I wrote this on my phone. I apologize for errors or crazy formatting.
As you all know, my in-laws are in town for three weeks. It’s been interesting. If you haven’t had a chance to catch up you can see the two previous blog posts here:
5 Hours To Go
I’ll Be Sainted, Right?
The thing with my in-laws is that they’re not necessarily evil it’s just that they’re products of their environment, and their environment is that of tradition, ethnocentrism, tough childhoods, and perpetual nervousness. Their closed surroundings have produced bubble people who have been raised on their own planet: Cassino.
Pretty much all of their insanity stems from the fact that they honestly don’t know any better.
“People shouldn’t treat their dogs so well, dogs should be left outside to fend for themselves.”
“If one doesn’t buy an apartment before marriage, their children will be homeless and die.”
“Pizza and pasta are healthy.”
“Men are the boss of women.”
These are only a few “factual,” statements that I struggle with, given that they are total bullshit. But it gives you an idea of what we are dealing with here. It’s their way or the highway, everything they think is right, so the opposite is decidedly wrong. This has always been our struggle. They cannot understand diversity. It’s either scary and they’re pretty sure it’s life threatening or it’s fascinating, like they are observing creatures in a zoo.
Which brings us to the most embarrassing five minutes of my life. Yesterday Francesco had a work party at his boss’ house. Preparing for the party was bad enough. I had to take them to 3,000 stores to find the perfect bottle to hold Grappa, a gift for my husband’s boss. I had to take my MiL to get her hair done, and I had to buy Pannetone from Trader Joes. Every purchase, as usual, has been an argument along with three subsequent hours of bitching. So, I’ve just decided to pay for everything and hide the receipts (they ask for them and search for them for hours). I’m not rich, by any means, but I hate talking about money, especially for ten min in front of a confused cashier. Its so tacky.
I drove my in-laws the 1 hour drive to Francesco’s bosses home, located in the middle of the dessert, in coyote country (most of you know that we are temporarily in the US while I finish my books). The drive was scenic, accompanied by a cacophony of, “oh God! Watch out! Slow down! Mother Mary! Ew, I don’t like the way this looks. I prefer the sea. This is dry. Oh God! Watch out!” From my MIL and, “stop talking woman! Shut up!” From my FIL.
We met my husband at their home.
I was hellbent on getting wasted so I was off in the corner chugging Layer Cake with some of my husband’s younger colleagues. Yes, I’m the immature thirty-year-old that’s sitting with all the 22 year olds having the best time ever. We were right in the middle of a conversation about how Italy is amazing and irritating. My example, ironically, was that it lacked diversity. Almost as if on cue, my MIL walks over to pet the young girl who is directly across from me.
“You’re pretty,” she says in Italian, “misty, translate for me.”
Then she faces the girl, bends down, pulls her eyes taught, and says, “where are you from?!” To Francesco’s colleague who is Korean-American.
I coughed. Then stared at the table.
The girl smiled, “uhm, I’m American?” She took a long pull from her glass of beer.
“But how are you American,” my MIL pressed. She pulled her eyes taught again, “if your eyes are like this?”
The girl looked at me, since I was doing the translating “I was born in Korea but raised in the US.”
My MIL patted the girl’s head, “My niece has eyes kind of like yours,” she pulled her eyes back again.
“As I was saying, there is no diversity…” I surveyed the table of shell-shocked faces. I finished my entire glass of wine in one acidic gulp.
My FIL took photos of cactuses. My husband was in another room messing with the 80k amp he’d just designed.
My MIL sashayed through the kitchen where F’s boss rolled out pizza dough to cook in his industrial oven.
“In my opinion, the world adores pizza,” she said with her head held high, happy to bestow her gift of cuisine, as if she had personally brought flat dough to the United States.