It was twenty-six years ago and my now ex-husband J and I were engaged and anticipating our wedding in half a year. J was chatting on the phone with a high school friend of his. Then that friend got a call from another high school classmate and drew her into the conversation on 3-way. J was not impressed as he remembered the girl as someone who thrived on drama and created it wherever she went. But by the end of the call he’d decided the classmate had changed and exchanged phone numbers with her. Over the course of several months they chatted back and forth and eventually we decided to get together for a visit. Her kids were living one town over from us with her parents and she and her boyfriend visited them every weekend. They could come over for lunch. Tomorrow. Which seemed fast but we didn’t have anything going on so okay.
This was back in the early 90’s when internet was dial-up and hard to find and cellphones were as big as cordless phones and equally as rare. They didn’t know where we lived and Google Maps and GPS devices wouldn’t exist for another 15 years or so. We settled on having them call us from her parents’ house to get further directions and also to give us a head’s up that they were on their way.
J rolled out of bed the following morning and immediately walked to the window, this wasn’t usual for him, we knew what it looked like outside. He let the curtain fall and announced, “They’re here”. I laughed and told him to quit joking. I mean seriously, what would the chances be of him looking out the window just as they pulled up? His expression said he wasn’t joking.
He ran to the closet and pulled on the first pair of pants he found (thankfully his) then said “I’m not kidding. They’re walking across the street right now. I’ll try to stall them so you have time to get dressed.” And off he ran, pulling on his shirt as he barrelled across the living room and down the stairs.
I jumped out of bed and looked around in a panic. I was in my pjs with messy hair and unbrushed teeth, the bed was unmade, I had nothing ready, food-wise, at all. Of course it was only 8:30am and they were supposed to be coming for lunch so my lack of preparations made sense. I pulled up the sheets and got myself presentable as quickly as possible, finishing brushing my teeth as they were walking up the stairs.
Instead of saying “hi”, J’s friend announced she was tired and needed coffee then made a beeline for the kitchen. Her little girl raced right to the bookcase where she immediately started throwing books around the living room. The little boy ran for the furniture, where he alternated between trying to poke holes in the fabric so he could rip the stuffing out and jumping off the back of a chair, narrowly missing the coffee table. The boyfriend glanced around then scoffed, “This is it? Where’s the rest of your apartment?” I felt like making a snarky comment but there wasn’t a point. I couldn’t get a word in edgewise as he detailed how much bigger and better their place was.
J’s friend wandered back into the living room. She was wearing spandex pants, a ratty t-shirt with a huge hole over the nipple, and no bra. I spent our whole conversation alternating between staring at her feet and the wall behind her. She was heartbroken she hadn’t gotten us a wedding present but was great at doing nails and had all sorts of colours and rhinestones that she could use. Wouldn’t it be so cool? We’d have matching nails. Did she think she was attending the wedding? I looked at the kids and hoped not.
Before I could answer, the little boy announced that his sister had peed on one of our cushions… that she’d placed on a stack of my books. I raced to grab the books and asked the parents to deal with their little angels. Mom immediately remembered that her coffee wasn’t finished yet and scuttled off to the kitchen. Her boyfriend informed me it was his meditation time, then proceeded to sit cross legged in the corner with his fingers beside his head while he ohm-ed loudly. Both kids were screaming by this time and jumping off any furniture they could find onto yet more of my books.
I grabbed every book and shoved them into my room then announced I was making lunch. It was 9am. I’d had some ideas for our meal but those plans had revolved around me getting up and cooking for a few hours before our guests arrived. And, by this time, I didn’t want them in our house any longer than necessary. I pulled two big cans of soup out of the cupboard and chucked them in a pot then tossed together a salad. It didn’t seem like much of a meal so I pulled out one of those microwavable powdered sauce and cake mixes. Then I called the boyfriend and kids into the kitchen to eat.
While I was childless at the time, I wasn’t an idiot, and I’d placed the kids half full bowls of soup in the freezer to cool. The boyfriend walked in and immediately started complaining. He never bought canned foods, he made everything from scratch. He had at least twice as many spices as us and couldn’t imagine cooking with that few. And our lack of storage space blew his mind. He had no idea how we could function with so little space.
As I placed the bowls on the table, the boyfriend started telling us about how he’d been badly abused as a child and this had left him totally impervious to pain. Just then I put the girl’s tepid bowl of soup in front of him, he knocked it onto his lap and immediately started screaming about the pain and how badly it was burning him. Thankfully he shut up when I told him the bowl had been in the freezer for the past five minutes and the soup was almost cold. J was obviously trying to stifle laughter by this point.
The soup was finished fairly quickly and I started making dessert. Once again the boyfriend complained. His desserts were all (of course) from scratch and he hated packaged desserts. He hated it so much he inhaled his helping then took seconds before J and I had a chance to get our first serving, finishing the bowl.
Thankfully J came up with a reason for them to leave. He hated to be rude but we’d been invited to a (nonspecific) family function and we needed to leave now. It was great seeing them and, oops, don’t forget your purse or your son. We’d finished lunch and had them out the door before 10am.
That was the last time we ever spoke to them. My wedding nails ended up being a plain peach with nary a rhinestone in life. Somehow we muddled through.