Friday, October 8, 2010

In which Calvin's parents don't like me

Calvin's parents didn't like me.

That was a shock.

I was not used to people not liking me when I was in college. Oh sure I knew I wasn't part of the cool crowd and in tenth grade, Sally D suddenly turned on me after I had been her BFF in ninth grade, but in general, I didn't inspire enmity in people. That I knew of.

The parents of my very short-term high school boyfriend, the one who turned out to be gay, loved me. LOVED ME. In retrospect, there were probably other factors at work, as in, they suspected their son was gay and didn't want it to be true for the sake of his desired career, which was military pilot. Even though he only kissed me once, although we spent several evenings alone at his house, watching the videos of Mork and Mindy that his uncle sent from the States, I never suspected he was gay. I thought he just didn't like kissing or he didn't like kissing me.

I digress.

Mr and Mrs Calvinpere did not like me.

I would hope it was because they didn't want their only child to marry too young and make a mistake and never have the glorious career for which he was destined and not because of me personally. I usually don't invite that kind of animosity in people.

Except for Primo's parents, of course, and his best friend from high school, George, who has also decided he doesn't like me. Many and varied are the reasons George does not like me: I blogged once that kids should be out of diapers by the time they are four; I am not Catholic enough (even though if I were more Catholic, I would not have married non-Catholic, lukewarm at best Lutheran Primo); and most recently, I pulled a practical joke on him that he did not think was at all funny and I think he is way over-reacting.

The good thing about George is that I can probably reason with him, which I intend to do. We will be in each other's lives for a long time and there is no reason for us to be enemies. Unless he decides that I am absolutely unlikeable, even after begging forgiveness for the joke, which WAS funny and had Primo's blessing. And George's wife, who also thought it was funny and if she didn't, she should have warned me AS SHE WAS HELPING ME TO EXECUTE IT.

So I will call George after he has cooled down and we will Talk About It Like Adults, which is something that could never happen with Sly and Doris, as they are not interested in liking me at all [See: I am a Bad Bacon Eater].

I would write more about George and The Joke but he is Primo's best friend from high school and he would be bothered if he stumbled on this blog. George! I like you! I want us to be friends, OK?

And if I ever write that bestselling memoir, I will not include any of the George incidents in it because of course I would write the book under my real name. Primo, who has his eye on that Key Biscayne condo, has encouraged me to publish now under a pseudonym, but what is the point of having a bestselling book if the people you went to high school with don't know about it? You know Jen Lancaster has to be feeling smug now that she is at the top of the NY Times (a New York City newspaper) list. Take that, suckers who fired me! she is probably chortling as we speak. And more power to her.

Ooops. I have strayed from my topic again.

When I met Calvin's parents, I sensed a certain coolness. I attributed it to his being somewhat of a mama's boy, although not from his end but from his mother's. He is an only child, but I don't think that is the situation his mother had wanted. He had never had a girlfriend and there had never been competition for his attentions before.

Still, they were nice enough to me. His dad built me bookcases when I moved into the loud sex apartment in Austin, which, to my everlasting shame, I broke down and threw away when I moved from Austin back to Houston because I could not fit them in my car. I could at least have called Goodwill.

But I don't think they approved of me. I can't imagine why.

I ate Mrs Calvinpere's salad
We had dinner at his mom and dad's house. The table was round and small enough that the place settings were rather crowded. I, who had worked at the faculty club for two years and had set the table for formal dinners there, looked at the salad on my left and the water glass on my right. And the salad on my right and the water glass on my left. Which salad was mine? Which water? Logic dictated that the salad that was easier to reach was surely mine. Who would have a diner reaching with her right hand across to a salad on her left? Not I! And that was when I ate Calvin's mother's salad.

At the faculty club, we served the salads by placing them in front of the diner. So much for my fine dining table waiting experience.

I flipped a crab leg over my shoulder and spattered butter on Mrs Calvinpere
They took us out to a nice restaurant. I made the huge mistake of ordering crabs' legs. How does one eat a crab leg if one is not going to pick it up with the fingers and suck the flesh out? Open it along the side using a fork, of course.

If you stick a fork in a crab leg and then begin to saw it open, you are mimicking the forces used on a tiddlywink.

So when you press down on that crab leg in just the right place with enough force, the leg flips up and over your shoulder, spinning and casting off butter as it goes. The butter lands on your boyfriend's mother and on the pink silk blouse you borrowed from your roommate.

I used the Company Towels
I was at Calvin's mom and dad's house for supper. Needed to use the bathroom. The half bath was right behind the kitchen. The half bath had nice white starched lacy towels hanging on the rack. Towels that had never been used. Towels that were obviously decorative.

