HIGH SCHOOL NORMALITY contains strong language and some themes not suitable for audiences under 17. Viewer discretion is advised.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Family Affair


"Well, my family's not exactly what I would call the Brady Bunch. My parents are no exception."
"Well who's folks aren't?"



"If we're going to be in a relationship than we have to be able to talk about these things."

"My mom's a receptionist and my dad lost his job because of the recession. My parents fight all the time, so I tend to keep myself away."


"You met her parents already?"

I was telling Aaron Stanwick about my date with Joy. We had only been dating for a few weeks, but her parents decided that they really wanted to meet me. Being that I had never been in a relationship before, I wasn't sure what it would be like meeting a girlfriend's parents. It was surprisingly easy.

"By the end of the night, I was calling them 'mom' and 'dad'!"
"Yeah. Her mom was really great. Just like the moms you see on TV from the '50s. And her dad was--well he was kind of cold at first, but he was great too once we got to talking."
"So basically you had dinner with the Cleavers?"
"Well, I don't think her mom was vacuuming in pearls."

Aaron and I had this weird sense of humor. We talked about really random things and tried to relate them to our lives.

"So when is she meeting your folks?"
"Ha ha."
"Well you've met her folks. Isn't it kind of normal for her to meet yours?"

I guess on some level Aaron had a point. I mean, it was the natural order, but my family wasn't exactly natural.
My name is David, and I'm a normal high school student.
But my family is anything but normal.

For one thing, my dad, Calvin, is sort of, well, moody. He acts really happy around other people, but when he gets home, he's really upset about life. It's as if he waits until he gets home so he doesn't ruin his image. Then there's my mom, Linda. She is resentful to my dad because he is unemployed and she's working as a receptionist. My sister, Libby, is 29 and still lives with us. I'm probably closer with her than I am with anyone else in my family, but she still has her issues. And of course, there's Jake, my 14 year-old brother who thinks that the world is crashing down on him every two seconds.

I really don't have much to do with them because I have removed myself from the drama. I need a normal high school experience, and I can't have that clouded with the stupidity of my family.

The next night, I picked up Joy and we went to go see a chick flick.

"You actually want to see it? I've had to drag my previous boyfriends to these movies."
"Well, that's the difference. You see, those are your previous boyfriends, and I'm your current one. Otherwise, I couldn't do this..."

We made out for a few minutes (just in case you didn't infer from my smoothness).

"So, what did you think of my parents?"
"They were great. I really liked them."
"They really liked you, too."
"Oh yeah?"
"Yeah. So, um, when am I going to meet yours?"
"I want to meet your parents."

Well that was an unexpected turn of events. I guess Aaron was right. She had to meet them sometime. Not wanting a repeat of the last time my family came up in conversation, I decided to take the high road.

"Why don't I ask my folks and maybe have you over on Friday night?"
"That sounds great!"
The movie was pretty good. Not that we were really watching it, but the actors seemed to know what they were doing and from what I noticed there were no major editing flaws.

After the movie, I dropped her off at her house and I walked her to the door.

"Don't forget to ask them."
"I won't forget." No matter how much I wanted to, I wouldn't forget to ask them. With a kiss, we said goodnight, and I went home.

The next day was Saturday, so I met Aaron, along with Mark Adams and Michael Florence at the Coffee Plantation. Joy was not working that day, so I could vent openly (hopefully Joy's coworkers weren't nosy).

"We haven't even spent long periods of time with them!"
"You're seriously going to expose your girlfriend to the people you refer to as 'The Munsters' in casual conversation?"
"I knew that this day would come. I told you that the minute you met her parents she would want to meet yours!"
"You met her parents?"
"I've never met a girlfriend's parents. I feel like it would be awkward eating with parents whose child I ate out."
"Thank you for that lovely picture."
"Guys, I'm just as freaked out about this as you are. Although I can't imagine why you're all so freaked out. It's not like they're YOUR parents."
"But we know about how you feel about them. Are you sure you want to do this?"
I thought about it for a second. I mean, I didn't want to do it, but...

"It's something that she wants. And in a relationship, you often have to put your own feelings aside in order to make the other person happy."
"Who are you? Carrie Bradshaw?"
"Is that really how you admitted that you watch Sex and the City?"
"Fuck you."

I asked my parents about dinner, and they actually said yes.

"We would love to meet the girl that's stolen you from this family."

Ok, it wasn't the most ideal way to say yes, but Joy would be happy.

Joy's parents dropped her off at my house around 6:30. Once the doorbell rang, I knew that chaos was ready to ensue.
"I brought a pound cake. Am I overdressed?"

She wore a white long-sleeved shirt and a summery-type skirt. I was wearing a white and blue striped dress shirt untucked with a pair of jeans.

"You look beautiful." I kissed her.
"EWWW!" Jake was by the door. He was a typical 14 year-old. Stupid and immature.
"Jake, this is Joy. Joy, this is Jake."
"Hi." He shook her hand and then went upstairs to watch some TV.
"David, you need to--oh, hi."
"Libby, Joy, Joy, Libby."
"Oh, it's so nice to finally meet you! David, can I talk to you in the kitchen for a second?"

