Saturday, January 16, 2010

In which Doris gets angry that she and Sly are not in the wedding photos

Autumn 2008 Primo and I are married. Despite the Drama that starts with D that rhymes with T and stands for Trouble.

At the wedding, which is a quick little Lutheran ceremony* conducted at Primo's church with Father T in attendance to give it the Catholic imprimatur, my mom takes photos. Lots of photos. After the wedding, my mom takes photos. Sly and Doris have a camera. Ted has a camera. My sister has a camera. Claudia has a camera. Everyone has a camera, pretty much. Not everyone uses his camera, though.

Then we depart for the lake, where we are going to take more photos. It is a prettier backdrop than the inside of Primo's little cinderblock (but with a heart) church.

Sly and Doris ask Ted to take them back to the house. They don't want to go to the lake.


They don't have to go. They're grownups.

Doesn't matter that we have packed a small picnic of cheese and sausage and wine.** Doesn't matter that we thought it would be fun to show our city's beautiful lakefront to everyone.


Ted says OK, he'll take them.

They go to the house. We go to the lake and take more photos.

A few weeks later, my mom sends me the best shots, maybe a dozen. They are of Primo and me, either alone or with Father T and Pastor G, with my brother and sister, with Ted, with Claudia and Chloe, with my mom and Dr J, her gentleman caller.

Sly and Doris are not in any of the photos.

Because Sly and Doris 1. did not ask to be in any of the photos and 2. did not come to the lake, where most of the photos were taken.

I think they might like to have copies, even though I am in them, so I email the photos to them. They can edit me out and have Primo-only pictures.

A few days later, Primo tells me that Doris is upset that she and Sly are not in any of the pictures.

What! I exclaim.

She's really unhappy. Why aren't they in any?

Because THEY DIDN'T ASK? I suggest. Because they didn't go to the lake with us so THEY COULD DRINK INSTEAD?

I point out that not only did they not ask anyone to take a photo of them with us, but that they HAD THEIR OWN CAMERA and DID NOT TAKE A SINGLE PHOTO WITH IT.

I guess they have nobody to blame but themselves, he shrugs.

I should never have sent those photos, I fume.

* Oh how I love German efficiency. I will be a Catholic until the day I die, but Italians, they are not so concerned about Getting Things Done.

** But we didn't pack bourbon. And that's what they want. Because when they arrive at the restaurant for the wedding supper a couple hours later, we can tell they have a good head start on the drinking. How can they endure this event sober?

Friday, January 15, 2010

In which my mother puts us in the same room

Thanksgiving 2006 My mother has already met Primo, but this is our first visit to her house.

Wait. Have I told you about the first time my mom met Primo? I don't remember and I don't want to back out of writing this to read my archives. If I don't remember, then you, my treasured reader*, probably do not remember either. I took him to a family reunion type event.** We had been dating for about ten months. My mom came over, exclaimed, "You must be Primo!" hugged him, then dragged him away, saying, "Come tell me all about yourself!" My mom loooooves Primo. My mother, woman of great manners and great taste.

So. We fly to a nearby city and rent a car to drive the 90 miles to my mom's. There is an airport in my mom's city and she would pick us up, unlike some other parents whom I shall not name and it is not a sore spot at all with me that it should cost us so much money, tickets plus renting a car, to make a visit I do not even want to make (to the parents I shall not name) but whatever. We are flying to the nearby city rather than my mom's city because of frequent flyer miles or connections or something like that. Can't remember.

Anyhow. Because of flight delays, we do not get to my mom's until 2:00 a.m. Primo asks what the sleeping arrangements will be and I tell him that there is a guest room in the basement (which is finished and opens to a patio, so is it really a basement?) and the last time I brought a boyfriend home, I slept in the guest room and my mom put a trundle bed in the den and I assume she will do the same this time.

He grumbles, but I tell him to shush, that when you are a guest in someone's home, you go by their rules.

"Well what about my mom and dad wanting us to sleep in the same room?" he asks.

"Their rules are stupid," I counter. "Besides, the more conservative rule should win. Good manners mean you make people feel comfortable."

We argue about that for a while, as is our wont. There are times when I wonder why we are married, as there is almost nothing we agree on except bacon. But we do like each other and he kisses great, so there is that.

We get to my mom's and she is already in bed, so we go downstairs.

And the trundle bed is not in the den.

The trundle bed.

Is in the guest room. Near, but not next to, the twin bed under which it usually resides. There is a chocolate on each pillow.


What's this about?

The next morning, I ask my mother what's going on.

"Well," she says. "We're going to have everyone over here for Thanksgiving and we have to have it in the den, so I didn't want to have the bed in there. You know - more work to get it moved in and out."

"Mom!" I say. "Practical issues never stopped you before."

"I know," she sighs. "But I also figured you probably weren't sleeping in separate beds when you visit each other. And I did leave a bundling nightstand*** in between the two beds, so it's OK."

