With Dating, Some Things Never Change
Little known fact: The Spanish Inquisition started when a young woman took a boy home to meet her parents. It escalated from there.
As a young man, nothing will frighten you more than meeting the parents of your girlfriend, especially the father. That moment you are introduced, hand outstretched, and it’s grasped in the vice-like grip of a man who knows what you want to do to his daughter. His thoughts, whether real or imagined, your knuckles crunch just the same.
It never changes, even as we grow older. Dating after divorce, you may not have to meet their parents, but worse still, meet their children. And there may be more than two; I don’t know how Mr. Brady did it with such ease. Maybe, that’s why Tiger the dog disappeared after season one.
Almost nine years ago, my sister’s husband passed away. Marty was a remarkable man and not enough could be said here to do him justice. My sister, though never alone with such an intrusive family, such as ours (yes, I said intrusive), did not date much. No one needed to be vetted. That is, until recently.
There are no parents for this new man to meet, and her sons are scattered around the globe. That leaves her siblings. My brother, and myself. When my sister stated that she wanted this man to meet the family, I offered to be introduced first. This way, he could ease into the awkwardness which comes with meeting the family. I would be the gateway drug. In our family, I’m marijuana, whereas my brother is straight-up, crack cocaine.
A few years ago, on Easter, the entire family had dinner in a large house my sister’s church used as a retreat. I sat at the dining room table, back toward the door, telling a story to about twelve people who sat across from me. Suddenly, in mid-sentence, the entire group stood up, as if rehearsed, and walked to the front door. My brother walked in, and all went to pay their respects. It was a scene straight out of the Godfather; turns out, I’m Fredo.
This was the lion who’s den my sister and her new friend were about to enter.
That den turned out to be a local restaurant where my brother and sister-in-law waited.
Side note, for those who may find themselves in a similar situation as my sister. Don’t put that you don’t drink on your dating profile if when you walk into the local restaurant the bartender yells from across the room, “Hey, Diane, the usual?”
After initial introductions concluded, my brother assumed his normal position. Slightly pushed away from the table, he sat, arms folded, and stared over his glasses, glasses that sat low on the edge of his nose.
My sister’s friend immediately confessed to the Lindberg kidnapping, the JFK assassination, and any unsolved crimes they wanted cleared from the books. If the police arrived at that very moment to drag him away, he wouldn’t have resisted.
Instead, my sister-in-law explained:
“If this was any other person,” she said, pointing to my brother, “you would rightly assume he was mad at you. But he’s not mad at you. This is his normal.”
By all accounts, the rest of the interrogation went well, and my brother approved. It’s nice when a woman in her sixties has the approval of her brother to date. Next, she will ask if she’s allowed to stay up ‘till midnight on New Year’s Eve.
A few days later, I met the man, in a much less dramatic fashion. My sister’s kitchen. I also gave my approval, but in hindsight, I realize, no one actually asked for it.
Although, I will provide some unsolicited advice to my sister’s new boyfriend: grow a pair, and stand up to my brother; don’t let him bully you.
Who am I kidding, I’m fifty-nine years old and my brother still scares the crap out of me.