With a request like that, how could I say no? I turned to Joy. "I'll be back in two seconds. Make yourself comfortable."
"I'll miss you."
"I'll miss you too."
Libby and I walked to the kitchen. "What's up?"
"Are you sleeping with her?"
Um, ok.

"What the hell kind of question is that?"
"I just want to make sure you're being careful."
"I have only been dating her for about a month! Do you really think I'd be that stupid?"
"No, I'm just making sure."
"Making sure of what?"

My mom had been too busy making the chicken to pay attention to our conversation. "Nothing mom. Don't worry about it."
"Is the little woman here yet?"
"Oh, yeah. I'll go get her."

Joy was standing in the same spot that she was when I had left. "Ready to meet my mom?"

We walked into the kitchen and my mom took a good look at her.

"Joy, this is my mother, Linda Adler. Mom, this is my girlfriend, Joy."
"I've heard so much about you, Mrs. Adler. You are so much prettier than David described you."

I actually never described my mother to Joy. She was a little heavy-set, but actually was a very beautiful woman despite her weight.

Next came my dear old dad.

"Linda, what's for dinner?"
"Chicken. And we have a guest."
He took a good look at Joy. "So you're the little lady who has made David so happy lately?"
"Unless there's another woman that David's not telling us about."
"No, dear, David's father is the one with the other women."
"Linda, please don't start tonight."
"Ok, why don't we all go to the table and eat."
"FINALLY!" Dinner time was Jake's favorite time of day.

Dinner wasn't too bad. Chicken is Mom's specialty, and she always figures out new ways to make it good. My parents were also on their best behavior because everyone decided to take this opportunity to drill Joy about her life.

"Where do you go to school?"
"Do you like working at Coffee Plantation?"
"Is David your first boyfriend?"
"Are you a virgin?"
I have to say, I was very proud of her for being able to hold up her end of the conversation without getting too uncomfortable. It seemd that everything was going well, until...


"I'll get it." I figured it would be a good thing for Joy to spend some time alone with the family. But, when I went to the door...
"Are you Calvin Adler?"
"No, I'm his son. Can I help you?"
"Just make sure he gets these papers and let him know that he's being served."
"He's being what?"
"Served. With a lawsuit. Good day."

When the server left, I looked at the papers. Apparently my dad screwed someone over and owed them $2,000. Some woman named Lucy Greer. I stood for a moment. What was I supposed to do with this information? It's times like these when I tend to do the stupidest things.

"Dad, can you come here for a second?"
"Yeah, just a second."
He got up from the table and walked over to the front door.
"What's going on?"
"Who is Lucy Greer?"
"Some woman I worked with one time. Why?"
"Well, she's invited you to a party at the courthouse. Cover charge is TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS!"

I didn't realize I had spoken so loudly. Everyone at the table looked at us.

"David, can we please do this tomorrow?"
"Dad, why do you owe this woman money?"
"It's probably a misunderstanding."
"Oh great, another misunderstanding."
"I don't want to do this with you."
"Funny how you can't always get what you want, Dad. You can't have things you can't afford, or else THIS happens."

Sometime during my talk with Dad, Joy had gotten up and taken her purse.

"David, can you take me home? I should probably leave."

I looked at my dad coolly, and then said "Yeah, let's go."

The car ride was silent for awhile.
"So, I really liked your family."
"That's good."
"Your mom's chicken was delicious."
"Always is."

More silence.

"So, what was going on with your dad?"
"Do you really want to know?"
"When do I not want to know?"

I took a deep breath and told her the story.

"Oh my God."
"He just seemed like such a nice man."
"He's not a bad guy. He just--makes a lot of mistakes financially."
"Who doesn't in this economy?"
"He's never been good with money, and he always gets himself in these kinds of binds."
"You mean this isn't the first time."
"This is the first time it's gone to court. Like I said, he's not a bad guy. He just makes a lot of financial mistakes, and moral ones too."
"I thought you said he was religious."
"He knows the Torah, just not how to apply it to real life."

We talked for a while longer about my dad's history--his childhood that consisted of getting everything he wanted, and his irresponsible lifestyle choices. And then we talked about my mom, who is a martyr for having taken my father's crap for 23 years, and then we talked about how depressing it was that Libby still lived at home, and how Jake can be so irrationally immature. That is when we got to her place, and I walked her to her door. It was about 9:30.

"So, besides the end, I had a really great time with your family. I definitely want to meet them again."
"I'm sure my mom would love to have you."
"Well, goodnight."
"Don't let my dad's past shape your opinion of him."
"David, I'm sure I will love your dad just like I love his son."
She paused for a moment.

"I love you?"
I was shocked. I mean, we had only been dating for three weeks, but they were some of the best weeks of my life. I didn't know what to say, so I said the only thing I really could say.

"I don't know what to say."
It was probably the wrong thing to say, but at that point in time, it was the only thing I felt I could say honestly. Honesty is supposed to be the best policy, but whoever said that probably never had a high school girlfriend.
David Adler
Normal High School Student