Perplexing Parents

Previously on Greg & Vicky’s Life:

Our heroes have held high harrowing goals of grandiose greatness in Puerto Rico.

The dynamic duo has deterred daunting difficulties as they make their marital moments more melodramatic.

What’s this? It appears that the parents haven’t been talked about much!

Naan naan naan bread!

Most less-than-ideal engagements with others are rarely ever “done”. Some revisit after a few years, others linger as protracted soap operas and some never seem to want to go away even when you tell them to. Getting along with other humans is rarely clear-cut, typically complex, often annoying, sometimes downright stupid and usually involves all affected parties performing at 23% normal operating brainpower. Family usually brings it down to 14%.

Two Fridays ago, April 29th, we met with my parents. My parents are well-intentioned strange people who have the world’s best intentions and some of the least-polished behaviors to execute those intentions. I’ve inherited those behaviors, though my approach is to be a flaming awkward.

My relationship with them is nothing if not complex. It’s somewhere between prime-time soap opera and telenovella status. I mostly blame my mom for the oddness of the relationship (calling Dr. Freud), but my dad’s not fully exempt from adding to the weird.

My mother has a superpower. I call it Fog-Blasting. She can summon a magic fog at will to hide any problem that somehow ties to her, and from the mist can pinpoint others’ most obvious personal problems and turn every gun in the room to the only visible non-her thing around. Fog-Blasting was genetically passed from her mom to her, and I was slated to inherit it. However, for some inexplicable reason people with Social Skills don’t like Fog-Blasting, so I rebuilt the power in my secret laboratory into Blunt-Cutting.

As a high-functioning autistic savant under tremendous social pressure, I had to read how people worked in order to survive. Since it was a constant battle against Fog-Blasting without any real outside influence like church groups or family friends or 15 siblings, I had developed inhuman people-reading super-skills. Blunt-Cutting just took that to the next level. I could wield truths nobody else noticed like a +3 Enchanted Ancient Giant Club of Alacrity to bludgeon others into accepting whatever I wanted them to accept.

This becomes less of a “call a therapist” story and more of a “call Oprah” story, however, because of my dad. His superpower was Counter-Balancing. He was the third country that would attack whichever country was strongest to further other ulterior goals. Think Switzerland with a scary huge army. His whole goal was peace. This goal was about as noble and attainable as Israeli-Arab peace (see: snowball’s chance).

There was a unique pattern to the constant stream of dysfunction that I was raised in. There would be a disagreement with my mom and I, my dad would jump in and defend her, she would start saying unreasonable things to “put me in my place”, he’d then use his Counter-Balance powers against my mom because of how unfair things were for me, my mom would activate her Fog-Blasting to redirect the problem at me, I’d pull out the Blunt-Cutting and everyone would mark me as the supervillain, and the cycle would repeat itself again but much louder. Repeat the Mexican standoff until someone pretends nothing happened or cops get called.

Since then, there has been some much-needed distance and (likely) growth. I can only be blamed in the past-tense, and I now tend to use Blunt-Cutting as a last resort.

However, the Fog-Blasting hasn’t fully stopped, and Vicky now has to contend with this dynamic in light of its newfound impotence and oldfound strangeness. There are several factors that drive this experience.

Firstly, my mom held out for a long time that my future wife was going to “rehabilitate” me. They saw grand visions of me becoming the upstanding model citizen that exemplified normalcy and graciousness of speech, and all it would take was the loving and dedicated efforts of a woman that I could be effectively whipped into submitting to. Somehow they didn’t get the memo that I have more in common with Spock than with the Beav.

Another element is the comically stupid bias my mom likes to flaunt. She thinks that all men are to be distrusted and are trying to take advantage of her. Fun Fact for your next feminist meeting: men make up more of the human population than all the people who don’t live in Asia!

My mom has been working hard to try to force Vicky into the implicit intimate relationship that bonds all women together, fueled in no small part by a detachment from her own succubus mother. All women on this planet share an intimate sistren with all other women, and no man can truly understand that. That sounds strange, you say? Well, that’s because there isn’t one.

I mean, sure, women have a genetic disposition towards understanding each other, but I’m fairly certain a white (sorry, Caucasian) Ugg-loving Starbucks-downing blonde girl would probably empathize more closely with a whitecasian Starbucks-downing raised-truck-driving Axe-wearing bro than your typical Zulu female.

My mom’s latent sexism puts an unfair burden on Vicky to be close to her while at the same time discriminates against all my man-ual thinking. She is not only being freakishly awkward around her waiting for her to pour her heart out, she is also hurting her by hurting me. Contrary to popular opinion, men sometimes have feelings too.