But my hands were wet. From washing, duh. I do not pee on my hands. Who does? Are the hand pee-ers the ones who get so bent out of shape about other people not washing their hands? Because if you don't pee on your hands and use your foot to flush the toilet (in a public restroom, natch - it's too hard to flush a home toilet with your toes), then there shouldn't be much of an issue, right? I got over my squeamishness about this issue after living in South America for two years, where there are not hand washing facilities conveniently located next to each outhouse.

I needed a place to dry my hands, but a battle in my mother's voice raged slow motion inside my head: Dooooon't uuuuuuse the Coooooompany Toooooowels! vs I need to dry my hands!

In retrospect, I should have just wiped my hands on my pants, which is what I end up doing half the time now anyhow, as those stupid air dryers never work fast enough. Doesn't it defeat the purpose of using less energy if you have to run through four cycles of the dryer?

I used the Company Towels.

The roof did not fall in.

But the next time I was at their house, there was a small stack of paper towels next to the sink.

I got the message.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

In which Calvin and I are caught in flagrante delicto

Remember how Calvin and I finally Did the Deed, despite our pure, virginal, wait until we're married intentions?

Once that genie is out of the bottle. Well. You've been there.

Yet. We both had roommates who NEVER LEFT THE ROOM. Or, better said, roommates who commandeered the room for their own amorous purposes (RENE'), to the point that one evening, when Calvin and I returned to my room, we saw the big potted palm that usually lived in the corner of the room I shared with Rene' blocking the door to the room. (Even back in the early '80s, college students were not wearing ties, which meant the traditional tie on the doorknob was not an option.)

We stopped, confused. Then clarity hit us like a mackerel across the face during fish slapping season.

"I think this means we're not supposed to go inside," Calvin mused.

He wasn't summa and PBK for nothing.

"That's riiiiight!" sang two voices in unison from inside the room.

You see? My roommate and her boyfriend almost always had first dibs on the room. It was their love nest, even when I was there studying. I would sit at my desk, trying to concentrate on the narrative structure of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Rene' and BF would be canoodeling in the big chair that someone had found abandoned by the side of the road in West University, which is a fairly tony neighborhood as far as castoffs go, although not as fancy as River Oaks, but River Oaks people may not have abandoned their unwanted furniture on the curb the way the West U folks did.

It is not easy to concentrate on narrative structure or hidden meanings or where is the sex, which is the main question that drives almost every English major analysis of a work (if it's not sex, it's death), when your roommate is baby talking and cuddling with her boyfriend.

The amazing part of all this is that my roommate was a civil engineering major who got very nice grades and yet did not appear to put a lot of time into her studies. The necking worked for her.

And, in a way, it worked for me. Their shenanigans drove me to the library to study. I made the honor roll for the first time because I spent so much time out of my room. Who knew that a lot of concentration was the key to good grades?

Back to the ranch.

Calvin and I did not have a private place to canoodle and etc, so we were forced to take drastic action, such as necking in the empty physics lecture hall or on top of the geology building. Those are not ideal locations, though. Better to get in the car and drive to Galveston, 45 minutes away, and neck on the beach! With the bonus of being environmentally responsible!

It's not hard to get into a romantic mood when you see the beautiful brown sand and brown water of Galveston beach. Galveston: the beach for people who have never been to Florida's Gulf coast, where the water is clear and the sand is white.

It's also not hard to get into a romantic mood when you are 20 years old and don't have a mortgage or a flooded basement or are taking drugs that make your hair fall out.

One evening, driven to desperation, we did just that: hightailed it down to the beach. We found a deserted area. Parked. Got into the back seat. Stripped. Started getting busy.

When a bright light flashed through the window.

And did not go away.

We froze.

What to do? What to do?

Blinded, I felt frantically on the floor for my pants, but did not have time to put them back into their proper position, which was on my body.

A knock.

Calvin, who had not completely stripped, as such is not so necessary for a guy, opened the window a crack. This was back in the days when it was possible to open a window without the car being turned on.

A cop shone a flashlight on us.

"Evening, ma'am, sir" he said politely. This was Texas. People are polite, even if they are looking at your almost nekkid body. Your almost nekkid body to which they have never been introduced. It would have been rude to comment on our clothing status.

We stared.

"Do you have some identification?" he asked.

"Um. Yes," I answered, reaching my hand back to grab my Rice ID out of my jeans pocket.*

Only the pocket was not on my butt where it belonged but somewhere in front of me in the pants that I was holding up to cover my nekkid glory.

Calvin had already extracted his ID from his wallet. I fumbled until I found the ID and then handed it to him.

