Friday, February 26, 2010

In which we get married and Sly and Doris get drunk

September 2008 and yes, it is 2008, not 2007, as I had been posting. We got married in 2008. 2008. I am not a details person. I know that. That's why when I was working, I always made sure to put a details person on my team. I hate the small stuff. Let someone else deal with it.

Primo was incredulous yesterday when I called upstairs* to ask him what year we had married. How could I not know? But my brain is full of more important things, like why the concept of limited government is important, why we need to keep the electoral college instead of going to a popular vote and what's the frozen custard flavor today at Kopp's. Besides, I don't need to remember the little things. I am married to him. The Rememberer.

OK. I'll tell you a quick story. Then we'll get back to our wedding and I promise today will be a happy post because yesterday's was a bit of a downer. A few years ago when Alberto Gonzales was being questioned about things that had happened six months prior, I commented that who could remember what had happened that long ago?

Primo said, "I know what I was doing six months ago."

I said, "OK. What were you doing on November 21?"

Primo said, "I was in Cedar Rapids with a customer. Rockwell Collins. It was a Thursday."

I said, "You're making that up."

So he pulled up the calendar on his computer and darned if he wasn't right.

Still, I think that's a waste of brainpower. Does he know what shoes** I was wearing when we met? Ha. Now that's an important thing to remember.

Back to our wedding. It's Thursday. My sister is the first one to arrive. I pick her up at the airport and we goof off all morning. Freedom! She has not been to our city as an adult. We drive along the waterfront, stop at a coffeeshop. I tell her about the miscarriage because I HAVE TO TELL SOMEBODY. Plus, she's a nurse practitioner and just in case I pass out or start to hemorrhage, it would be a good idea for someone else to know what's going on.

I realize that the "Don't tell anyone you're pregnant before 12 weeks" rule is just stupid. Anyone who's reading this who is pregnant and hasn't told, TELL. Or at least tell your mom and your sister and your best friend. Because if you have a miscarriage, you are going to tell them about it and then all you get is the crummy part about telling about the miscarriage but you miss the fun part about telling about the pregnancy. The rule is STUPID. Yeah, don't tell the whole world. But tell your close friends so at least you get the joy to balance what might be the crap.

Then she takes me to get a manicure. After that, we have to go back to the house. Ick. But at least I have company. I have not told her about Sly and Doris' shenanigans, not because I want them to be protected but because I know my sister would scratch their eyes out and I don't need life complicated that way.

We have more buffers. Primo picks up my brother and his brother Ted, who is a good distraction for Sly and Doris. I like Ted. Again, proof that genetics are not destiny. How Sly managed to produce decent children I do not know. Sly and Doris would have you believe that Ted is a pompous bag of wind (pot, kettle), but I like him. I also like the fact that although Ted has a retarded son who will never live on his own, you don't hear him complain or whine about how unfair life is to him. Ted has always been cheerful and positive when I've been around him.

My mother and Dr J arrive. They have driven from Dr J's home in the northern part of the state.

With all these people around as protection against Sly, Doris is happy. She likes people. Sly bullies her and keeps her isolated. I don't know why she lets him get away with it. It's not as if she doesn't have anything he wants. As in - and you might want to avert your eyes here - Sly bragged to Primo about his cialis prescription. Why Sly thought that Primo would want to know that information about his father I do not know. Why Sly thought that was appropriate information to share with his child, albeit an adult child, I do not know. Why Sly has apparently never heard of the word "boundary" I do not know. He was an English professor. Surely that word has crossed his vocabulary.

But Doris is smiling. She is laughing. Wow. I have never seen her like this before. It's amazing what she can be like without someone bullying her. Amazing.

So. We are having fun. We are ignoring Sly's pontifications and pronouncements and arrogance and he is bewildered that We Don't Care about his Obvious Superiority, although Dr J is so gracious and sweet that he will listen to Sly without complaint. Sly is comforted that At Last, here is someone who is his Intellectual Equal.***

Claudia and Chloe, Primo's stepdaughters from his marriage to Isabel, arrive Friday morning.

We get married Friday afternoon in a quick Lutheran ceremony with Father T, a Catholic priest, in attendance to give it the imprimatur of the Catholic Church. He and Pastor G share the service. When Father T says something about "unit," Primo and I look at each other and think, "He said 'unit!'" Then we have to look away from each other so we don't burst out laughing.

After the service, my mom talks with Pastor G about Norwegian immigrant life on the prairie and family history research and Lutherans, of which my mom's father was one. Ted talks to Father T. Everyone has fun.

Ted takes Sly and Doris back to the house so they can drink. The rest of us go to the lake so we can take more photos, photos that do not contain Sly and Doris and that they subsequently whine about not containing them. Whatever, Sly and Doris.

