment was in, to not let her move in and to call him so we could make arrangements that I would approve of. I guess, in many ways, parents always treat their own children as children— no matter how old they are— and because I wasn't their daughter, they wanted me to check the area out for them. I told her father that my primary reason for going to Seattle was to make sure that Gee would get there safely and to get her settled into her new life in Seattle safely. I explained how Gee and I had become close friends over the past seven weeks and that she was someone I cared for and was willing to take care to protect.

After talking with her parents for two days, Gee and I set off for our homes in Northern Virginia. We still had a lot to do before we left for Seattle. Our target date for leaving for Seattle was September 10th, the two-month anniversary from when we first met.