Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday Guide to Meeting Parents: Ice Breakers

The holiday season is here and many of you will be meeting your significant others' parents for the first time. Under horrifying conditions. Not only are you confronted with impressing these people but you must do so in pressure-cooker circumstances. I would like to offer you hope. The hope of the season, a story The Boy's parents love to tell guests over dinner because humiliation is best shared over new potatoes and rump-roast.

The first time I met The Boy's parents was in a pressure-cooker akin to that of the holiday season -- a wedding three states away. This meant that the first time EVER meeting his parents would be over a three-day period after a multi-hour plane flight in an area unbeknownst to me. To make the roast extra crispy, there would be no method of escape. No car, no yoga studio (honestly, I didn't do yoga back then, but I had a healthy addiction to lifting weights* and there was no gym either).

The Parents were to meet The Boy and I at 8:30am. We would then proceed to a meet-n-greet breakfast on our way to the airport. It is important to note that even in the best of circumstances I am not a morning person. I have what I call a "problem with inertia" (Inertia being the tendency of an object at rest to stay at rest and an object in motion to stay in motion). Changing states of consciousness takes me hours of slow, intense, mental pain. At 8:30am, appearing to have the mental capacity of a sozzled sloth was going to take an Herculean effort.

I don't deal with social stress well. I drink. Heavily. Hand me a crisis where lives hang in the balance and I will navigate a colony to safer shores. Hand me a situation where I may have to deal with long awkward silence and I hide in the corner with a bottle of red. So, the night prior to our meeting, in a fit of the jitters, I got it all out of my system...or into my system, depending on how you look at it. This served only to thicken the usual morning-haze.

That morning, my bladder rudely woke me up and I begrudgingly obliged, throwing my legs off the bed and pulling on the closest piece of clothing on the floor, a button-down dress shirt. I might have gotten one or two buttons done, probably mismatched by at least a button or two, so that one side of the collar was pulling down and the other was slung over my shoulder somewhere. I can't say I cared much. I shuffled to the bathroom. The shower sounds coming from it told me The Boy was blocking my pee-space. UGH. I would have to plod downstairs. 

I cracked my eyeballs open as much as I could, which didn't help much because I didn't have my coke-bottle-sized contacts in. I slowly navigated the stairs to the first-floor bathroom.

Something registered on the edge of my periphery. I ignored it, opting to deal with all sensory input after coffee. I turned the corner to the bathroom, opened the door and noted there was something blocking the toilet.

Small amounts of information began the arduous journey through the mud into my brain. The first piece of information to pick-axe it's way to my awareness was that this, "something" was a man. I wondered why a robber was peeing in The Boy's toilet.

The second piece of information to arrive sputtering from the hole it had burrowed to my brain was, "if this was a robber I would run." I was too tired to run so something else must be going on.

Finally, the clincher broke through the porridge announcing in a booming voice, "This is The Boy's father! He is peeing!" on a side-note it stated, "The periphery vision on the way into the bathroom was The Boy's mother, waving from the kitchen table." 

My hand was still resting on the door-handle when the toilet blocker said, "Hello!" in a sunny morning-person voice. An echo of the same exclamation came from the kitchen table behind me. I wanted to dart upstairs quickly, but I was stuck in one of those dreams where you are trying to run really fast and it feels like your legs are caught in quicksand. My body turned, I clutched the opening to the dress-shirt a little tighter together, mumbled something of a greeting and shuffled back upstairs. 

As in those dreams, my brain was running far quicker than my body and the inner panic turned me into a rare mute.** Once upstairs, I stepped into the shower with The Boy and managed to blurt out, "I met your parents." I was unaware that the phrase held none of the horror of the meeting. The Boy replied, "Good!" I replied that it was not and continued to stare at the shower head, water running down my body, unable to leave the cleansing water like that famous scene from The Crying Game.

After some time, The Boy came back upstairs to get my caboose moving. We were starting to run late, despite the fact that his parents had arrived early. We ate breakfast, rode the plane, went to pre-wedding festivities. It wasn't until The Boy and I were alone again, late that evening, that I was able to impart the horror of that morning's first greeting. His jaw dropped. He no longer wondered why I had been blushing for 12 hours straight.

Take solace in my tale, weary travelers. It is unlikely that your first mumbled greeting to your father-in-law will be uttered while staring bleary-eyed at his privates, with his wife looking on from behind. Both possibly catching glimpses of your own nether-regions through their son's hastily fastened shirt. Even less likely is that you will then be unable to escape their knowing gaze for the following 72 hours.

If you do, however, happen to find yourself in that situation, I am sorry to report that seven years later it will still haunt you. You have my sympathy.

* Due to a lifelong Napoleon complex. The Boy refers to it as my, "She-Ra Complex."

** Job matching says you should work within your skill-set. If anyone knows of a job where non-stop banter is required please let me know. Drivel quality must not be of import. 


  1. Oh gosh, Kate! At least it cannot get more awkward after that first meeting, right? ... right? :-s

    Wishing you and your family happy holidays! Sim

  2. That's true. Compared to the first minute, the next 7 years has been easy! :P Happy holidays to you too, have a lovely time with your Boy!