Tuesday, February 9, 2010

In which Primo promises me that his parents will never live with us

September 2008. Our wedding week. Our wedding night. Sly and Doris have been at our house for a week. Is that right? They arrived on Saturday. It's Friday. Yes, we marry on a Friday. It's a lot easier to get the pastor and the priest on Friday afternoon, especially when you have inadvertently requested a high-demand priest.

And we don't care about a big shindig. Primo's already been there and done that and paid for it all and then realized ooops! Shouldn't have done that!

I've never cared about having a big deal wedding, although I love attending them. My friend the pediatrician had a particularly fine wedding I must say, and so did my Alabama Belle. I have nothing against them - I just never wanted one for myself.

But yes - we have a low-key ceremony with family only. We have had houseguests for a week. Yes, I was insane. Actually, I was not insane. I was ignorant and spoiled by my friends and family, who are all extraordinarily well behaved and wonderful houseguests who do not expect me to be their maid, on-demand chef, and entertainer. I've always thought that the houseguest's responsibility was to fit into the rhythm of the household and accomodate herself to the host's schedule and habits. I didn't realize it was the host's responsibility to cater to the guest's every whim.

But that's how it's been with Sly and Doris. Primo spends Sunday and Monday entertaining them. He told them before they set their travel dates that he had to work Tuesday and Wednesday so he could take Monday, Thursday and Friday off. Yet they whine and complain on those days that they are sooo bored. Our TV is in the basement, so they can't watch TV. Soooo bored. Considering I have gone most of my life without TV, I am not sympathetic with two highly educated, self-proclaimed intellectuals who cannot go two days without television.

We have been in the house only a few months, so have not finished unpacking.* Which means we (=Primo) do not have a stereo set up yet. Primo hauls a stereo up from the basement and sets it up in the living room so his mom and dad can listen to something so they won't be booooooooored.

They are staying in our bedroom because they cannot take stairs. Our room is the only one on the first floor. I can't complain too much about that one. When we gave them a tour of the house upon arrival, they did struggle up to the second floor. On her way back down, Doris fell down the last two stairs. My horrible thought was, "Oh no! What if she broke her hip and has to stay here for six months?" Yes. Shameful, I know.

They demand a newspaper every morning. Well, not demand, exactly, but kind of whine about it. Why don't we get a newspaper? Because we only get the weekend issue and read the rest online. Fine. I get them a paper copy every morning.

They demand attention. I cook a full meal every night, which is not our usual habit. Then I sit there while they eat it. Slowly. Excruciating. Then Primo and I clean the kitchen. Well, Primo loads the dishwasher and does almost all the work, but I spend as much time as possible in the kitchen because I do not want to be with them. Then they want to socialize some more. Alcohol is involved in all of this. After I excuse myself to go to bed, they complain to Primo that I do not spend enough time with them.

On Thursday, my mother, my mother's gentleman caller, my brother and sister, Primo's stepdaughters, Claudia and Chloe, and Primo's brother Ted arrive. I am picking people up from the airport. I am cooking. I am taking people to hotels. I am cooking. I am changing sheets in the upstairs guest room so my mom can sleep there. Primo and I shift to the pullout bed in the basement. I cook more.

Yes. I am insane. I should have told people to find their own food, but even if my family and the stepdaughters had fended for themselves, Sly and Doris would have expected to be fed, even though they don't eat lunch, as we all know. So as long as I was cooking for them anyhow, I might as well cook for everyone.

I should have told people to rent cars, but it seemed so wasteful. I can't stand for someone to have to spend money on something like that when it's not necessary.

So I turn myself into an innkeeper/driver/chef for a week. The week of my wedding.

How dumb was that?

It wouldn't have been so bad with my own family, Ted, Claudia and Chloe because they are the kind of houseguests I have known: they help. They make life easier. They see what needs to be done and they do it. If the dishes are dirty, they wash them. If the table needs to be set, they set it. If there is a meal that needs to be prepared, they cook or get takeout.

But Sly and Doris create work. They demand. They whine.

And by Friday night, I have had enough.

And so has Primo.

On our wedding night, as we lie in our pullout sofabed in the basement, the sofabed that we have discovered is not the most comfortable bed in the world and for which we owe an apology to our friends who've had to sleep on it, exhausted not only from a long day but from a week of dealing with Sly and Doris, he turns to me and gives me the best present he has ever given to me and ever will give to me.

"They will never live with us," he tells me. "Never."

* May I note for the record that I am finished unpacking. Primo is not finished unpacking. As the daughter of a career air force officer, I have moved about 40 gajillion times in my life, including maybe 20 times since college. I know how to move.


  1. I love this! You're a wonderful writer.

    Man, I'm so sorry about this invasion of "guests". But, it's truly excellent that Primo accepts and realizes the "pain in the ass" nature of his parents. My best friend's MIL comes to stay for a month at a time. That woman will actually settle herself on the sofa and call out commands. Unreal. And my friend's husband doesn't seem to realize how bad it is!

  2. That one promise hopefully made it all worth it. And I agree with you about houseguests!