We meet at the restaurant for our wedding supper. Primo and I get there first. I wonder where everyone will sit. I do not want to sit by Sly and Doris. I don't want to. Why should I have to? I have had to eat with them five nights already. It is my wedding supper. I have not been a demanding bride. I have not asked for much for my wedding. But dammit, I do not want to have to eat with Sly and Doris for my wedding supper. Is that too much to ask? Is that too mean? Is that too selfish?

So as soon as Chloe and Claudia walk in, I grab them. "Sit here," I say. "We've hardly had a chance to see you!" I do the same with my brother and sister. There. Now I am surrounded by people I like. I feel bad for throwing my mom and Dr J to the wolves, but they are taking one for the team. It is their wedding present to me.

There is a lot of drinking going on at that end. Not my mom. Not Dr J. Not Pastor G. Not Ted. But Sly and Doris. After Sly's toast in which he does not mention my name once, I walk over to make an obligatory hostess pass. Not that it's so horrible because I like Pastor G and my mom and Dr J and Ted. But when Doris pats the seat next to her and indicates she wants me to sit, I roll my eyes. Oh good grief. Now what?

I sit. She is weepy.

Why? Why is she sad? This is a wedding. Be happy, dammit.

How can she be this far in her cups? We allowed one cocktail before supper and brought a limited amount of wine. We did not want this supper to turn into a drunkfest. We were very careful about how much liquor was served.

Ah. But the pre-supper drinking at the house.

She is weeping and telling me how Primo is her Only Joy. How his toddler years were the Happiest Time of Her Life. I have heard this line before. Yeah. Whatever. I pretend to be nice. Smile. Pat her hand. Think, Lady, this is MY WEDDING. MINE. Could you please just let THIS be about ME for ONE SECOND? PLEASE?

I put on a convincing act but I am a little ticked off. We couldn't go one night without Drama? It's not like I haven't sucked it up for Doris and Sly all week: given them our bedroom, gotten them a newspaper every morning, bought them Lactaid because they are lactose intolerant except for our expensive Carr Valley cheese that they eat instead of lunch, set up a stereo in the living room, made a full supper every night, etc, etc.

Can't she suck it up for three hours? Would it kill her? It's NOT ABOUT YOU, DORIS. IT'S NOT.

But it is. It's always about her. Even the onion rings I didn't eat are about her.


I say something nice, extricate myself and see to my other guests. Who, except for Sly, are all happy. Having fun. Real fun, not drunk fun.

That night is when Primo promises me that Sly and Doris will never live with us. I love Primo. And he lives in the same house as I do and Sly and Doris live 1,000 miles away, so I guess it's OK.

* Oh like you don't call rather than walk up a flight of stairs. Please.

** My gorgeous red snakeskin high heels.

*** I would say that a cardiologist outranks an English professor. Indeed, Sly is probably hoist on his own petard here, for just last Christmas, Sly was complaining about his former colleague who had an EdD but insisted on being called "Doctor." When I asked what an "e d d" was, Sly told me it was a doctorate in education. "So he was a doctor," I said. "Yes," Sly sniffed, "but it's a lesser degree."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

In which our wedding week turns into a medical drama and a test of my acting ability

September 2008 Thursday night before the Saturday when Sly and Doris arrive. I am still pregnant. But. I notice some bleeding. Which is not a good thing when you are pregnant, regardless of what the internet tells you.

I call my doctor's office Friday morning and they tell me come in. I come. They take my blood. Listen for a heartbeat, which should be audible. None. Doc tells me to come back on Monday for more blood tests. He calls me Saturday to give me the results of Friday's blood test: not good.

Sly and Doris arrive Saturday night. They are whiney. So what else is new? They say nothing about the pregnancy because they are not supposed to know because I am not supposed to know that they told Primo they were not coming to the wedding. Do you need a scorecard yet?

I go back to my doctor on Monday. I do not tell Sly and Doris where I am going. I just tell them I am going to the gym, which is true, and that I have a few quick errands to run after class. Primo is taking the day off anyhow, so he can entertain them, as they are completely incapable of entertaining themselves if they are out of their environment.

The doc takes more blood. I wait for the results. Oh they are worse. Dr B, who is the sweetest, nicest man in the world, is so sad. He tells me to keep the ultrasound appointment I had already scheduled for the next day. It was going to be our first look at the baby ultrasound, but now it's going to be the make sure the baby is dead before we do a D&C ultrasound.

After I pick up a newspaper for Sly and Doris, I go home and roast a chicken for supper while Sly, apparently, nurses a grudge that I did not offer him oatmeal to go with his Cheerios that morning. After Primo and I sit through an interminable supper and clean the kitchen, I excuse myself to go to bed.