* Primo does not understand why I am so obsessive about writing and being read and about having comments. Oh, the joy of comments. Manna from heaven! Validation!

** Actually, my uncle Larry and aunt Rita's big annual fish fry at the lake.

*** I had to give Primo a hard time because he had never heard of a bundling board before. And he - a descendent of Puritans!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

In which Sly and Doris get mad because I want separate rooms

October 2006 Primo is taking me to Meet the Parents. Little do I know that Sly and Doris already do not like me because I do not share their politics or religion. They know my politics and religion because they have been reading my old blog. Primo thought they might like it. Ha. We'll never make that mistake again.

I ask Primo what the sleeping arrangements will be.

"We'll share the guest room," he says.

"What?!" I squawk.

"It's a double bed."

"But sharing a room? At your mom and dad's? No. I can't do it. Don't they have another bedroom?"

"Yes, but what's wrong with sharing a room?"

"Your parents are OK with their unmarried* son sharing a bed with his girlfriend under their roof?"

"My parents pride themselves on being hip."

"I can assure you that when we visit my mom, we will not be sharing a room."

Primo asks his parents to prepare the extra bedroom. They gripe to him about what a pain in the neck*** I am being. When we arrive, they are cool and distant to me, barely making eye contact, asking not a single question about me. But that's a story for another post.

They do have the spare room prepared, but barely. Primo sleeps there one night, then complains to me about his back hurting. I relent, and he joins me in the guest room, although we go through the pretense of his sleeping in the spare room, because that is how it is supposed to be: you are at least supposed to maintain the charade of separate rooms and then one of you is supposed to tiptoe down the hallway in the middle of the night to join the other for some forbidden nookie. Honestly. "Hip" parents take the fun out of everything.

The second day, Sly offers us the shower in the master bedroom. "It fits two," he boasts. "Doris and I shower together all the time. You guys may use it if you want."

I gag as I fight back the mental image of Sly and Doris in the shower.**** "Oh, the shower in the guest bathroom is fine, thanks," I tell him.

Lord save me from hip parents.

* At this point, Primo's divorce wasn't even final.**

** Oh yes I wish I had stuck to my guns on the, "I will not sleep with you until your divorce is final" because trust me it would have saved us a lot of aggravation and money down the road if he had pushed Isabel to get it resolved sooner.

*** Not the part of the anatomy to which they really referred.

**** I am not squeamish about many things, but showering in a tub that has not been cleaned after the previous occupant has used it unless the previous occupant is my sister, my mom, my husband or one of my best friends makes my stomach turn. Showering after someone I dislike would make me betray my country.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

In which Sly tries to pit brother against brother

Summer 2009 Sly has given Primo a copy of the will. I, being the nosy nellie that I am, have read it cover to cover and back again. How on earth did an English professor at a fourth rate public college who didn't publish (he was, however, an excellent teacher, or that's what he tells us) ever amass such an estate?

Union is how. (Because academics should be unionized?) Union and a state that lacked even a scintilla of fiduciary responsibility to its taxpayers. But that's a different story.

Primo, who is supposed to execute the will*, gets nothing unless all four grandchildren die before he does.


It's their money and they can distribute it how they want. I really and truly believe that.

But I also think that for all the crap they put Primo through that he should get more of their estate. At least, if he is supposed to execute it, he should. They have told him he gets almost everything, but I had business law in college and in grad school and boy, that is not what that will says.**

Then Sly tells Primo that maybe Sly should set aside $(A lot thousands) and have Primo divide it among Primo and his two brothers as Primo sees fit.

"I don't like it. What do you think?" Primo asks me.

"Bad, bad idea," I answer. "Unless you want Ted and Jack and their families never to talk to you again. There is no way you could divide that money that would make everyone happy."

Primo agrees. Tells Sly thanks, but no thanks.

* Sly maintains that he is giving Primo a great honor by appointing him executor. After googling the responsibilities of the executor, I realize that it's a great pain in the neck, but also realize that we can hire someone to do most of the work and pay the fees out of the estate. Why Sly can't hire a lawyer to be executor I do not know.

** Sly is in the very bad habit of signing legal documents without reading them.

Monday, January 11, 2010

In which I must die by the sword

December 2009 The weekend before Christmas. We are at Sly and Doris' house. Primo promised me I would not have to go to Sly and Doris' all of 2009, but. I love my husband. He cannot get away without visiting his parents around the holidays. Well. We are working on it. I am working on it. Honestly. For the 14 - 17? whatever - years he was married to Isabel, he was not expected to visit. Then they separated and suddenly, it's a command performance.

Well. There were Other Things That Happened that I will tell you about later that make his presence more important than it was before. (That's Foreshadowing.)

