Friday, October 14, 2011

Word to the Wise: Think twice about where you arrange for the parents to meet the parents...

No, not me (yet...), but please enjoy this story from my great friend John who recently went through this whole ordeal in a shall-we-say "magical" manor...

Jessie and I were emailing back and forth about my recent trip to Florida and I said: “You know where is NOT a very good place for your parents to meet your significant other’s parents for the first time? Walt Disney World. I should write about it on your blog.”

And that’s how it started. Seconds later I emailed back and said: “Actually can I try and write it up? I think it would be fun.” Jessie was hesitant at first. She isn’t going to turn the reigns over to just anyone. So I bought her this $5 a Day Bank I saw in Sky mall, and that’s how I end up on your computer today. (If you don’t get why she’d like this, can I point your browser here… AFTER you read this post of course!)

So for the last two years I’ve been dating Jessie’s roommate Mike… err… M. (I always like how Jessie refers to “R” in her entries. So my boyfriend will now go by M. It’s very Judi Dench in James Bond…) So when M and I decided to run the Epcot Wine and Dine Half Marathon together and both of our parents announced they’d be coming down to cheer us on we realized one of the watershed moments in our relationship would soon be upon us…


This seemed like a big deal to me. Sure I had met his family and he had met mine, so the two families meeting each other felt like the last piece of the puzzle finally falling into place. M was more reserved: “So they’ll meet each other. It’s not a big deal.”

Now I don’t know how this Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah moment usually happens in relationships, but my guess is it doesn’t usually happen while literally listening to Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah and I wanted our moment to be perfect.

In some ways, Walt Disney World seemed a perfectly natural first meeting ground -- it is the happiest place on earth, after all. What nobody remembers when they look back at their vacation photos is just how huge Walt Disney World is and just how hot Florida can get.
Making matters worse, just before her trip down my mother ruptured a disc in her neck which meant she’d have to skip Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and settle for the wild ride she’d get by taking a Disney bus after popping 2 Vicodin.

So before I tell you how our parents’ meeting went, let me just lay out my two main points in more detail:

Walt Disney World is HUGE – This becomes an issue in two ways. First, if have trouble walking for long periods of time (which, with a ruptured disc, trust me, you would) it will hold your group up. Even if everyone says: “Of course we don’t mind stopping to sit down every 15 feet!” Don’t believe them. They mind.

Size also means that there is a lot to do. So my parents might want to rest by the pool while M’s parents want to ride Space Mountain. Or vice versa. You can’t move as a big group and please everyone.

Florida can be HOT – This is an issue for everyone – not just people who are heavy sweaters. First impressions count for a lot and it’s hard to create the perfect one when you’re melting like the Wicked Witch of the West.

This is also an issue for me in particular because my stepfather sweats. A lot. I’d use the whole “he sweats like a whore in church” joke but I think a whore in church would be put off by the pool of sweat that follows him. Think of that swirl of dust around Pig-Pen in PEANUTS. If that was sweat (and Pig-Pen had less hair), he’d be my stepfather.

So as the moment of their initial meeting drew closer my anxiety rose. What stories from my youth would my mother – high on painkillers and exhausted from an early flight – drop? Didn’t she know the old saying: “Loose lips sink (relation)ships”? Or even worse, would M’s parents slip and fall in the pool of sweat trailing my stepfather?

This could be cataclysmic. But it wasn’t.

Like most things I worry about, it all ended up fine. We had lunch inside an air-conditioned restaurant (curbing the sweat problem) and my mom, it turns out, handles painkillers better than Liza Minnelli. (Her lunchtime rendition of “Cabaret” should have won her a Tony and Oscar, too!)

[Side Note: For those keeping score at home, that’s a Wizard of Oz , Dame Judi Dench and Liza Minnelli reference all in one post. How did it take my parents 18 years to figure out I was gay?]

I’ve come to realize that the only “pressure” on this meeting going well came from me.

And, looking back, that’s just silly. Both my parents and M’s parents know how much we love each other. (M just threw up reading that… he even hates written PDA!) Everyone wanted the meeting to go well and guess what? It did.

Yes, there were awkward silences. Yes, I had heard some of my stepfather’s jokes before. But we all left the weekend wishing we could have spent more time together – which I think qualifies it as an unabashed success.

Before we headed down to Florida I told M I was nervous about our parents meeting and he told me to not waste time worrying about it. He assured me that it’d be a great weekend. Now I don’t usually say this so I hope Mike.. errr, M… enjoys it now:

You were right.

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