September 3, 2000
Valuable *Suckage Points*


We've been summoned: David's parents have invited the two of us to "join them for dinner" this evening.

Restaurant of our choice. Their treat. Here in Alameda, so we don't have to drive all the way out to Walnut Creek. 

The invitation landed via e-mail, a couple of days ago: If you and Terry are free Saturday, will you join us for dinner? Confirmed by follow-up phone conversation: We'd love to ... but can we make it Sunday instead of Saturday?


I've been trying to ignore the screaming noises in my head, ever since.

I don't *do* parents very well. Mothers historically mistrust me on sight. Fathers historically ignore me completely. I'm OK with little sisters, older brothers, infant nephews and most family pets, unless they're trying to eat off my plate. And for some reason, grandmothers always love me. Grandmothers are always crazy about me.

But parents are another story entirely.

I'm especially not-good with potential in-laws. (Flashback to 22-year-old Secra, answering her boyfriend's door wearing nothing but his shirt and a smile. It was all downhill from there with my future mother-in-law.)

But now we're faced with this big unexpected dinner invitation, and I know that the time has come. I need to start acting like a member of the family. Even if I'm not officially *there* yet.

David and I are coming up on two years of blissful/sinful cohabitation this fall. In that time, I've met his parents exactly twice: once last summer at a family birthday celebration, then again last Thanksgiving for dinner. I talk to them by phone a couple of times a week, at least, and we're always extremely cordial towards each other ... How are you, Terri? I'm fine Mr.Ю僱êrvØ¡, how are you? ... but there just hasn't been a lot of face-to-face stuff.

I've been mostly OK with that.

No. Correction. I've been totally fine with that.

Part of that is shyness. I am painfully uncomfortable in social situations with people I don't know well. (Talk amongst yourselves, OK? I'll be over here in the corner, reading a four year old issue of Sunset Magazine.)

Part of it is insecurity. I came into this relationship as "The Internet Girlfriend" ... the mysterious woman David met online, a divorced woman who left her children ... a recovering alcoholic/drug addict/cyber junkie ... a stranger who just sort of swooped in out of nowhere and moved in with him without warning. (Plus there are unsubstantiated rumors floating around about a "web page," whatever that is, where I talk about breasts and incontinence a lot.)

That's a BIG bunch of stigma to overcome.

And part of it is plain old fashioned laziness. I want them to like me. I really, really do. I want them to think I'm good for their son. I want them to see how in love we are, and what a fabulous couple we make, and how *right* we are for each other.

I just don't necessarily want to do it in person.

There is e-mail waiting for me in my cyber mailbox this morning: Daughter #1's newest romantic interest, politely writing to congratulate me on the Diarist Awards.

"I think your site is really cool," he says. "I read it a lot even though Jaymi doesnt like me too :P Its funny reading about the things she did when she was a kid."

(Yeah? Wait'll I tell you the *Apple! Apple! Apple!* story.)

"Wow, Joel!" I write back to him."You've certainly scored some valuable suckage points. Just don't ever dump iced tea on her head, and you and I will get along just fine." 

You've gotta love a guy who zeroes in on the one compliment *Mom* is most likely to respond to. If I had just won the Betty Crocker Bake-Off, I'm sure he'd be telling me how light and flaky my pie crusts are.

He then goes on to report that Moving Day went off without a hitch yesterday: Jaymi is now out of the apartment she shared with The Boyfriend From Hell, and is safely and comfortably ensconced in a new place with a safe new roommate. (No, she's not living with Joel: her new roommate is a platonic male friend. Stay tuned.)

He further assures me that he doesn't even drink iced tea.

I think I'm going to like this kid.

David is puttering busily around the apartment this morning ... washing screens, Windexing the windows, laundering the bedding. He's got a bootleg Stones CD ("Beat Beat Beat at the BBC") blaring from the stereo. He is in an uncommonly good mood, as usual.

"At some point I'm going to have to call my mom and find out where we're meeting them tonight," he announces.

"Unless you're still feeling ill?" I say hopefully. He was felled by stomach flu yesterday, as we were running our usual Saturday errands in town: he pretty much spent the rest of the evening in the bathroom. But he assures me that no, he feels fine. He feels great, in fact. He's going to scrub the kitchen floor in a few minutes. And dinner is still "on" tonight.

Oh good.

"Do I need to dress up for the occasion?" I ask him, and he says that personally, he is trying to decide between the Motörhead T-shirt and the Blue Öyster Cult T-shirt.

(Oh good ... for real. Dinner with The Parents is one thing. Dinner with The Parents whilst wearing uncomfortable shoes and pinchy earrings is another thing entirely.)

"Be sure you 'casually' mention to your mom that I nursed you last night when you were sick," I say. I dutifully and lovingly kept him supplied with ice water and aspirin and canned peaches and forehead kisses, all evening. "And that I made you pancakes for breakfast this morning." (Whether or not we want to bring up the subject of my bright shiny new Diarist Awards remains to be seen.)

He assures me that yes, he's going to laud me to the skies and back. By the time he's done praising me, I'm going to look like a cross between Florence Nightingale and Florence Henderson.

Yes, please. I can use the suckage points.

(Hey! I wonder if Mrs. Ю僱êrvØ¡ has ever entered the Betty Crocker Bake-Off??)

one year ago: i resolve

throw a rock