Cafe Hitch-hike


Meet the family

Last St. Patrick's Day, I got to meet the parents of my boyfriend. It wasn't as dreadful as I thought it could be. I had even seen his mother a couple times after that, and she was still quite nice. Well, four months later, I got to do more. I got to meet the family.

John's sister was visiting here from Ireland, and their brother was having a going away party because she was leaving over the weekend. At first, I thought it was no big deal, but then I remembered bits and pieces John told me about his family.

The relationship, at best, is strained. John is the black sheep of the family. He had a divorce (they're Irish Irish-Catholic, divorce is worse than murder and next to impossible to get in the Irish Republic), he makes less than 80K per year, and failed to be the carbon-copy of his father that he was expected to be as first-born son. When he entered the house, he didn't get a warm reception at all, and I could clearly see and feel the strain was real.

I kept in perspective that John and I met at a gathering for people whose parents were alcoholics. Imagine living your childhood in a bar, with parents constantly drunk and carrying about in that state? The parents and their drinking are pretty much at the center of the family life. We both came from similiarly screwed-up families, and were the sheep who ran away (never mind strayed) from the flock. We ran away so we wouldn't go crazy or drink ourselves into oblivion.

At first, I felt so awkward that I didn't know what to do. His nieces and nephews were not that nice to him. The sister from Ireland was about as warm as a cold rock, so I just stayed away from her and managed to find a sister-in-law who seemed more approachable.

Another sister-in-law joined into our conversation and it didn't take me long to figure out she was the chatty one of the family, probably the one wanting to get the dirt. One of the first things she asked was, "how did you and John meet?"

I told half the truth: "we met at a church on Christmas day."

Later that night, John said, "she doesn't believe you."

Yes, we met at a 12-step meeting that was held in a church on Christmas day. I tell most people the 'church' bit.

It was nice to see others eventually folded into the conversation. I even talked to his brother Joel who I briefly met 3 months ago. When I was talking to his wife, she already knew a little about me. Haha, it was nice to know that I was talked about.

All the talking got me wound up. I was able to make people laugh. I was engaging, charming (so I'd like to think, or maybe it was out of sheer nervousness). The folks seemed genuinely interested in meeting me, even if it were short. The interesting thing was that as people talked to me, they started talking to John, even the kids who looked at him like he were sasquatch.

We stayed long enough to eat, chat a little, and then ran. I recalled it was 4 months ago I met his parents, so maybe on average I'd only have to deal with them 3 or 4 times a year? Cool, I can handle that. I handle my family with similiar timing, so maybe John could handle that if he ever gets to meet them.

John has yet to meet anyone in my family and I certainly haven't been pressing that one. My family is rough around the edges and I can accurately predict they'll give him a hard time.

It's tough to know that John had it rough in his family, just like mine. It was also easy to imagine the tongues of some of his relatives wagging: "hey, how old do you think she really is? where do you think she really is from, she looks pretty foreign after all? where did they really meet, can't be a church!"

I've met the families of boyfriends in the past. Alot of times it was because we started as friends, and either I already knew the family or I got to know them in the 'friends' phase. I had never met them when the relationship had already been going on for some time, so that was probably why meeting them felt weird. I also never dated anyone with a family as screwed up as mine (I usually dated people from normal families). I guess I can only say that it's only beginning and at least things started out alright.

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