He took it, looked at it, and handed it back. "Y'all run along now, hear?" he said, probably thinking of his own college age daughter and praying she was not in the same situation.

We nodded. Waited for him to leave. Put on our clothes. Drove back to Houston. Said goodnight with a chaste kiss.

Nothing will kill the mood like a bright light.



* Wow. Was there really a time I could leave my abode with nothing more than an ID and a key?

Monday, October 4, 2010

In which Calvin forgets my birthday more than once

I am not a high-maintenance girlfriend or wife. Really, I'm not. I don't need jewelry or expensive dinners out or constant attention. I barely wear jewelry and what I wear isn't that fancy. I prefer to cook over eating out because there just aren't that many restaurant meals that are better than what I can make, plus I hate the whole ritual of Dining. It takes too long. And I definitely do not want attention all the time because I am a bit of a loner, or, at least, an introvert. I do just fine on my own.

But.

I want my birthday acknowledged.

I want a present and a fuss on my birthday.

There. I said it.

Is that wrong? Does that make me a bad person?

Primo does a great job on birthdays. He is always so excited about what is doing for me that he gives me my present early. My birthday isn't for a month, but he already gave me a new digital camera for my purse to replace the heavier, bulkier one I've had for five years. You should keep a camera in your purse because when your car gets hit and it's the other guy's fault but you get the ticket because he's a faster talker than you, you can take photos of the cars and the scene and show them to the court, who will waive your ticket, and to your insurance company, who will say, "There is no way you caused that accident" and will go after the guy for the $2,000 in repairs.

The court will also note that nobody has ever brought her own Matchbox cars to re-create the accident (who knew they had their own cars there already?) and they will admire your suit because of course you dressed nicely for court and not in sweatpants with the word "Juicy" across your ass, although perhaps in certain circumstances, that is the attire that would lead to indulgence and the winning of your case.

Calvin was not a birthday guy.

In his defense, he is a bit of the distracted scientist, thinking about relativity and circuits and Big Issues most of the time, but I wanted to be number one in his head.

I never got there. I wonder how things are with his marriage. He married one of my college roommates - a suitemate from our sophomore year. Brenda is the nicest person in the world, but needs a lot of attention. She is not emotionally self sufficient at all, or was not when I knew her well, which was in college and a couple of years after. He did not give me a lot of attention when we were dating. I hope he is giving her the attention she wants.

On a side note, Brenda is also the only person I know of who has lived the nightmare of, "Omigosh I have a 20 page paper on pig iron due tomorrow." Yep. She hadn't read the syllabus and forgot. She spent all night doing that paper and yes, it was on pig iron. This was before the internet, so it was a lot harder to research back then.

In Calvin's defense, he did get me one of the best presents I have ever gotten. For Christmas our second year of dating, he gave me my own jean jacket. Probably to keep me from borrowing his all the time. I still preferred to wear his because it smelled like him and the Polo cologne he wore, a scent that to this day makes me a bit weak kneed. I am not a big perfume/cologne person, but I make an exception for Polo.

I loved that jacket and wore it until it was threadbare. I had the collar turned and wore it some more. I wore it until it was falling apart. Finally, I got rid of it and have regretted it ever since because I have not been able to find a decent replacement jean jacket.

But my birthday.

He didn't do anything for my birthday the first year we were dating. The fact that my birthday was two days after we Did the Deed did not help matters. It also did not help matters that I took my ire out on my friends rather than on him.

The next year, he also did nothing, even though my friends, two weeks ahead of my birthday, were advising him to mark the occasion somehow. I, too, dropped many, many hints, like, "My birthday is coming!"

Birthday arrived.

Nothing.

I got mad at him this time. I had never had a birthday and a boyfriend at the same time and I wanted something special. Not necessarily an expensive present, but recognition. When I was a kid, we didn't have to do chores on our birthday. My mom made a cake and whatever meal we wanted. For one day, the birthday person was the center of attention. My freshman year of college, my mom made a cake and my entire family drove the 200 miles from San Antonio to Houston to deliver the cake and then drove back there the same night. I wanted the boyfriend equivalent of a 400 mile round trip to deliver a cake.

"But birthdays aren't important in my family," he shrugged.

"I don't care," I told him calmly, or maybe snapped. "They're important in mine and just the fact that it's important to me should be reason enough for it to be important to you." I pointed out that he could have folded a piece of paper in half and written "Happy birthday" on it and that would have mollified me somewhat.

I did not point it out in a even, reasoned voice.

Maybe I was a bit immature.

But maybe I was doing it for his future girlfriends/wife. I'm sure Brenda thanks me now.