Two weeks after our honeymoon, I made the mistake of answering the landline. (Yes, we had a landline. Yes, we didn’t pay for caller ID. Yes, my husband is sometimes a cheap bastard.) A gruff, low, male voice I didn’t recognize barked something about a son or a grandson.
I said, “Wrong number,” and hung up.
Ten seconds later, the phone rang again. I answered again.
The same voice muttered, “….my grandson?”
“Look, dude, there are no kids here, I’m not a kidnapper, and you have the wrong number!” I hung up.
The phone rang once more. I picked it up, ready to tell the idiot on the other end of the line off.
Before I could say anything, the man shouted, “WHERE. IS. MY. GRANDSON?!”
Once he yelled, I recognized my Chinese-American father-in-law’s voice. Jay rarely spoke, but I’d been on the receiving end of his bellow several times. I muttered, “Uh, Jay? Sorry, I didn’t know it was you.”
And how could I, when the man didn’t even say normal things like, “Autumn, this is Jay,” or even a simple “hello.”
I asked Jay how he was. He grunted. I told him that Andy wasn’t home, and asked, “Do you want me to have him call you when he gets home?”
“No. I want to know where my grandson is.”
“What grandson? You don’t have one.”
“Jay. We’ve been married less than a month.”
“Yes. So where is my grandson?”
Jesus Christ, how did a man with three children know nothing about the timeline for human reproduction? “Jay. Even if we I’d gotten pregnant on the honeymoon, I wouldn’t know it yet!”
“So could be grandson, yeah?”
“NO!” I took a deep breath. And another, and said, “We are not planning on kids for several years. There is no grandson.”
Jay hung up.
A week later, he called again. Again, there were no pleasantries. There was only an indignant, “Where’s my grandson?!”
I said, “Hi, Jay, how are you?”
“Where’s my grandson?!”
“As I told you before, Jay, we’re not planning on kids anytime soon. There is no grandson—”
This went on for six months. Jay never called when Andy was home. He never called Andy at work. He never called Andy’s cell and demanded a grandchild. He only called me. Apparently, I was expected to produce a grandson on demand.
During the Thanksgiving holiday at my in-law’s house, I painstakingly explained my methods of birth control to my mother-in-law. I rather hoped should would pass the message along to her husband.
Instead, Jay gave Andy a seriously tardy and factually incorrect talk about sex. Andy’s still scarred.
I hadn’t even decorated for Christmas before Jay called again and yelled, “Where’s my grandson?!”
Apparently, my message was not received.
By Easter, I had insisted on caller ID. The next time Jay called, I let the machine pick up. Ha! I thought. Checkmate.
Jay called again. And again. And again. He left no messages. I turned off the ringer.
Caller ID from Hawaii lit up until I left the house. When I got back, I turned the ringer back on. The phone was mercifully silent. For a whole five minutes.
Then Andy’s aunt called, wanting to know if we were okay, because Jay hadn’t been able to get in touch with us. Five minutes after I told Yee-Mah we were fine and ended the call, Jay called again.
I couldn’t stand the thought of Jay calling every single Wong relation. I threw in the towel and picked up the phone. “Hello?”
“Where’s my grandson?!”