Just last week I received a birth announcement from Cheryl and Warren Kernander, former Tokyoites who are now the proud parents of a son, Cullen Ryan, as well as a 3-year-old daughter, Caitlin. Cheryl and Warren left Tokyo several years ago and settled in Ohio, but every four years, as autumn arrives and another U.S. presidential election rolls around, I am reminded of their fateful meeting and subsequent romance here in Japan.
Cheryl and I had met back in 1992 when we were both cast in a production with Tokyo International Players. Our play was in dress rehearsal on election night as Bill Clinton claimed his victory. Several of us in TIP had marched in the Ginza with Democrats Abroad earlier that fall and were planning to join the victory party in Roppongi after rehearsal. It was about 10 p.m. when Cheryl and I piled into my Daihatsu minivan with a group of women friends: Shelli Place, Fran Dillon, Karen Patteson and Edeen Hill, to name a few, and headed to the party.
As we wound our way through the back streets of Azabu, the topic of conversation-steered to how Cheryl, who was a bit shy and the only single woman in our group, could find a wonderful man to spend the rest of her life with. We all had a feeling that Mr. Right was just around the corner. And sure enough, as I veered around the corner of the Azabu Fire Station, I was forced to-slam on the brakes to avoid hitting this sexy guy (well, OK, a nice-looking man about Cheryl’s age) walking down the street in a trench coat.
After shouting out my apologies, I started to drive on when the girls in the car (OK, we were all thirtysomething moms) started yelling at me to stop and find out who he was. The poor guy must have been stunned to see us backing up and yelling questions at him like, “Are you married?” “Are you a Democrat?” “Want to come to a party?” “Want to meet our cute friend Cheryl?” Cheryl, of course, was completely mortified and tried to disappear under the seat during this interrogation.
We discovered that the incredulous but charming Mr. Warren Kernander was fairly new to Tokyo, was single, was a Democrat (or perhaps just wanted to come to our party), and would definitely like to meet our friend Cheryl. By this time Cheryl was about to kill us all and would not allow us to give Warren a lift, so we gave him the party address instead.
For the rest of the ride we girls made bets as to whether our new friend would show up. Cheryl alternated between worrying that he was a psycho and thinking that this Warren guy was actually kind of cute. Once we got to the victory party there was so much excitement that we almost forgot about the invitation until suddenly he appeared, graciously but shyly greeting all of us with, “Which one of you is Cheryl?”
Needless to say it was a really fun evening, and Cheryl and Warren spent most of their time chatting and getting to know each other. As we all said good night, we embarrassed Cheryl further by urging Warren to come see her in the play, which was opening the next weekend. Cheryl was playing the role of a prostitute in the production and was horrified that he would get the wrong idea!
Well, to make a long story short, Warren came to the play bearing a bouquet of roses for the leading lady, and the rest is history. They’ve been married for six years now, a really happy ending to a crazy election night in Tokyo!
Now to get to the baby part of this column. Reading the beautiful birth announcement from Cheryl and Warren made me remember how frustrating it was searching for the perfect announcement when my children were born in Japan. I ended up using the stationary store down the street to print up basic postcards in English and Japanese, which included a photo of our newborn, a fairly economical and convenient choice.
If you prefer a more elaborate or Western-style announcement, your best bet is to order on the Internet from a company called Babies ‘N Bells. They offer a wide variety of custom paper products, announcements and photo cards to herald the arrival of a new baby. The quality is first-rate and orders are processed quickly.
More and more parents are sending birth announcements over the World Wide Web. Check out webbaby.com for a private site where you can post your pictures with a choice of background and music. What an easy and economical way to show off your new bundle of joy to the world!