I was meeting my girlfriend’s parents for the first time. It was a big moment and she had made it clear that her family was very particular and things had to go just right.
She had instructed me on what to say and what not to say. She had even picked out my outfit.
I showed up at the restaurant 5 minutes early, confident that everything would be fine.
She was waiting with them in the lobby when I got there. She smiled when she saw me coming, but then her face fell.
She ran up to me and grabbed my arm.
“What the hell is that?” she hissed through her teeth.
“What the hell is what,” I asked, totally confused.
“What you’re wearing!”
“I’m wearing exactly what you told me to wear!” I protested.
“I never told you to wear this!” she said, as she grasped the fabric of my favorite Magellan’s 8 pocket ultralight travel vest that I had ordered from SkyMall.
“I always wear my vest. It’s a special occasion, I wanted to look nice,” I told her.
“I thought I threw that out!” She looked over her shoulder, her parents were approaching, a growing look of concern on their faces.
“I bought like 50 of them, just in case they ran out,” I told her, now regretting that I hadn’t bought a hundred, like I had originally planned to do.
“Honey, is everything alright?” Her mother asked.
“Everything’s fine,” big pause, “Mom, Dad, this is Eric,” she said, not looking at anybody in particular.
We shook hands and exchanged pleasantries.
“Say, that’s a sharp vest you’re wearing,” her father told me.
“Daddy!” this did not please her.
“Lindsay’s father has one just like that,” her mother told me, “though, I think he usually wears it when he goes fishing.”
“Yes, mother, that is my point. Eric insists on wearing this stupid vest everywhere. He looks ridiculous,” said my girlfriend as my ears grew red and my temper rose.
“Well, Lindsay, I’d appreciate it if you spent a little less time belittling me and my vest. Your father doesn’t think it looks ridiculous, do you, sir?”
Lindsay’s father looked to his wife for some guidance as his only daughter glared at him, “Well, I mean… I’m no fashion expert… Should we get our table or have some drinks first?”
“This is a nice restaurant, you’re wearing a suit. You can’t wear a vest over a suit!” Said his daughter, ignoring his attempt to change the subject.
She had raised her voice to the point where the people dining had started to notice. I saw the hostess shoot a furtive glance towards her manager.
“Says who?” I asked her, hoping she would take the bait.
“Says anybody with a fucking brain, you idiot!”
Bingo! She had fallen right into my trap.
“Well, Lindsay, not everybody,” I made a big show of putting my hand into one of the 3 internal, zippered pockets of my Magellan’s 8 pocket ultralight travel vest. As I pulled out my SkyMall catalog that I had brought along, I saw my girlfriend roll her eyes and her parents become even more confused and embarrassed.
But I didn’t care.
Insult my Polish ancestors. Call my mother a whore. Punch me in the balls and laugh at me when it doesn’t hurt because I was born without functioning genitals.
But do not insult my Magellan’s 8 pocket ultralight travel vest.
As I turned to page 28, I over-enunciated every word that dripped from my tongue, “You know who does think I can wear my vest over a suit, Lindsay darling? The good people at a little mail-order catalog called SkyMall. Yeah, that’s right,” I paused and let it sink in to her parents and anyone within earshot what a big dope Lindsay’s parent’s daughter was.
I cleared my throat and took out my reading glasses from the outside pocket just below the dedicated cell phone pocket of my Magellan’s 8 pocket ultralight travel vest.
“Ahem. And I quote:
The simple V-neck style looks great over anything; two-way zipper and snap tab offer multiple closure options. The soft, laundered Supplex nylon fabric by DuPont is windproof, fast-drying and stain-resistant, and a full mesh lining wicks away moisture to keep you cool and comfortable. Machine washable. Imported.”
My soon-to-be ex-girlfriend stood there, looking unimpressed. She stared me down for a few seconds before speaking.
“Mother, father, I am truly sorry to waste your time. I cannot express to you how greatly I regret introducing you to this moron. Eric, I want your stuff out of my apartment by tomorrow. Don’t ever speak to me again.”
She strode out of the lobby as only a woman scorned can do. Her mother stopped her at the door, grasping her daughter by the arm.
Roughly, she turned her around and proceeded to barrage her with vicious slaps to the face. Lindsay’s father and I ran over to stop her. It was not easy, as her anger at her daughter’s offensive behavior seemed to have given her the strength of ten apes!
“I have no daughter! I have no daughter!” she screamed as she slapped her daughter over and over.
All Lindsay could do was put up her hands in a failed attempt to protect herself. By the time we separated them, she was bleeding and covered in red marks.
“Mom! What the fuck!” she managed to say as we pulled her mother off of her. “Somebody get the police!”
She found little sympathy.
The manager had come over to our group. “What seems to be the problem here?” he asked us.
“The problem is, my bitch mom is fucking crazy!” spat Lindsay.
“Actually, madam, I believe the problem is you. Please leave.” said the manager in his snooty, vaguely French-sounding accent.
“What? Has the whole world lost its mind?!” Lindsay was losing it. She tried to be heard over the roar of the assembled patrons’ applause as the manager threw her out onto the sidewalk, but it was all in vain.
I felt a twinge of remorse but it was soon replaced by the vibration of my cell phone in the dedicated cell phone pocket of my Magellan’s 8 pocket ultralight travel vest and I quickly remembered that I had done the right thing.
“Well, shall we have some dinner, Son?” asked Lindsay’s mother, as she took my arm.
“That would be delightful!” I responded.
We walked to our table and I knew in that moment that family wasn’t something you were born into, it was something that came about through love and shared interests and vests and things like that. Important things.
“So, you said you got that at SkyMall, eh?” asked my new daddy as we sat down to a delicious meal.