• Wed, Aug 11 2010

The Heart Monitor: Meeting the (Grand)parents

My parents met my boyfriend. It was difficult.

They were equal parts awkward and standoffish with him. My mother was shy; my boyfriend was quiet. Left alone, they would have blinked at each other in silence, waiting indefinitely for a sudden commonality that might aid in conversation. They’d have had more luck with Godot. My father, on the other hand, loved talking to my boyfriend. He used his most uncomfortable you-can’t-tell-if-I’m-fucking-with-you tone and we all began to lose track of whether he was, in fact, fucking with anyone.

Look, they get along.  My boyfriend likes my parents. He thinks he’ll grow on them, and often suggests a weekend trip to visit or to spend quality time on the holidays. He’s a good boyfriend, the type who appreciates people who haven’t quite appreciated him yet.

But I realized, too late, that I never should have introduced him to my parents first.

I should have introduced him to my grandparents.

Of course! Adorable relics of Jewish New York, my Grandma and Papa are favorites among my friends. They love afternoon cocktails, gossip, and their grandchildren. They gamble with loose change in weekly canasta games. They sit by the pool with their senior friends who skipped Florida this summer. And, like most grandparents, they adore bragging about their family to anyone who will listen.
And they adore my non-Jewish, non-lawyer-or-doctor, non-rich boyfriend.

First of all, my grandparents have much lower expectations for me than my Mom and Dad. At 26, I’m the youngest grandchild and the only single girl in the family. Hell, my grandmother was married at 18, the second my Papa got home from the war. They didn’t have the chance to blow through hundreds of thousands of my parents’ dollars on a liberal arts degree. They went to work and tried to set up a life for themselves so they could enjoy being in love and having a family. To them, 26 is old enough to settle down and have their grandkids already. With that guy? Good enough! Just as long as he’s nice, virile, and wants a family.

Yes, they drive with a foot on each pedal, but that doesn’t mean they’re a menace on the road. No, the problem with their driving has less to do with their two-foot approach than the fact that they’re losing their eyesight. I’m lucky enough to be dating a handsome fellow, but what if he wasn’t? Pockmarks, acne and a constant five o’clock shadow? They wouldn’t see it. Braces at 30? Barely noticed! Their eyesight is bad enough to cast a lovely rose-colored glow over any potential husband. Plus, when you spend your time surrounded by other 80-somethings, anyone too young to join AARP looks fantastic.

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