So I’m Engaged: Meet The Parents

As I said in a previous column, I have anxiety about people having fun and getting along, not just at my wedding, but in life. I’m a little uptight, to say the least. I worry terribly about what people close to me think — though I don’t care too much what people who don’t know me think (for example, yesterday I was wearing a dress which just exposed a teeny bit of my albeit lacy bra, and the only people whose opinion about that I was concerned with were my coworkers, not, like, the lady who makes my salad at Au Bon Pain). I really want everyone to have a blast at my wedding, but this whole engagement situation has brought up another issue that is causing me some anxiety — having M.’s parents meet mine. The whole notion gives me such butterflies, you’d think my parents and his parents were horrible freaks that should never mesh. That’s hardly true, of course. I’m going to have to get over this neurosis soon, because it’s about time everyone meets — our families are about to be blended, after all.

I’ve always feared that people who don’t have much in common and, in fact, are polar opposites in superficial ways, can’t get along.

The cast is a bit like Meet The Fockers. My parents (they’re divorced) are politically left-wing, while M.’s parents are middle of the road, fiscal conservatives. My dad is really into conspiracy theories, likes to swear, and is sort of a communist. He’s brilliant, but he’s the person in the room most likely to say something offensive. He’s done plenty of psychotropic drugs and thinks Reagan was a fascist. M.’s dad is a successful businessman (the kind of businessman that is so successful, I’m not sure I could tell you exactly what he does, but I think it has to do with corporate organizing) who I have never heard use the f-word. He loves Reagan and only smoked pot once in his life, resulting in an empty bucket of chicken. My mom is a painter and taught English as a second language for over 20 years. She works very hard and probably will work very hard into her 60s. M.’s mom was a stay at home while her kids were growing up and was an ever present figure at all sports games and ballet recitals. They both are the the nicest, coolest women on the planet — the thing they have in common is a supreme love for their children and an overall, deep kindness. Outside of that, there are very little similarities.

I’ve always feared that people who don’t have much in common and, in fact, are polar opposites in superficial ways, can’t get along, despite the fact that I am very different from a lot of my own friends. When I was a kid I vividly remember a T-shirt my dad had which said “Eat The Rich”. For some reason that slogan has stayed with me and has made me paranoid about my parent’s acceptance of people who are different from them politically, in terms of lifestyle (my dad drove a VW bus with red, green, and yellow curtains my entire childhood; M.’s dad has a beautiful new Mercedes), and in demeanor. In truth, there’s a good chance my dad won’t end up meeting M.’s parents — it’s up in the air as to whether he’ll be coming to the wedding (that is a whole separate column) — and in actuality, I don’t care that much about his opinion. But my mom means everything to me. I want her to love them, despite all of their differences. And I want them to love her because I think she’s amazing.

Last week M.’s mom said something to me that put a bit of my paranoia at ease. She said, “I really can’t wait to meet your mother. She did such a great job raising you, she must be amazing.” And that’s so true, though not in a “oh my god, I’m so amazing” way, but in a children-are-a-reflection-of-their-parents-way. How could we NOT all be one big, happy, extended, spread out all over the country family?