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Saturday, April 30, 2011

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The case of the ¥300,000 blanket


My husband is taking me to court.

I guess I should have seen it coming. There had been problems all along, but I ignored them. And recently, with the late arrival of spring, we have all been forced to deal with the cold weather a week or two longer than normal. Especially after cherry blossom season, this seems unexpectedly cruel. I blame the weather.

Last week I woke up in the middle of the night to my husband sleeping huddled in the fetal position near the edge of the bed. His body was exposed and shivering. So I gathered up the blanket and threw it over him, then snuggled into his back and fell asleep. In the morning, when I woke up, he was gone.

With the whole bed to myself, I stretched out and while doing so, got a whiff of fresh coffee being brewed downstairs. Ah, my wonderful husband!

But when I went downstairs, he was not happy. "That's it," he said. "I've had it!"

Had what? I said, bewildered. Before I could get an answer out of him, he was running away from the house with his pajamas still on. He didn't come back. He didn't call.

A few days later, a summons arrived in the mail. My God, he's pressing charges. He is accusing me of being . . . a blanket thief!

At the trial, he presented evidence: Large, digital photos of our closet with blankets piled high, in a full PowerPoint presentation. Wool blankets, synthetic blankets, red blankets, flower-print blankets, Nishikawa brand blankets. "All of these she has stolen from me" he said accusingly. "Several times over, often in the same night!" He used a laser pointer to tick off each blanket.

"As soon as one blanket disappears to her side of the bed, I go to the closet to get another and within 30 minutes, the new one is on her side of the bed too. Bloody cold it is sleeping all winter with no blanket," he said, pointing to his fingers that showed evidence of frost bite.

Judge: Does the defendant have something to say?

"Do you realize, Your Honor, how hard it is to get blankets in Japan to fit a double bed? Blanket sizes were originally made to fit futons, which are a different size: small. They are making more and more blanket sizes these days, but since we have so many old blankets, it seems a waste to go out and buy more. Especially when they do just as good a job of keeping me warm."

"I wasn't really sure who was pilfering the blankets at first," my husband said. "She drinks my beer, eats my chocolate, and occasionally takes something from my dinner plate, but it's not like her to steal something not edible.

"We tried changing sides of the bed, thinking there was a tilt, allowing the blanket to inch its way over to her side. But there was no change, so now I am convinced that it has been her all along," he said, sniffling from the onset of what is probably pneumonia.

"Your Honor," I said, "imagine a room that gets hot at night. Since I have no recollection of this so-called blanket stealing, isn't it possible that he tosses off the blankets in the middle of the night and that they land on me?"

"Another factor," my husband started, "is that she sleeps with several animals, which take over my side of the bed and the blanket. There is a cat, who sleeps completely stretched out and who purrs so loud that I can hardly sleep. There are also several stuffed cows."

"Suffed animals?" said the judge?

"Cows, Your Honor. Large stuffed ones."

(Judge snickers)

"The animals are really just a mitigating circumstance, Your Honor," I said.

"I'd like to bring to your attention to this blanket," my husband continues. He points the laser at the Nishikawa blanket. "This blanket was a gift. It is a very well-known brand, bought from a famous department store and is worth ¥300,000. Although half of the blanket could be considered hers, she has still stolen ¥150,000 worth of blanket."

Judge: ¥150,000 qualifies as grand theft.

"But I didn't know the blanket was so expensive, Your Honor. Surely, only in Japan can one find ¥300,000 blankets!" I could see this bloody blanket putting me in jail for years to come. But there was nothing I could do.

In the end I pleaded guilty. I was charged with three counts of keeping farm animals in the bedroom and five counts of leaving someone out in the cold. In lieu of going to jail for grand theft, I was able to plea bargain and instead was ordered to serve my husband breakfast in bed for 100 days.

When I woke up this morning, I could smell fresh coffee being brewed downstairs. I brushed the cat and cows aside and ran downstairs as fast as I could. "Stop! That's my duty!" I said.

My husband looked at me quizzically and asked, "Have you been dreaming again?"



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