Meeting the parents.....
Usually when I meet the parents of the guy I’m seeing it’s awkward, a little nerve-racking and most of the time I sit there praying that I don’t do anything overly embarrassing – which for me is incredibly difficult.
Paolo and I have been hanging out for awhile now, so we briefly talked about how maybe I'd meet his parents sometime. I was ok with the murky unknown, but I also didn’t want them to think I was hesitant about meeting them, but if I met them I wanted it to go smoothly.
Naturally, life had other plans.
A couple weeks ago Paolo and I spend the day walking around on the hills in the sunshine. It was a glorious day. We went back into Bergamo and stopped at our favorite gelato shop, Grom. I highly recommend that if you are in Italy, go to Grom. Anyway, we are sitting there in our usual corner, devouring our cones of gelato when a couple walks in and stares directly at us.
Instantly I got this sinking feeling. That’s got to be his parents. Instantly I became super aware of my awkwardness.
Crap. They’re walking over here. Do I stand up to shake their hand? I’m in a skirt, crap I bet it looks short when I’m sitting. I can’t start pulling on it now, they’re almost here. Do I have cone in my teeth?
His parents were exactly the way I imagined them – in reverse. I had imagined his mom as this shorter, slightly plump from all her cooking, with a cheery disposition and an eagerness to talk. I imagined his dad as a tall, thin serious man with a face that was kind but usually neutral in expression. Literally the exact opposite. It was like I had imagined them as each other in exact detail. I had to chuckle a little when I realized that Paolo is basically the male version of his mother looks wise and exactly like his father personality wise.
All this raced through my brain while I sat there, gelato melting listening to his mother ask him what we had been doing all day.
Paolo’s father turned to me instantly and said, “Hi! It is so good to meet you,” and stuck out his hand.
Do I stand? Do I keep sitting? Sit, stand, sit, stand…. I couldn’t deicide, so naturally, I did the most awkward thing a person could do and half stood, half sat as I shook his hand and turned to his mother to shake her hand as well.
“Hi, nice to meet you both I’ve heard a lot about you,” I said. I made the two inch journey back to my sitting position on the bench and listened again as the conversation returned to Italian.
I could feel my cheeks going bright red as they excused themselves to get in line for gelato. I looked over at Paolo and was relieved to see that he was a just a few shades of red less embarrassed than I was.
“Should we go over there,” I asked as I grew increasingly concerned that we were being rude as we watched them rejoin his aunt and uncle across the shop with their gelato.
“No, we can go over there when we’re finished,” Paolo replied.
I looked down at my cone. Basically for me finished was that moment. I looked at Paolo’s cone. He still had half a cone left. I slowed down and made my cone last for as long as I could and continued to mentally prep myself for the whole new level of awkward this was going to come to as soon as we walked over there.
After what seemed like an eternity of trying my hardest not to just stare at them across the room, Paolo stood up adjusted his leather jacket and we walked over. Naturally, everyone continued in Italian – except for Paolo’s father who was eager to use his English.
“My English is rusty,” he said. “But I try!”
I smiled and said, “Sorry for my Italian, it doesn’t exist.” His father chuckled and I listened in on Paolo’s mother and aunt hound him about why we hadn’t come to get pizza with them. Paolo had failed to mention we had an invite to dinner, he claimed he thought his mother asked because she wanted to know if he would be home to take care of the dogs. Part of me was really glad that we hadn’t gone to pizza. I don’t think it’s exactly impressive to parents how quickly I can wolf down an entire pizza. (It’s just so darn good here, I can’t help myself!)
“They even validate your parking,” said his mother in Italian. “You just take your ticket in and they pay for the parking garage.”
It’s moments like these, when I can understand the conversation but have no words to reply that I really start to kick myself for not trying harder to learn Italian in the 7 months that I’ve been here.
“You need to speak in English,” Paolo’s father joked to his wife. I blushed, again. They talked more in Italian, I continued to stand there awkwardly and nod along. Then I became painfully aware that a new potentially awkward moment was brewing, the good bye.
Do I shake hands again? Surely the kisses on the cheeks are just going to turn to disaster, so let’s just rule that out now and not even go for it. Smart plan.
“Goodbye,” his father said cheerfully. “It was so good to meet you!”
We shook hands and I said, “It was good to meet you, too!”
I turned to his mother, shook her hand and with a smile said, “Nice to meet you!”
I could feel her eyes studying my face as she shook my hand and smiled and said, “And you.”
I slipped my arm through Paolo’s at the elbow as we turned to walk back to our car.
“Well, I guess I met your parents,” I said. All the months of worrying and waiting until the moment was right were over. In a way meeting his parents in a surprise way was the best way. It was short, could have been more awkward and I got to chow down on my favorite gelato. All in all, not too bad a way to meet the parents.