Anyhow. It is boring for him to go there alone. He travels almost all the time for his job. He misses me. I miss him. I can suck it up for a long weekend. Really. I can. Even if I have a migraine* for the 12 days preceding this visit. Oh topamax. Why have you forsaken me? Are you not strong enough to overcome Dread of Outlaws?

He has just spent four hours working on his parents' computer, fixing what his father, the smartest man in the world (just ask him), has screwed up. He emerges from the office, triumphant.

I tell Doris, "I sure am lucky to be married to him."

"Yes you are!" she answers.

"He's lucky to be married to me," I say.

She pauses. "OK."

"He's damn lucky to be married to me," I tell her.

Long pause as she considers what I said. As she thinks about what she is going to say in return. "Yes," she admits finally. "Because you appreciate him."

"No, Doris," I snap, because I am anything but tactful and after only seven hours in their house, am already loaded for bear. "It's a lot more than that."

But in her extremely modest defense, in her Primo-centered world and in her words, oft repeated, Primo is her Only Joy. Life has sucker punched her so many times she still hasn't caught her breath. She has rejected traditional forms of comfort -friendship, religion - and sought solace in another - liquid, smooth, temporary, memory killing.

Still. Would it have been that hard to be just a wee bit enthusiastic?

When I recount the conversation to Primo, he points out that I put Doris on the spot.

"Oh puh-leeze," I say. "She did not have to make a list of all my many wonderful qualities. All she had to do was say, 'Yes! He is lucky to be married to you!'"

He agrees that I am correct, but then points out that if I expect to get by with just the externalities with Sly and Doris, favoring deeds over thoughts - cleaning the fridge, helping prepare meals and do dishes, sitting the appropriate length of time at supper before excusing myself with a headache - but not wanting to like them or forgive them or nursing resentment in my heart, that I cannot expect his mother to fake enthusiasm with me.


He wins the point.

* The annoying, turns me cranky kind of bitchy kind, not the throwing up, must take to bed in a completely dark room kind. Thank goodness.

In which we set a wedding date

July 2008 Primo's divorce, at long last, is final. Do I talk about that whole ordeal on this blog? Are ex-wives and their machinations covered here? Hmm. I will have to think about that. Because oh boy. The good news is that we got Chloe and Claudia, Primo's sweet, wonderful stepdaughters, out of that deal.

We have bought a house, moved in. Yes, I know we are doing things in the wrong order, but there are logistical and legal reasons for us to do it this way. Trust me. It is not how I want it. I am a nice Catholic girl, remember?

Know that I am not a homewrecker. I met Primo three years after he and his ex, whom we shall call Isabel, split. They were not divorced because she had not found a new job* and did not want to get her own health insurance.

Understandable. I was laid off from my job right before Primo and I met and rather than pay hundreds of dollars a month for cobra, I found a $5,000 deductible major med plan that cost me about $160 a month. I can see why Isabel wouldn't want to spend her money on a plan like that when she could spend Primo's money on a Cadillac plan instead. It's always easier to spend someone else's money.

We need to be married before the end of the year for tax reasons. I am nothing if not practical. Primo's income taxes will be much less as a married man.

I want to elope. Since the beginning of the year, I have sold a house, moved to another city, put my things in storage, moved into Primo's apartment, found and bought a house, moved Primo's stuff into the house and moved my things in storage into the house. Yes, Primo has been involved in more than half of these activities, but I have done most of the planning and I am plumb tired.

Oh. And dealt with a flooded basement while Primo was out of town. And dealt with rebuilding a rotten balcony. Not by myself, the rebuilding. But with a contractor. And you know what that means. While Primo was out of town. Not that I am incapable of handling these things because I am not, but the last thing I want to do is plan a wedding. I just want to be married, not organize a lollapalooza.

Primo's parents have told him several times that they do not care if they watch him get married again. They were there for his wedding to Isabel. They warned him about her, didn't they? Must they go through this again?

My mother, who has no married children, has reluctantly agreed to an elopement as long as she is present for the blessing of the marriage. We would have a civil ceremony here and then have a priest bless the marriage in my mom's presence. Doris and Sly couldn't object because they are atheists. Win/win.

We ask Sly and Doris one more time, just to be sure.

Of course they want to be at our wedding!


In retrospect, we should have just eloped. But Primo had been wanting Sly and Doris to visit him for a long time. We thought we might as well get everything over with all at once. Oh, what fools we were.

My brother and Primo's brothers are self employed. My mother and Primo's parents are retired. The only people with schedules to consider are my sister, a neo-natal nurse practitioner whose schedule is set three months in advance, Paster G and Father T. We find a date that works for those three and set it.

Primo calls Sly and Doris to announce the date. He gets off the phone, says, "They'll need to see if they can find someone to watch the cats."

I ask, "Do they understand that you were telling them the date and not asking them if it works for them?"

He answers, "I think so." He considers the question some more. "I'm not sure. They might think we're willing to change the date. We're not."

I suggest, "Maybe you should call them back and clarify that."

* It helps to look.