This was basically the purpose of the conversation on Friday, though from the outset it appeared to be aimed at both of them.

In short, nothing was resolved. My mom still prefers to look down on men and will do anything possible to prove she has the ad-man-tage, even to the point of disputing with the three of us about the definitions of words and openly admitting but telling us we can’t understand what she’s thinking (which included Vicky ironically enough).

It does make me wonder something. How can someone so biased against men also claim to have a close relationship with Jesus. I mean, the last I checked, there is some vague theological evidence to imply that He was probably a man.

Anyway, we can now rest in the knowledge that Vicky has the blessing of a socially defunct mother-in-law to accentuate her negligent and controlling biological mother. One big happy family.

Truthfully, it’s not all bad. One of the positives from our experience is the realization that my dad has been undermined significantly by my mom, which is a much more comforting thought than both of them doing the Social Lobotomy Dance.

Also, beyond that unresolved comfort, one of the values that we’ve found worth holding to is within God’s promises. The reality is that our spiritual family in Christ is more important to us than the physical family we share meat shapes with. In reality, that’s probably what ought to be most important to a Christian to start with.

We celebrated Mother’s Day with my mom and dad last night, and the story is far from finished, partly because Vicky could sense a cool icy breeze wafting her way from my mom’s somewhat polished exterior. Thankfully, we were mature enough to not unleash our true power, probably because we were at a restaurant.

One thing I’m looking forward to is seeing what latent powers Vicky unveils. I’ve tried all sorts of strange hardships on her to bring it out, but nothing has broken through yet. I guess we’ll start dunking her in acid soon or exposing her to public awkwardness.

We still haven’t seen any movement on her family’s end, and now that it’s Mother’s Day, we’re waiting for the enemy’s movement on the eastern front. My instinct is to send a loud signal showing that we’re ready to fight, but she doesn’t see the advantage of giving away our position yet. Against my urges, it appears we’re going to have to bide our time.

Until later, stay frisky, America!


Dress Shopping

Buying a wedding dress has a lot of tradition tied to the experience. The traditional one involves mothers, mother-in-laws-to-be, sisters, sisters-to-be, cousins, cousins-to-be and best friends gathering around the bride to see what she chooses for her gown. They comment on it, give their own input, and add to the process. This whole experience can take weeks.

My experience, however, turned out to be nothing close to traditional.

Originally I thought that the only way a bride goes about getting a dress is to look up and visit every bridal store within the nearest 200 miles. I had no intention of doing this for a dress I was only going to wear once.

It suddenly dawned on me that I don’t actually have to. I don’t have to go to the “bridal” stores to find my wedding dress. I realized that if I wanted to I could simply go to a thrift store, buy a gown and tailor it to my preference or I could just plain order it online!

One day after realizing this, Greg and I were out shopping. I saw a fashion store I had always wanted to check out. You ladies know this kind of store: it’s one of those fun bargain fashion stores where their return policy is store credit if they even do returns. Any woman who cares about what she wears and also cares about not being poor is all over those stores like hummingbirds to sugar water!

Much to my glee and excitement, I saw the dress I wanted as we drove by. We stopped, and after I had repeatedly assured Greg that this wouldn’t take long I tried on the dress.

In spite of the size being slightly more snug than I’m comfortable with, the dress was everything I wanted, even though I may alter it with a slight 1950’s flair. Not to mention, I paid less than $50 for it!

Unfortunately, this was the start of another problem I hadn’t anticipated. I was talking with a single friend (And available! Ask for details!) a month later and she had asked if I’d found a dress yet. I told her I had found one and that Greg had been with me. She was surprised when I told her that Greg had seen the dress I chose.

I’ve never been superstitious, and I don’t think that it is bad luck for the groom to see the dress before the wedding ceremony. My friend was clearly expecting that I had gone the more traditional route and had at least one girlfriend involved in my shopping experience.

After the discussion with her I started wondering if I should have done that instead. After all, isn’t that the right thing to do? Why would I ever go shopping by myself when I can bring along a friend, especially for something so important?

After thinking about it for a few weeks, I mentioned it to one of my other married friends. As it turned out, she had purchased her dress at a thrift store as well, all by herself! The dress she bought was exactly what she wanted and she made the necessary alterations for it on her own.

From her I found out something liberating, though a bit obvious. Whatever works best for one bride is good for one bride, but each bride should do whatever works best for her. For me, finding a dress at a regular fashion store and then playing with ideas to alter it worked best. It’s better to be happy with the opportunities given than unhappy with the limitations that are far more common.