It’s always awkward to meet the parents of your girlfriend when you’re dating someone because you’re indicative of their daughter growing up and you’re likely doing things with their daughter that they’d prefer not think about and if you’re being upright and honorable you’re going to marry her and take her away from them.
The first time I really had to do that was when I met Julie’s parents in the late 1990’s. Julie’s father was, among other things, a fireman. I’d heard horror stories about firemen fathers. One such dad took his daughter’s suitor for a tour around the house and pointed to one of those firemen axes and suggested that it was his tool for dealing with dishonorable suitors. Julie had also described her dad as a big and muscular man.
I’ve always done well with older people, though, and it turned out not to be much of an issue. They liked me from the outset at least in part because I was so much better than her previous boyfriend. They accepted me as part of the family very quickly and let me sleep over on a regular basis. When things turned sour between Julie and her folks, they still liked me right up until I broke their daughter’s heart.
Despite the getting along, though, I was never really one of them. They were blue collar folks. When not a fireman Mr. Bernard was a pipe-fitter. Mrs. Bernard worked a white collar job, but in more of a secretarial capacity. Blue collar I’m not. I always thought about and talked about things that they found utterly uninteresting. They smiled and nodded, but they never really “got” me. Anything philosophical was lost on them (and was, to a lesser extent, lost on Julie as well). When she and I split up and I was replaced by Tony, he was much more up their alley.
Evangeline’s parents and I had the opposite disconnect. They were philosophical and airy, but they didn’t have their feet on the ground at all. Her father walked down Main Street dressed as Elvis from time to time and squandered his good living buying a theater for his improv group. Her mom was one step away from being insane.
Clancy and I met and became super-serious in double-quick time, so by the time her parents we were already a very serious things. In ordinary circumstances I wouldn’t have dreamed that there would be a problem. Unfortunately, I was an unemployed IT guy looking to marry their doctor of a daughter. Clancy and Professor Himmelreich had already discussed being on the lookout for men that might be interested in marrying her for money and I almost completely fit that profile to anyone that didn’t know me.
Looking back from her folks’ perspective, Clancy had always had very sound judgment. She wasn’t the type to get swept up by a charismatic would-be cabana boy. They figured that anyone their daughter liked would be a good guy and came into it ready and wanting to like me. It turned out to require little effort on either of our parts. Dr. H and I got along instantly despite my unemployed status. Having no sons of his own, he was quick to view me as such. His other son-in-law at the time was a Russian-Ukrainian immigrant with a spectacularly different background and they’re still close even after the divorce, but I fit into the “son” mold much more easily.
I was never the least bit worried about Clancy meeting my folks. They’d met Julie and liked her alright, though Mom was convinced that Julie was intimidated by them (she wasn’t, she was just really, really quiet around people she didn’t know). Mom never took a liking to Eva, which was fine, because Clancy was the anti-Eva. Dad even managed to seem to like my sister-in-law Brynne, which was more than most of us can manage. Clancy was a little worried about what my outspoken mother would think but was confident that she and my father would get along.
It turned out that she had a much easier time with Mom than with Dad. Dad is a quiet person with a hard shell to crack sometimes. You often really don’t know what he thinks of some people. Mom is one of the most outgoing people I know and we got good vibes there immediately.
The real hitch was, though, that she was going to be taking me away from them, across the country to Deseret. That’s a hard sell to any parent. The week after everyone met everyone, Mom came into my room and said, “We need to talk about Clancy.”
“Yes. Hold on to that girl, hold on to that girl, hold on to that girl!”
As far as Ghostland posts go, this is the most anti-climactic that I have ever written. Given the subject matter, that’s a really good thing.