‘I know because I had my share of stinkers.’
I don’t want to embarrass The Child. Well, not any more than I have to. But I must say that she has excellent taste in boyfriends. So far, fingers-and-all-toes fervently crossed, she has managed to choose ‘dates’ who have not inspired The Dude or me to put on that Fake Nice-to-Meet-You Face. Or not very often, anyway.
(I put ‘dates’ in quotes because I don’t think that’s what Young People call ‘guys you go out with’. But, for my purposes today, it’ll have to do.)
Now, before I dig myself in deep here, let me say that this is not going to be a story about The Child and her ‘dates’. (I can hear her ‘whew’ all the way from Cambridge.) Nope. It’s going to be about me and mine.
See, I was about as opposite from The Child as a young dating girl could be. It seems I had a rather bad habit of picking ‘dates’ that my poor long-suffering parents most definitely found, well, ‘inappropriate’ if not downright cringe-worthy.
Part of this, I’m convinced, had to do with the fact that I was the oldest child — and a girl to boot. My mother has actually gone on record (see the comments section of ‘Double-Dating at the Drive-in with Bonnie and Clyde’ for proof) admitting I was her Test Cookie.
But, speaking of ‘testing’, if I’m honest — as honest as a Lutheranliar can be — I must admit that I was testing them a little. The more they showed their disapproval/dismay/disgust with a boyfriend, the more I liked him. I call this the Romeo and Juliet Syndrome. Because, young and naive as I was, I thought it was infinitely romantic to cling to a ‘love’ that my parents opposed.
Some of these guys I honestly couldn’t see anything wrong with. That guy in the picture at the top of this post, for example. Brad was his name. He was handsome, he was popular, he was sexy. Oops. Now I get it.
And then there were the guys who were so obviously wrong that I can’t imagine (now) why I ever gave them the time of day, much less went out with them — some of them for Very Long Periods of Time.
There was the Really Old Guy Who Wasn’t-Even-Divorced-Only-Separated Who Had Kids Closer To My Age Than He Was. But much funnier than That Old Guy (and who wouldn’t be?) was the Walloon. So here goes.
In my defense, the Walloon was the Very First Guy I Met When I Moved To New York. He was handsome. He had a big important job. He was a few — but not too many — years older than me. And he spoke French. I thought he was very sophisticated. And, to my parents’ dismay, allowed myself to be totally swept off my feet.
See, my parents could see right through that accented veneer to the creep within. In fact, their nickname for him was (and is) ‘Philippe the Creep’. Well, they had learned (by then) that to outwardly oppose any of my Bad Choices only served to bind me more closely to them, so they kept their nickname — and their dismay — a secret from me.
But just the other day I was on the phone with my Mom, praising The Child’s BF, and talking about some of my, er, lemons, when Mom said, re: the Walloon, “Yes, no one could stand him. That time you brought him to Gramma’s for Christmas? When he had you carrying the suitcases? And when he brought his own coffee and coffee maker? Marilyn (Mom’s sister) and I would have to go out and walk around the block, he made us so mad!”
It was Marilyn’s husband, my Uncle Arlyn, who coined the (kept secret from me at the time) epithet “Philippe the Creep”, and my Gramma who muttered “I thought so” when I explained that he was a Walloon. No, I’m not going to share a photo of myself with said Walloon. But I will tell you that the romance crumbled when I visited his family in Belgium and his mother served our dinner, then ate by herself in the kitchen.
Anyway. Belgian Bullet dodged. Now, back to The Child. So far, she has not exhibited any of those unfortunate Romeo-and-Juliet tendencies. And, like I mentioned, we’ve liked her boyfriends. But, even after she’s moved on, we make it a point never to say anything negative, even if prodded. Because you never know. She just might get back with Mr. Whomever, and we will have said something bad about him. Which can never ever be unsaid.
We know this for a fact because The Dude had this extremely close friend, his college roommate in fact, whom we adored. He spent weekends in Amagansett. We visited him in Arizona. He even came to Thanksgiving. (And you Faithful Readers know how I feel about Thanksgiving.)
He was dating this Woman We Could Not Stand. And they (whew) broke up. He told us all about it, sobbing, over dinner. We did our best to console him, patting him on the back and saying soothing things like “No one liked her. She was really mean to you behind your back. You deserve much better.” I think we may even have muttered something (god help us) about there being “plenty of fish in the sea.”
Well. You guessed it. They not only got back together, they got married.
And no, we did not get invited to the wedding.
New York City. October 2017