December 2009 Yes, we are back near Christmas time. We have done our filial and filial in law duty of making the trek to chez Sly and Doris. We have cleaned their house and garage. Eaten with them. Primo has played cards with them. Watched football with them.
I did not watch football with them. I had a headache; I do not care about watching football; and I thought they might enjoy some time with Primo alone. I made a mistake, though, when I slipped into the bedroom - I did not excuse myself. I did not say, "I'm going to go into the bedroom and read. I have a bit of a headache."
They assumed I didn't want to be with them.
Which was true.
But I should have anticipated the situation and at least gone through the formality of making an excuse. Because who wouldn't want to sit in a living room with three other people and watch TV? When she does not give a darn about what is on said TV?
But I should have said something. They complained to Primo, Primo came in to get me, I ended up sitting out there having to endure a stupid football game. All because I did not strategize properly.
Two weeks after we return, when Primo has his command call, Doris tells him that I did not talk to her about her gardening magazine.
"What gardening magazine?"
Primo shrugs. "I don't know."
"She never mentioned it. I never saw it."
"She says you didn't spend enough time with her."
I drop my head back and roll my eyes. "I was with your mother every single waking hour we were there except for the two hours early that I went to Stephanie's the night we had supper over there, the couple of hours you took the kids bowling and I hung out with Stephanie and her dad, and when you and I played tennis. Other than that, I was with your mom. That wasn't enough for her?"
"She says she is trying to reach out to you and you're pushing her away."
Well. There might be something to that. But the woman looks for insult.
Last summer, when my grandmother died, Doris emailed me a condolence note, which was very sweet. I responded. Doris wrote back. Something about memories about her own grandparents. She gets very emotional. I did not want to get into that level of communication with her, but felt stuck. Yes, I know that makes me sound very cold and mean, but there is more to this story.
I replied to the email in a friendly, but not intimate way. She wrote back again. I answered. I did not want to be dismissive, but I did not want to encourage a deep outpouring on her part.
Doris complained to Primo that I had not answered her emails properly.
I showed the whole shebang to Primo.
He sighed and said, "I don't know what she's talking about. Your answers look just fine to me."
Back to December. Doris is complaining that I did not spend enough time with her. I cite chapter and verse of the hours and minutes I spent with Doris. I recount the conversations.
Primo says, "She says she's reaching out to you and you're rejecting her."
I say, "Did you remind her about the part where they told you not to marry me?"
He answers, "They* think you should be over that."
I'm not. I won't be. I don't think I should have to be.
* They have not only never apologized to us for telling Primo not to marry me but have never even mentioned the incident because you know, they didn't really mean it, so it's OK to say that sort of thing to their Only Joy two weeks before his wedding, causing him horrible stress.