I’ll never forget the moment just before I met William’s parents. We had only been dating for a few weeks, but since his parents live in Louisville, Ky., this would be my only chance to see them until April. That seemed like an awfully long time to date someone without meeting their parents, so I conceded to a pre-Thanksgiving dinner.
We were sitting in the parking lot at The Mews Tavern in Wakefield, when I turned to him and said, “I am so nervous.”
Now, a sensible person would try to alleviate my concerns. He would tell me it’s silly to be nervous, that they’re sure to love me.
But no, that is not what happened.
“I know ... I’m really nervous, too.”
It turns out that the nonexistent sensible person would have been right. I hit it off with them right away, and in the eight visits I’ve had with them since, we’ve actually grown pretty close, especially considering they live so far away. I wish they lived closer, which I think must be a pretty good sign, based on all of the “in-law” jokes floating around out there.
This weekend, though, there were enough nerves to go around.
Round 1: Brunch
For the past month, I’ve known that William and his parents were planning on coming to my Aunt Donna’s house. My mom’s side of the family is pretty small, and over Thanksgiving, they had already met both my sisters, my brother-in-law, princess Lilly and my Uncle Mike. In total, that left only five new people: Aunt Donna, Uncle Bill, Max and Gladys. Not too overwhelming at all.
The fifth person was my dad, which was an introduction I totally blew. Not long after we stepped in the door and I made the initial introductions, Lilly was running out the back door to find the golden egg (a large woven egg filled with goodies). I chased after her, camera in hand, and essentially left Tom and Kathy in the dust. As an aside, I can call them Tom and Kathy here, because they’re not next to me, but despite their protests I absolutely cannot bring myself to call them by their first names to their faces. Call me old fashioned, but it’s a hurdle I haven’t been able to overcome.
Anyway, so I was snapping away at Lilly when my dad silently snuck into the backyard. William’s attention was also focused on Lilly (because really, why wouldn’t it be?) and my dad ended up introducing himself. He introduced himself as Bob, and for several minutes, neither Tom nor Kathy had any idea who exactly Bob was or why they should care. When I sauntered over, embarrassed at my lack of hosting abilities, my “dad” greeting gave it away. That flub aside, the families merged seamlessly and it was a fun, laidback brunch.
Round 2: The big one
Also seamless, but still a significant milestone, was the introduction of Tom and Kathy to my mom. I don’t think Tom or William, or my dad for that matter, got much of a say between my mom and Kathy. Those two were fast friends, and the conversation covered everything from childhood homes to embarrassing moments. Another successful check off the list.
Round 3: What was her name?
This is really the motivation behind writing this column. I talk often of my sisters and my immediate family, but what you may not know about me is that my family is actually quite large. My dad is one of five, and his mother is one of eight, so Fraser family gatherings can get pretty crowded.
William and I had talked prior to Easter and decided that the Frasers might be too much in one day. Not personality wise, or anything, but that’s a lot of people to take in, in one day. Once my dad got his hands on Tom and Kathy, though, the plans changed. He insisted that they should come to my cousin Erin’s house, and when I whispered to him that I hadn’t asked Erin in the first place, he brushed me off and assured me that bringing unexpected guests would be no imposition. When I called Erin with my tail between my legs, sheepishly asking if it would be a problem, she relayed that Uncle Bob (my dad) had already called and informed her of the situation. It wouldn’t be a problem, right?
It’s all in how you phrase the question.
Preparing them for what was to come was futile. Prepping them on names would have done more harm than good, as the guest list included grandma, my four aunts, two uncles, seven cousins, six Frasers, two significant others, one baby and grandpa’s best friend.
Right before we walked in the door of Erin’s, I saw myself in Tom and Kathy’s faces. They were feeling that fear I felt in the parking lot of The Mews.
And my words of comfort?