Natalie’s parents came to the house a few weeks ago. This was the first time they have been to my place since I started dating their daughter in July 2007. Her parents have taken the whole “moving-in” thing well. My mother took to the idea very well. I am pretty sure it was the combination of: a) I finally found someone I could be happy with (read: tolerates my crap) and b) I wasn’t gay. Not that it would have mattered to her but when you get to be thirty-five and single people start to talk, theories are formulated, you’re introduced to someone’s male cousin who’s also “picky.” I am reminded of a Jerry Seinfeld joke that one of the benefits to being gay is immediately your wardrobe doubles. Natalie will tell you when people asked, “why aren’t you married?” her standard answer was, “Nobody’d asked me yet.” My standard answer was, “At this point, the shock would kill my mother.”
Anyone who knows me knows I am fairly neurotic and a self-diagnosed obsessive compulsive. I made Natalie help me clean the house before her sister Brittany came to visit the first time. “You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” is policy, not just a dandruff commercial. When I find people were at the house when I wasn’t, I always ask Nat did she put the dishes in the dishwasher or at least stack the dirty ones neatly in the sink? Yes, my OCD leads me to think neatly stacked dirty dishes make a better impression than a messy pile of dirty dishes. Did she pick up the inventory from the Payless Shoe store she seems to be opening by the front door? There is a very thin line between messy and people thinking you’re one step from being homeless.
So her parents were coming and I was a little neurotic. Make sure everything is clean. Nothing is rotten in the refrigerator and they know I am feeding their daughter well and she isn’t eating cold mac & cheese over the sink with a large plastic spoon (like I was before I met her). Move the recyclables by the trash can so they don’t think it’s overflow garbage and I am too lazy to take it out. Natalie asked if we could let her parents sleep in our bed. I agreed. So we’ll be sleeping in the office on an air mattress. The first time I have slept in that room in the four years I have lived there.
Her parents were fifteen feet away in my room.
I was a little weirded out by this. Not that anything would have happened. I can’t count the times I’ve stayed at Natalie’s parents house. Depending on the sleeping arrangements, I either sleep in the extra bedroom or the office. I once slept on the couch so I could watch Inglorious Bastards after everyone went to sleep. This was when Natalie’s parents went to St Louis because even when they’re not there, it’s still their house and she respects that. The first time I stayed there, the next morning her father told me it was a privilege to be granted access to “the upper rooms.”
All week I joked that when her parents come I will show her mother the bedroom and hand her father a pillow and comforter and show him the couch. My house and thems the rules. Yeah, it’s funny but it didn’t happen because it’s funny on paper doesn’t mean it works in the execution.
I’ve talked to parents about this and often they’ll tell you “not in their house.” My friend Jon, said at lunch, he didn’t “care if his daughter had been living with her boyfriend for three years… not in his house.”
ME: What if she’d already been married, divorced, and was dating someone new?
JON: Don’t care. Not under my roof.
ME: What if she’s thirty and for ten years she’s been with a guy, they have some kids and he’s been knocking the bottom out of it?
JON: Okay. First, Elizabeth (Jon’s daughter) is ten so can we please not conjure up images of anyone “knocking the bottom” out of anything? Secondly, she tries that crap in my house someone’s going down.
KIRK: Probably Elizabeth.
JON: Shut up.
ME: Okay, what if she’s like fifty?
JON: No. I’m just going to be completely dickish about it and I don’t care.
ME: I bet Amy (Jon’s wife) overrules you on this.
JON: Probably. It happens a lot… but I don’t have to go quietly.
I remember living at home and being allowed to have girls in my room with the lights off as we watched movies, something I later completely realized was a double standard and never would have happened had I been a girl. There was a girl from high school I was involved with for several years (she who shall not be named but if you do say her name three times into a mirror she’ll appear and suck the self-esteem out of you like only a high school girl can). Sometimes she would sneak over to my house after she got off work at midnight or 1:00a (which was completely against the rules). We fell asleep once and woke at 5:00a. As quietly as possible, I attempted to sneak her out only to hear the toilet flush across the hall where my parents slept, three feet across the hall. We made it to the kitchen when we heard the bedroom door open and in my effort to be a gentleman and walk her out, I neglected to shut my bedroom door. In retrospect, my father probably would have gone back to bed but instead on noticing I wasn’t in bed at 5:00a, investigated and found us in the kitchen.
Hello, Mister Ford. How are you this morning?
Really, what are you supposed to say? I probably could have shot a man in Reno just to watch him die and gotten a shorter lecture. And I still did the same thing with another girl and got busted again. Teenage boys are fairly stupid and breasts have immeasurable power.
My friend Jessica’s former Sister-In-Law tells a story how she never snuck out of her house for fear her father would catch her. When asked how he slept the night before, he always told them how he didn’t sleep well and would often check on his daughters, sitting in their rooms and watching them sleep. Years later her mother told her none of this was true. Her father invented the story and started telling them this when they were young so they wouldn’t sneak out.
Simply brilliant. I am so doing that.
I respect her parents and even though they are not naive people, I offered to Natalie that I would sleep on the couch if that makes them more comfortable. Natalie vetoed it immediately.
Her house. Thems the rules.