Yesterday we celebrated by taking her to a fancy crab restaurant downtown - private room, multi-course dinner of yummy crab parts... and some miracle working.
Dear Son, who is trying hard to become an alcoholic, insisted that we go for the all-you-can-drink plan at the restaurant. I'm not too bothered if I drink alcohol or not at this kind of family duty meal. Okaasan shouldn't drink more than a small amount. And he can out drink a fish. So really he was choosing only for him. Typical Japanese male. All members of the group have to have the same plan. It's an aspect of Japan I don't like. The pressure to drink.
Anyway. He started drinking beers. I ordered one wine. Okaasan ordered sake and it came in a little glass bottle so she could pour endless top ups into a small glass for herself.
Just dangerous. I KNEW this was going to happen. Why didn't DS think the same?
He knows what his mum is like....why oh why oh why did he think this was a good idea?
After she'd downed two glasses of sake in five minutes I took control. We couldn't let her drink like this and get sick...on her birthday, in a public place....on a hot night...at age 85.
I ordered a glass of water for myself, then distracted Okaasan with chat about the menu descriptions - and with my left hand grabbed the sake bottle and hid it under my side of the table. Poured the sake out into an other container, poured the water in - added a tiny amount of sake for taste - and sneaked it back onto the table behind Okaasan's tabletop cooking pot.
Held my breath....when she reached for the sake bottle....and....she drank it....no comment at all about "this sake tastes weak" or "this isn't sake!!".
We continued our dinner.
Then the waitress brought out the Birthday Surprise for the celebrating guest. We'd expected a few candles in a small cake or something. A little present from the restaurant.
It was a traditional (but actually plastic) keg of...sake! Huge amount.
Okaasan was delighted. Of course. She banged the keg top with a mallet - see picture - and the waitress opened up a golden ball with streamers and Congrats message.
Now we had even MORE sake to spirit away :-(
So we let her drink a little of the keg. We drank some too.
Then...more distracting...more under the table hiding, transferring, rebottling of water...and DS and I ended up drinking a whole lot of sake ourselves. Neither of us really like sake...but it had to be done.
Okaasan never noticed me moving the bottle and returning it to the table top. She never noticed that she was actually drinking water. Strange. But a relief. Sake looks like water too - that is a BIG help.
Meanwhile under the table on the tatami mat near my handbag I had a whole collection of glasses and sake box cups filled with variations on the sake to water miracle.....
Happy Birthday Okaasan.
Roll on another year....