June 2006 Primo has been talking about his friend Mark since I met him. They smoked pot and drank beer together in high school. Mark was in Primo's wedding to Bertha and had a little shall we say fling with one of the bridesmaids.
But now Primo's main activity with Mark is to argue about religion and to try to get me involved. Before Mark married Sue, he became quite religious. Now he and Sue are uber-Catholics, which is fine. I don't care. No skin off my back.
But Primo can't stand it and is always trying to convince Mark he is wrong. They have fierce email and phone debates and are always sending each other books, magazines and articles that support their respective opinions.
I. Don't. Care. Believe what you want, just leave me out of it. But Primo wants to enlist me to sway Mark because I am not a very good Catholic girl, at least not by what would be Mark's standards. Primo thinks that I can shoot down Mark's positions just because I do not adhere to them in my own life.
So we go to Mark and Sue's for the weekend. Actually, it's for the big party Mark and Sue throw every year, but whatever. I think it's just a casual visit. I don't realize it's a kick the tires, make sure I am worthy, 14-point inspection. Just a hey, how ya’ doing, casual thing.
We go. I meet Mark and Sue. I also meet Jim and Lorena. Other friends whom Primo has known for a long time. Jim and Lorena come over for supper on Friday. I am wiped out because we drove about six hours to get there. I don't know I am being inspected. I just know that we have finished supper, that Sue has said she needs to put the kids to bed but has not left the table, and that I am tired. They are eating raw salmon and talking about wine this tastes like stone leather fruitiness hints of rosemary ratings vineyards blah blah blah. Give me a diet Coke. I am not only tired but I am a little bit bored.
So I excuse myself, help Sue with the dishes, and then retire upstairs to our room. The room that Primo had told Mark that if Mark wanted us to visit, he would let us share. Primo refused to not share a room with me even though we weren't married so Mark could decide if he wanted to see us or not. I have some sympathy for Mark, seeing as it's his house and we're going to be around his children whom he is trying to raise with certain values, but I am not going to get involved in this.
I go into the bathroom and see Primo's travel kit hanging on the wall from the nail that Mark tried to remove once but his little boy said, "No! That's where Uncle Primo hangs his shaving kit."
Then I go to bed because I am tired.
I do not know I am supposed to stay up all night talking to people I just met. There is only so much an introvert like me can take with new people who have all known each other for years.
On Sunday, when we are driving back to my house 500 miles away, Primo mentions something casually about how Friday’s supper with Jim and Lorena had been just for my benefit. I am not really paying attention – I am trying to figure out which state has produced the most presidents. (Is it Ohio? Does anyone know? I do wish Primo had a wireless internet connection in his car.) His comment almost slips past me. “What do you mean, for my benefit?” I ask.
“Mark and Sue really needed to get the kids to bed and get ready for the party, but Jim and Lorena wanted to meet you,” he says.
“Why?” I ask. I had never heard of Jim and Lorena before the weekend, so had assumed they had never heard of me.
But this is not the case. Jim had also been in Mark's wedding along with Primo and, as it turns out, is a good friend of Primo's. They, along with a few others, had been hearing about me. Primo has never taken a chick to this party before in all the years he has been attending. Everyone was quite curious. Who was I?
I had no idea of the buzz I had created.
“Well, did I pass?” I ask. If I had known I was being tested, I might have stuck around for the after-supper conversation. SH could have warned me to act like someone nice and hospitable instead of myself.
He assures me I did indeed pass, but later, I find out that Mark doesn't really like me. There are several reasons. One of them is that I write a blog post in which I say that kids should be potty trained by the age of four. Mark takes issue with that, argues with me online, and then stops reading my blog.
Another is that I did not socialize enough. I didn't stay up all night to talk.
The last reason is I am not Catholic enough. Perhaps he thought I would set Primo on a straighter path.
In the meantime, Sly and Doris dislike me because I am too religious.