Sly and Doris complain that I do not socialize with them.

On Tuesday, I go to the gym in the morning. As I sit on the bench waiting for class to start, another woman in class comes over to me. "Are you OK?" she asks. "You look so sad. Is something wrong?"

I can barely answer her. "I can't talk about it," I say. "I'm sorry."

"OK," she answers. "It's just that you're usually so happy and smiling."

I return home with a newspaper for Sly and Doris, who ask Primo to move the stereo into the living room. I tell them I have a doctor's appointment that afternoon that I had scheduled months ago and that I had been unable to reschedule. I give them my apologies and leave.

The ultrasound confirms that the baby is dead. I explain the situation to the ultrasound doc: what drugs can he give me to deal with Sly and Doris?

He thinks for a while, then answers. "Vodka," he says. "I recommend vodka. Lots of vodka."

We schedule the D&C for Wednesday morning. I dress as if I am going to the gym, but go to the hospital instead. I want Primo with me, but we do not want to tell Sly and Doris. I will be damned if they are going to know about this. It is not theirs. I will not allow them to share our grief. IT IS NOT THEIRS. They do not get to have this. I will not let them be part of this private mourning.

I go alone. When I return, I go into Primo's office, close the door and we cry together.

That night, Sly and Doris take us out to eat. I am drugged. Numb. Lots of vicodin. I yell at Sly. Not as much as I want to. I want to slap his hand when he grabs a piece of bread from the basket on our table, drops it, and takes another instead.

"Were you raised in a barn?" I want to ask. Instead, I just make sure not to take that piece. But I do yell at him when he refuses to listen to Primo sing when we take them to karaoke after. Jerkjerkjerkjerk. He just can't stand not to be the center of attention. And the idea that somebody else might be as good as or better than him? Oh he can't bear it.

Primo waits until he is driving them to the airport on Sunday to tell them about the miscarriage.

They have never said a word about it to me. Never.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In which Sly and Doris almost don't leave after the wedding

September 2008 Our wedding week. So yeah, they come. And some crummy stuff happens and I'll tell you about it but I suck it up and take lots of drugs and try to ignore Sly and Doris because I'm marrying Primo and he's wonderful and incredible and no matter how awful Sly and Doris are, they did do one thing right in their life and that was make Primo, so I have to thank them for that.

It's Sunday morning after the wedding. Primo is getting ready to drive Sly and Doris the 90 miles to the airport. Why yes of course there is an airport in our city! But if Sly and Doris flew out of our city, then they would have to change planes on their way home and that would be difficult for them. They do have many physical problems. So Primo is going way out of his way to make his parents comfortable and take them to a larger city and a direct flight. I don't think they appreciate the sacrifices he makes on their behalf.

I consult my project plan. Sly and Doris out of the house, Dr J (my mother's gentleman caller), my brother and sister into the house (from the hotel). Ted left last night. Claudia and Chloe are leaving today as well. Primo will drop them off at our airport this morning as he takes his parents out of town.

As soon as he pulls out of the driveway, I need to strip Sly and Doris' bed (aka Primo and my bed), put on clean sheets for my mother and Dr J,* change the guest room bed so Primo and I can move upstairs from the basement, change the basement bed for my brother, set up the inflatable for my sister. Wash sheets, clean the bathroom that Sly and Doris have been using for NINEDAYS because if you want to make me betray my country, put me in a shower that someone I don't like has been using. Start preparing the 12-person supper we are having tonight for my family and my dad's aunt and uncle and two cousins.

Fortunately, I can put my family to work, but still.

It is not until they get into the car that Doris realizes she has lost her wallet.

Which, of course, includes her ID.

Lord have mercy I do not need this now.

There is a mad scramble back into the house to look for it.


With Primo's family, panic is the new normal.

I can't stand it.

I am getting scared that they won't leave. They are saying things like, "We can't leave! We can't go through security! They won't let us through! We'll just have to reschedule our flight!"

That is not an option. They are not staying a second longer. I have put up with them long enough. Ya basta. Begone! It is time for the nightmare to be over.

I almost shove them into the car.

"Go!" I say. "You just have to go through extra screening. This happened with a friend of mine last month. But you'll need extra time. Go!"

As they leave, Doris is still rifling through her purse.

Four days later, after my mother, brother and sister have left and I have regained my sanity, I call every place we went on their visit and ask if they have her wallet. The place that does have it (where they took us out to supper and yes, alcohol was involved in losing it) is the place that is, of course, the furthest from our house. It takes me an hour to get it and then Primo sends it to her FedEx.

They don't bother to reimburse us.

