Saturday, November 29, 2008

Millions of Turkeys, Turkeys for me

Posty posty! I am here at my parents' house, having finished the familial Saturday dinner followed by a semi-familial movie. My entire immediate family all moved back to this town, and we are all equally boring and have no lives, and so they all come over to mom and dads' and eat dinner together every Saturday. Then the men of the family go off and be anti-social in different sides of the house (usually each on a computer or tv) while the women (the gals?) watch something off Netflix. For years and years now, if I don't call them on Sat. before their movie starts, either before or after I go out (and a couple times at a break in my evening festivities), I get immense whining about how I am such an unfilial child (though they have never once used "filial" as a term) and ungrateful and that is why I have not finished my PhD. I at least have them trained not to freak out and start calling me on every available number and leave frantic messages about how they are about to call the local police, because, yo! dudes! whether I'm at a movie or a dinner date or hanging out with friends, that really breaks the flow, you know? And some people like to go out and do something on their Saturday, what a concept!

All of this is to say, especially when you compare my side of the family with the other people at that wedding earlier this month: I can see where my unsociable sit-like-a-lump-ness comes from, awright? If we had a family plaque for our name it would not read The Cogs but The Wallflowers.

But the drama this week is that my niece has a boyfriend and she asked to bring him over to the grandparents' house for dinner for the first time, and my parents said yes of course, even though they were shocked and disappointed and very displeased with the situation. Evidently this is someting either so obvious they should never even need to be asked about it, or not intuiting all the rules yourself means you are an unfilial and disrespectful descendent. So I sorta told them (my parents) off a bit, and said if it bothers you and is rude, then tell her, because she thinks it is fine, because you said "it was fine." Really! And what's so terrible about having a boyfriend over, I said, isn't it the rules back from when dinosaurs ruled the earth that the boy has to come over and meet the parents and ask the father for permission to go steady?

Oh, well, the immediate family, that's perfectly ok, they tell me. It should be welcoming, a "my house is your house" kind of thing, they say (and they did not say, but I remember from high school, that if you are in their house with a boyfriend they like it because they can watch very closely over the two of you) --- but bringing a boyfriend over to the grandparents' house, that is a different thing --- I don't see how the younger generation could be so different these days. You would never bring a high school boyfriend over into your grandmother's house, would you?

Um. Mainly because she lived her whole life in the Midwest and we only flew out to see her once a year at Christmas, yes. But that's because it would be a big deal to ask for a boyfriend to commit to plane fare and lodging and ask people to help him travel out there and whatnot, and plus there is special Grandma Time when you only see someone once a year, which totally doesn't count as special Pilgrimage Time when you come over every weekend, right? So I guess the rule is that boyfriends and friends are welcome in the parental house but grandparents shouldn't be burdened with the knowledge of these people until an actual wedding? It's just weird. The whole "secret rules which you will be punished (or shunned) for not instinctively intuiting and following without being told anything specific" thing is very familiar, though. But not consistent --- that would only happen half the time and the other half would involve very explicit laying down of rules through yelling. Bellowing, perhaps gets at it better.

Anyway, I've now met the boyfriend and I pretty much approve --- he is talkative and has a bit of sarcastic wit that matches well with what we have in the family, so I think he will fit in (if, that is, he is allowed to return to the grandparental family home ever again). But my niece kinda irked me a bit ---- she was hanging all over him at the dinner table and constantly trying to redirect the conversation back around to herself or the fact that she had a boyfriend --- I should add that my dad's birthday is tomorrow, so we were celebrating it tonight. So it's not really her night to steal the limelight. (Which, come to think of it, seems like a good reason for saying no, you can't bring your boyfriend over to meet everyone tonight. If my parents had put it that way, I totally would have seen their point. As it is, it seems you can't introduce anyone to your grandparents unless you're about to get a ring.)

In other news, I've been good --- better than when I was back at my place --- about going out to a coffee shop and working on the article for a couple hours every day this week. I have not been getting much progress on it, but I guess even infinitesimal progress is better than all those weeks I wouldn't even look at it at all, right? I also have graded about half of this stack of crap, oops, brilliant and keen analytical insights, and hemmed some pants I bought a while ago (the curses of being short. At least mom has a sewing machine.) About the thanksgiving dinner, the less said the better. I will only say that my mother's predilection for heating things up rather than actually cooking stuff is getting more pronounced with time. And that a lifetime of chain smoking is probably partly to blame for diminished taste. And her hypertension problems mean that she doesn't put salt in or on anything she cooks anymore --- last night she microwaved plain frozen mixed vegetables until they were limp and then served them as is. Did you know they have low-salt margarine substitute? Be afraid.

Remind me, if I forget when I go back to GradSchoolLand, that I have some half-thought out posts about writing essays, and grading them, as well as some movies for discussion. Right now I think I'm going to go to bed.


Susan said...

So how old is this niece? I think bringing your boyfriend over to meet your family is kinda sweet -- but would have produced in me enormous anxiety!

k8 said...

Ah, family life! I both love and hate the unwritten rules. I like having inside information, but when I discover that I really don't regarding some particular thing, I feel left out.

On a totally frivolous note, I have kitty pics over at my place!