Meet the In-Laws
I’m an expert at how to do things wrong. I make about every mistake you can. Here’s one: get engaged before you even meet the parents. Everyone else meets the parents and it usually goes great. If you’re already committed, meeting the in-laws can go something like this:
We drive halfway across country. Fiancee probably realizes I am not a great conversationalist. She likes to talk but knows how to be quiet too. As an introvert, I am energized by thinking about things and enjoy some downtime. The in-laws are certainly nice enough though they exist in a world in which I have little exposure. The house is on a beautiful plot of rural farm land. Parts of the structure is from the 1800’s with some addtions. The walls are covered with pictures; mostly either of Jesus, Mary, or random angels. Some of the Jesus’s don’t even look like the same person; I guess as long as someone will buy it.
I start to bond with the dad. He carries an M-1 grand military rifle over his shoulder everywhere; and I mean everywhere – even to the 7-11. I learn this is all perfectly legal as long as you don’t conceal it. He shows me the fox holes he is making in the woods with sightlines to all the roads leading to the house. He is preparing for a government siege; ahead of his time when it comes to right wing paranoia.
The first night we drive into town with in-laws heading to a restaurant. Dad and me in the front. The M-1 between us pointing in the back. Through conversation, mom subtely lays out some basic philosophy on life. Among them, breasts are bad. She recounts a movie that would have been good but was ruined when the star was shown topless. I think it was ‘Shakespeare in Love’. Gwenneth Paltrow taking her top off definitely did not ruin the movie for me. She also mentions that breast feeding is over-rated. Oh boy.
Fiancee has a number of siblings living in the area and it’s an always on the go atmosphere at this house. Not much in the way of formal meals – people get something to eat ‘on the go’. Fiancee was going shopping a lot and eating big restaurant meals and never hungry at home. I was usually back home finding something to do on the farm. I wanted to keep busy and was able to. After a couple days, I hadn’t eaten much. I didn’t care – if there weren’t any actual group meals I wasn’t going to go out of my way to find something to eat. Besides, there was a big feast planned for the next day and I was going to be some kind of hungry.
The next day comes and there are Aunts and Uncles and relatives. Lots of cooking and grilling. But first, we adjourn to the TV room to watch some home videos. Most of the rooms in the house are set up as shrines or something so there is little usable space. The TV is actually in the Foyer with a couple couches jammed in there. It’s actually good size for a foyer – but a bit awkward for a living room. So the home movie turns out to be about home slaughtering of animals. Yup, I get to watch a cow being butchered and cut apart and drained of blood and all that. I look to slip out but one exit is blocked with relatives and a couch, another has her dad in front with a loaded M-1. I lost my appetite.
On the ride home, I think about my future. I have doubts but I’m not strong enough to hurt her at this stage. It would kill her. It would be easier to murder her than break an engagement. In the back of my mind I didn’t know how I would react to it either. There was a chance my mind was tricking me into ruining my life which would be so like me. I would pass it off as cold feet. That was the path of least resistance.