Primo and I went to Austin last weekend for my brother's 50th birthday. My sister organized the party from afar and it was wonderful. I saw friends I had not seen since high school. Yes, high school. My brother and sister found one of their junior high friends a few years ago and now they are all tight as thieves again, just as they were when we lived in the Panama Canal Zone. Adele flew to Austin from Seattle for the party.
My sister also invited other family friends from the Canal Zone who now live in Texas. I had become facebook friends with William, whom I used to babysit, but had not seen him or his parents for over 30 years.
Primo and I got to the party. Primo saw Adele and went to inspect the beer with her - they had met earlier that day - and I saw Mike, my brother's best friend from high school, who is my mom's son from another mother, which does not sound as good as my brother from another mother, but that's how the relationship was.
Then I introduced myself to a group of people standing in front of the food - I realized that being polite to them was the only way I was going to get anything to eat - and they laughed and said, "But Goldy! Don't you recognize us?"
It was William, who is now an adult, not a cute little blonde kid in diapers, and his dad. Holy smoke. Thirty years can change a person. I guess it changed me, but they recognized me. William's dad no longer has hair, so that might be part of it, plus I was not expecting to see them there.
I saw Mike's ex-wife and his two daughters and met the ex-wife's new husband. I met some of my brother's Austin friends.
And then a new person arrived.
An attractive woman bearing what turned out to be a fabulous appetizer. (Try these - you will not regret it. I am making them on Wednesday when some friends are coming over for dinner.)
My brother introduced her to me. Nicole. "This is my girlfriend, Nicole," he beamed.
My brother has not introduced a girl to us since we were in college.
I know he has had girlfriends since, but Nicole is the first one ever to make it to a family event.
This was big.
My sister and I tried not to be too obvious as we checked her out. We were subtle. We just had normal, Oh hey how are you conversation. Raved about the appetizer. Asked her where she's from. Asked how she and our brother met.
We brought Primo and my brother in law into the conversation.
Talked about Nicole's dog, who died a few years ago. Where she was born. What she usually does for the holidays.
I deliberately didn't ask what she does for a living because that seems kind of rude and reductive, but then she mentioned that she is - hmm, what is a good fake job that is as good as her real job? - in charge of restoring historical public buildings. Yes. Her real job is that cool. She is an architect by degree, I think, which is what my brother studied as well.
She is NICE. She likes my brother, even though she has seen his house. (He is a little bit cluttered, although not in the main living areas.) She likes my brother's dog. She was gracious and poised as her boyfriend's sisters, mother, and brothers in law descended on her.
We saw her again the next morning when we all met at my brother's house for breakfast.
She was still cool.
I know I should have ignored her. I should have met her and then figuratively turned my back, not asked her any questions about herself, not exhibited any interest in her at all. I should have started trash-talking my family in front of her. I should not have asked her about her family, about where she's from, about what she likes to do, about her work, about anything.
I should have been completely uninterested. After all, that's how Primo's family is. Isn't that the right way to be?
(Can you tell I am a bit cranky about Primo's family right now? His mom and dad are causing more drama and I don't know where it's going to end. Let's just say that I do not believe them that they will actually consider assisted living, even though they say they have found some places to visit. I know this is going to turn into drama that Primo will have to resolve and that will cost us money and it is making me cranky.)
I know how I should have treated her, according to the Sly and Doris School of Sibling/Children Significant Others.
But Sly and Doris are wrong and Nicole is LOVELY and my sister, Primo, and my brother in law and I voted and we told my brother MARRY HER. WE LOVE HER. We would be so happy to have Nicole in our family. Cross your fingers. I want this to work.
(They have only known each other two months, so it is way too early to decide about marriage - but it could work!)