I should have given her this one.
Me: Do you want to borrow some books to take on your trip?
Megan: Sure, whaddya got?
Me: Well, what sort of thing do you want? Fiction, non-fiction, thriller, classic?
Megan: Something good. And not depressing.
Me: So no Sarah N. books.
Nick: Sarah N. books?
Me: One time I was super depressed and didn’t want to be alone with my thoughts for even one second on the subway, so I went over to Sarah’s house and asked for some good books, and she loaned me a bunch about suicide and organ harvesting.
Megan: And the Holocaust.
Me: And the Holocaust.
Megan: No, I want something uplifting.
Me: So definitely no organ harvesting.
Megan: And nothing with a stupid title like The Women’s Lady Whispering Bee Club.
Me: That rules out this, then. I couldn’t get through it, but maybe it would be bearable on vacation.
Megan: “Oh, I couldn’t get through it, but you’re dumb, maybe you’ll like it.”
Me: No! I just mean, you have lower expectations for anything you read next to a body of water.
Megan: Okay, that’s true.
Me: Plus I wouldn’t care if you lost it. You’d be doing me a favor.
Megan: No. I want something uplifting and transformative, that will change my life forever for the better.
Me: That’s a tall order.
Nick: Why don’t you take this? It’s my favorite book of all time.
Me: Wait, I wanted to read that.
Nick: You lost your chance. It’s been on the bedside table for two months now.
Megan [leafing through]: Yes, this is it. I can feel it.
Me: Wait, are you sure? You don’t want my book of Norse myths? It’s really great because they have these notes at the end of each myth where they tell you which bits came from Snorri Sturluson and which came from Saxo Grammaticus.
Megan, to Nick: Thanks!
For those of you who’ve ended up here from Antonia’s blog post, probably disappointed this wasn't a link to a Thai mail-order bride site, I want to make clear that I did not meet my boyfriend from the internet; I knew Antonia from the internet, met her last summer in San Francisco, and then she invited me to stay with her when I came to London a few months later, where I met my boyfriend in her living room. Which is actually a pretty good story, but I feel a little self-conscious about how boyfriend-centric my posts have been lately, so maybe I’ll sit on that one for a little longer.
(That’s what she said.)
(Or, as I was delighted to learn, the English version of that’s what she said is said the actress to the bishop.)
I am at the computer. Nick is lying on the bed. Neither of us have spoken for about fifteen minutes.
Nick: Someone should seriously go ahead and just put Fergie out of her misery.
Me: I… what?
Nick: They should either chop wood on her face, or just chop her head off altogether. Or kill her. Just kill her.
Me: Wh… are you reading my magazine from the plane?
Nick: Who is Kate Gosselin?
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!”
Me: I had a horrible dream last night, the worst nightmare I’ve ever had.
Nick: What was it?
Me: Everyone I knew hated me and was trying to kill me, so they trapped me in this giant arena and were torturing me for an audience.
Nick: Aw, that’s awful. Was I there?
Me: No, you were the only person who wasn’t there! Even my dad was there.
Nick: That’s probably because I was going to break in and save you.
Me: That would have been nice. You could have shown up right before Stevie Wonder shaved my head.
Nick: I probably didn’t because I was detained. I dreamed that I was in prison for some reason, and this big group of people came to visit me, and one of them accused me of raping someone named Hagel --
Me: Is that L-E or E-L?
Nick: E-L. So I was like, “No, that’s not possible, there’s no way I ever did such a thing, and besides, I don't even know anyone named Hagel.” Which I then thought was a stupid thing to say, because what if they used that against me, that I didn't even remember raping her.
Nick: And then Hagel turned up later, and Hagel was a horse.
Me: I supposed you have could ridden in on Hagel to save me, but that wouldn’t have helped your situation much.
Nick: Yeah, that might have complicated things.