Meet the Parents
Tomorrow I’m taking Nick home with me to Tulsa to meet my parents. I haven’t brought a boyfriend home to meet my family since college, I think; definitely not since I’ve been an official technical adult, and never one who was going to be invited to stay overnight.
My parents, who are really cool and lovely people, have taken the pace of our courtship remarkably well and very smoothly, far better than I expected, always very happy and excited for me, even though my dad still refers to Nick as “your friend.” They always ask about him, and they even sent him a birthday card last month. My mom wrote a nice little note inside, and my dad wrote one line: “Hope you enjoy your stay.” Nick opened it and smiled and said, “Aw, that’s sw—enjoy your stay?! Where does he think I’m going? He has no faith in us! He has no faith in this endeavor!” And then, for the rest of the day, under his breath, “Enjoy your stay.” When he called them to say thank you, he got really nervous beforehand and insisted on brushing his teeth before I dialed the number, and I said, “Honey, it’s going to be fine; she’s a mom, she’s nice, and it’s your birthday, she’s not going to be anything but sweet,” and so he took the phone and said, “Hello, Pam?” and then his face froze in confusion and possible terror and I thought OH GOD WHAT IS SHE SAYING WHAT COULD SHE POSSIBLY BE SAYING and then he relaxed and smiled and mouthed, “She’s singing!” So I’m not worried at all; I’m sure the two of them will be ganging up on me in no time. My dad might make him sweat a little, but that’s part of the fun, and I’m sure it’ll give him something new to mutter under his breath.
We’ve made a list of the three things he shouldn’t say in front of them, and then I’ve selflessly given him a helpful list of starter topics if there’s a lull in the conversation and he doesn’t want to have to actually speak, such as You know, I’d love to hear the story of Sarah’s first ballet recital, or Can you believe Sarah still doesn’t have health insurance. I’m sure they’ll all love each other, and now I know for sure that he really loves me, because I can’t believe he’s doing this voluntarily. Nick grew up all over the world, in England and Australia and Hong Kong and Thailand and Japan, while I went to school in the same city from ages five to twenty-two. There’s no way to make this glamorous, so I’ll take him out for proper barbecue and Mexican food and 3.2 beer and make him go see the Golden Driller and the Praying Hands and then at least Christmas will be a little less daunting, right?
Anyway. My mom called me a few days ago and told me she was trying to “de-frou-frou” my room a little before we came, “for Nick.” Have I ever shown you a picture of my old childhood bedroom? It looks nothing like how it did when it was my actual childhood bedroom; it’s like a garden that’s been left unattended for ten years, only maybe once in awhile an old lady wanders in and leaves her hats and pearls and behind. Back when I lived in it, I thought I decorated it rather tastefully, with my Jim Morrison Memorial poster, my Endor poster, my framed Starry Starry Night print, and a lot of those globe candles that looked like kaleidoscopes when you lit them. It was very dramatic.
When I was in the seventh grade, my mom wanted to paint and redecorate it, and there was a pretty strong battle of wills because I wanted it to be black and she wanted it to not be black. Our compromise, which I really don’t think was a compromise at all, but I was thirteen and couldn’t drive or earn a paycheck so I got very little say in the matter, was a black bedspread, only it was covered in roses. The roses were pink, but my mother assured me the black drowned them out and we wouldn’t use pink as an accent. The second I moved out and went to college, a grandma exploded all over my old bedroom and now it’s like the goddamn war of the roses up in there. At one point when I went home for a visit, there was this tiny needlepoint pillow on the bed that said “My princess sleeps here,” and I was like MO-THER so now it lives in the closet, next to Han Solo and the Ouija board and boxed up Cabbage Patch Kids.
But now, nearly twenty years later, my mom is finally getting rid of some of the roses and pearls, all for a dude she hasn’t even met yet. Yesterday she called and said, “What about the vase with the roses on it, can I leave that?” and I said, “I can’t believe you’re doing this for Nick. You don’t even know him! What if you don’t like him? You’ve liked me for thirty two years!” and she said, “Eh, but not consistently.” So right before I hung up, I said, “Oh, by the way, Nick’s allergic to cotton, wood, and flour. See you Wednesday!”