Dr J forgets some pants and a sweater. I mail them to him by the US mail. My mother sends us a check for the postage.

* Oh yeah that was awkward. My mom was in the guest room and Dr J was in a hotel. She asked if he could move into the house, which was fine, but logistics demanded that they share a room, even though they are not married. And good Catholics. She hesitated. I told her if she and Dr J really wanted separate rooms, that was fine, I would arrange it, but it would make my life a gajillion times easier if they would share.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

In which Sly and Doris threaten to boycott the wedding

I tell Primo I am writing about the Wedding Boycott and he says that his parents never really meant it and that maybe he shouldn't have told me about it.

"What do you mean, they didn't mean it?"

"They were just blowing off steam," he answers.

"That's crap," I argue. "It took you over a week to convince them to come. I wish you'd called their bluff and said, 'I'm sorry you feel that way. I'll miss having you. Have a nice life.'"

"No, it's my job to fix everything in my family," he says. "I'm the one who has to cajole and convince and make everything better."

We argue about this for a while. He maintains that his parents never meant that they weren't coming. I say that makes it even worse: what kind of parents make the empty threat that they are not coming to a child's wedding?

Primo says that his parents say things like that all the time. It's just their way, he explains. It's because of how exhausted they are from Nancy, his mentally ill heroin addict sister, who had borderline personality disorder, and who was horribly abusive to Sly and Doris.

"That may be the case," I admit, "but that does not give them an excuse to treat you badly. What have you ever done to them?"

"They have been good parents to me," he says firmly. "They do love me."

I fall silent, but I still think it is a crappy, horrible, mean, manipulative thing for a parent to tell a child that he is not coming to the child's wedding, even if he doesn't mean it.

Especially if he doesn't mean it and if it's all part of a game where the child is then supposed to coax the parent out of the parent's hurt feelings. Give me a break. I was in your standard what am I doing wrong in my relationships here's a spreadsheet of all my boyfriends fix me in two sessions because I don't have money and time to waste please therapy. The mother and father are supposed to parent the child, not the other way around. Boundaries, Sly and Doris. Boundaries.

So what is this horrible thing I did to warrant a wedding boycott and the admonishment that Primo not marry me?

A few weeks before our wedding, I wrote something in my old blog - the one Sly and Doris read, alas - about how I was getting a bit stressed planning our wedding event. We were going to have houseguests for 14 days and I had written a four-page project plan detailing meals, airport pickups, hotels, guest room linen changes, and transportation plans. We had two 12-person sit-down meals at our house. A wedding supper at a restaurant. All meals with two truly lactose-intolerant eaters plus two fakers, one person with hemochromatosis and hence no red meat, etc, etc.

I wrote about this in a blog post.

I wrote about worrying about getting it all right and keeping my guests comfortable.

I also wrote about our wedding supper at the restaurant and how to seat the pastor, the priest and three vocal atheists, one of those atheists being Sly, who is not shy about his opinion about how stupid believers are, another being Ted and another being my brother, who has almost made my mother cry in some of his atheist arguments.

I was pretty sure that the pastor and the priest could hold their own against the atheists, but I did not want them to be in that position. I wanted our evening to be pleasant and free from tension. I was pretty sure my brother would behave, but I had never seen Sly in a public setting and I also knew he would be well lubricated, if you know what I mean.

So yes. I was worried.

But my exact line is just about how to seat three vocal atheists and the pastor and the priest. Nothing else. I do not write anything else in my old blog.

Sly and Doris take great offense. They assume I am talking about them and Ted. They assume that I am worried about their offending the pastors and not about the pastors offending them. Of course, they are correct, but there is another way to interpret it. Their first thought is always to assume they are the injured party. Always.

They take enough offense that they call Primo and tell him they aren't coming to the wedding and that he shouldn't marry me.

After making sure that I am not around, of course, and that they are speaking to him privately.

Because this is a secret he'll be able to keep from me. I sure won't notice if they don't show up.

Primo is crushed. Who wouldn't be? His own parents, telling him they won't be coming to his wedding? He tries to explain I was also including my brother and Ted. He tells them they are over-reacting.

They are unswayed. They call him repeatedly, including at work, while he is with a customer. They are still furious. He tries to calm them.

I tell him to tell them not to let the door hit them where the good Lord split them. Honestly. How much nicer will it be if they aren't there? I know my wedding day and wedding week will be easier without them. I also know Primo will be unhappy at his parents' betrayal.

But Primo is truly distressed. Truly. I do not buy his argument that they never meant it. Because he spends a week trying to convince them to come.

He tries everything. Everything.

They are unmoved.

He finally uses his last weapon.

He tells them that I am pregnant.

And if they ever want to be allowed to see their grandchild, they will come to his wedding.