So the GF made what some would consider the foolish decision to fly south with me for the holidays. No, not to the islands, not to Florida, not even to the hills of Kentucky.
No she agreed to ... MEET THE FAMILY.
I’ve written before about my own fears and foibles in that regard. And I’ve often joked that the perfect woman for me would be an orphan. I'll take an emotional basket-case with daddy issues over someone with evil parents any day of the week. Nothing worse than finding a great partner--or even just a somewhat suitable one--and discovering that their family, for all intents and purposes, could be considered as the “opposing team.” I’d go deeper into the sports analogy, but there aren’t enough key family members to make up a football team and I find basketball just boring enough not to care that much. I’d imagine though, from a guy’s point of view, the opposing dad would be the center--tall, imposing, the muscle, perhaps not overly bright when it comes to matters of his offspring. The mom would be the point guard--the brains behind the outfit, the one who calls the shots, the one you have to really about. And the rest? Just random jerks who run picks and screens and generally make your life miserable.
With GF, I’ve already run that gauntlet--which turned out not to be one. Momz found me lacking only in personal hygeine (no big surprise there) and pops was impressed with my mad crab-busting skills.
So now it was her turn.
Was she nervous? I don’t know. I was entirely too selfish to ask. Besides, my family is so happy that I’m in a seemingly stable relationship with a real live human woman, I was half expecting them to roll out red carpets and throw rose petals at her head when she walked through the door.
But they did better than that. They behaved like civilized human beings.
Okay, okay. I don’t come from a family of rampaging backwoods rednecks or hard-core hillbillies. But you know how families are. One by one, the individual units are nice enough. Moms is sweet. Step-pops is sort of goofy and always ready to pour a drink. Dads is a smart-ass but funny. Step-momz means well. But put any two of them in the same room and, well, you know.
And holidays only complicate the situation.
I wasn’t worried that GF would perform miserably and fail the folks test. The only test she really had to pass was the kid test. (We don’t discuss him here on the blog so as not to emotionally cripple him, but I do have a kid back in the bayou.) GF passed that one easily--partly because she likes to play 20 Questions on long road trips and partly because she fit into the gerbil habitat at Chuck E. Cheese.
No, I was worried that the family would scar her for life. And, as I saw it, there were ample opportunities.
On the mom side, their always seems to be a great deal of intrahouse bickering and nagging. It’s bad enough with mom, stepdad and halfbrother. But this trip was going to be further complicated by sharing the house with realbrother, Brian, and his wife, stepdaughter and new-born child. That’s a lot of people in one house. Especially when most of the people involved--the adults at any rate--are the sort who do believe that there are stupid questions and plenty of stupid people to ask them and, by the way, we’ll be happy to point out said stupidity. Oh, and we’re very moody people. So even on a good day, when 90% of the clan is in a good mood, all it takes is one person to throw everything off. A simple “Where’s the sugar?” can lead to “Well, where do you THINK the sugar is?” or “You didn’t tell me we needed sugar. I just went to the store and I’m not ABOUT to go back..” Which, sooner or later leads to something along the lines of “Oh, yeah, YOU’RE so smart. ... Stoopid-ass.”
But! The presence of GF had everyone on their best behavior. It was great. There was only one moment--after driving to and from New Orleans and immediately before I had to go stand in a Catholic Church and swear I’d prove a good Catholic role model for my god-child--when the faintest hints of bickering and my tired inability to put up with other people’s shit came close to surfacing. But we tamped it all down and soldiered on.
Hell, the only problem with the mom unit of the family was that GF liked my step-dad so much that she encouraged his corny jokes and teasing.
On the dad side, I was more afraid of the culture shock. Dad lives out in the sticks in what is the equivalent of a double-wide trailer. And he and step-mom live in sort of a commune consisting of step-mom’s family, all of whom are Pentecostal (sort of born-again Christian for those of you not familiar). They’re all some of the nicest people I know on the planet, but consider you’re taking a New York born and raised Buddhist, second-generation Thai girl and plopping her down into Krotz Springs, Louisiana among folks who don’t watch TV and don’t curse. Also, they like to hunt and fish and ride dirt-bikes and four-wheelers and such. (I’ll say this much, though, no TV makes for a much more civilized lifestyle, in which people do things like ‘visit’ and even ‘talk.’)
How did GF handle this? Well, I figured everything was okay when she climbed on a dirt-bike tour of the compound (okay, it’s not really a compound, but I like to call it that) with my step-mom. There I am on one dirt-bike tearing ass around the fields, going as fast as I can, and they’re puttering along, yakking it up all the way.
Everyone liked everyone. GF is so adaptable, she a) volunteered to sleep in a camper one night and b) walked through Christmas Eve with my mom’s hardcore Cajun family like she was born to the manor.
To say everyone performed splendidly would be an understatement. They might have gotten along too well. If I remember correctly, GF talked my step-mom’s entire family into training for the NYC Marathon and coming up in November. And I’m getting veiled threats from other areas of the family that if I don’t keep this one, I’ll be taken out on a deer-hunting trip without my hunter-safety orange (if you catch my drift).
Long story short? Good times. A very merry Christmas indeed.
Also, we each gained about ten pounds.
Our next installment? My not-so-open-minded thoughts on couple’s counseling! Specifically designed for those of you who find happy-relationship-talk vomit-inducing!Previous PostMainALSO OF NOTE:
A Nondating Life entry makes it into Wikipedia. In the Friend Zone entry
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