My peacefulness was abruptly interrupted when Dad suddenly turned to me and strangely commented aloud "Japs, you can't call them that any more you know. They don't like it."
I was quite perplexed at his bizarre statement however knowing my father as well as I do, I knew I did not want to pursue this conversation in any way, so I attempted to end it before it actually began.
"Good to know, Dad." I replied, over the top of my newspaper. "Thanks for the heads up."
But Dad refused to be put off by my somewhat curt response and seemed rather eager to continue.
"They just called them 'Japs' in this old movie I'm watching. Can't call them that now though, not without being branded a racist or hatemonger or something equally stupid." Dad commented, sounding almost sad at this new modern reality.
Knowing I would not be getting any peace or quiet until I gave Dad my full attention, I put down my paper and replied carefully.
"Well Dad" I began, very aware that my father is known to fly into a rage at even the slightest provocation. "It really is a rather outdated & rude expression. I don't think too many people even use it these days."
"Don't be ridiculous boy." Dad snapped back. "We buy dozens of Jap oranges every Christmas, they don't mind being called 'Japs' when we are buying their oranges or when we're buying their cars, for that matter."
"I think they probably do mind." I replied defensively. "There is no reason to insult them, I mean the war has actually been over for at least sixty years."
"That's what I am trying to tell you." Dad continued sounding a bit agitated. "Old Pete went into Safeway last week and asked one of the clerks for some of that 'Sweet Jap Sauce' they use for cooking. The idiotic clerk called poor Pete a racist and refused to serve him and just walked away. Then, when Pete complained at Customer Service, they actually did nothing."
"Teriyaki sauce, Dad?" I asked, pretty much knowing exactly what Old Pete had wanted. "Was Pete looking for just plain old Teriyaki sauce and suddenly decided to call it that 'Sweet Jap Sauce' to the clerk?"
Well I do know him and in fact looking back, I am quite sure Old Pete has pretty much offended almost everyone he has come in contact with at one time or the other, with the exception of my father who considers that elderly buffoon to be a close friend. I have known Pete as Dad's friend for most of my life and recall him wearing offensive T-shirts, making crude and inappropriate sexual & racial remarks or pretty much being a fool whenever he is around.
If I have learned anything in life however, it is never intentionally disagree with my father. I decided I should just stop commenting on this topic and let Dad tire himself out talking.
"So make sure you don't call 'em Japs." Dad finally concluded. "They really seem to take offence to the word."
"That's not going to happen, Dad." I responded firmly, finally hoping this would end this little insane afternoon chat.
Dad, misunderstanding my statement replied. "Well, don't say I didn't warn you boy. If you still insist on calling them that, just be prepared for the consequences."
"No, Dad." I clarified quickly. "I mean to say that I have never used that offensive expression in my life and I can never imagine a time when I would."
There was finally silence in the room, aside from the commercials blaring from the television. Dad had no more to say on the topic and I was very relieved for that. Then suddenly he started back up again.
"I mean," Dad began. "I'm originally from Aberdeen in Scotland and you don't see me taking offence every time someone calls me a 'Scot' or even calls me 'Scotty' for that matter. It's ridiculous. That's what is wrong with the world these days, boy. Everyone taking offence at the slightest slip of the tongue and then we're scared to even speak for fear it offends someone. Bloody ridiculous. In my day you called a 'spade' a 'spade' and that was the end of it."
I just sat there quietly, really not knowing if or how to respond to any of this. I was praying silently that this horrible and very politically incorrect rant my father had embarked on, would somehow end. Finally I was saved, the commercials were over and Dads' attention turned back to his beloved war movie.
I once again picked up my newspaper and went back to reading, extremely thankful for the reprieve.
Unfortunately less than a minute later, Dad turned to me and remarked laughingly "You know Boy." He began. "Speaking of irony, the last time someone called me a Scot was some old guy a few years ago in a pub. And guess what ?"
"What Dad?" I replied apprehensively, really not knowing nor caring at what the response would possibly be.
"That guy who called me a 'Scot' " Dad replied. "Well he was a 'Jap' if I recall correctly. HAHAHA"
With that Dad began laughing aloud at what he seemed to think was an extremely witty and hilarious ironic statement.
I quietly folded up my newspaper, grabbed my keys and headed out.
I have often realized since I've been staying at my parents place that it's really never too early in the day to go for a drink.