Closet update: I filled four large trash bags with clothes (three to give away, one to throw away). It was surprisingly easier than I imagined, though I stopped short of going through my shoes or jewelry since those things don’t do as well stuffed into trash bags. I imagine there will be a few things I’ll miss – Doug was impressed that I had a story to go with every article of clothing (ok, maybe not every pair of underwear) – but in the end, they’re just things. And I kept a few things I shouldn’t have, considering I never wear them, with the caveat that, if they still haven’t been worn by the end of the summer, they’re gone. Overall, I feel pretty good about it. Especially the fact that I can actually close my dresser drawers. (The jeans are still in their pile on the floor, though…)
Tonight we went to dinner with some of Doug’s friends, a couple that used to be friends with his dad and stepmom until they had a falling out one Christmas, about eight years ago. Doug took a chance and wrote them a letter a few weeks ago and finally got a call from them yesterday. (They explained that they’d had to take some time to decide how they wanted to handle the situation, and ultimately decided – I suppose, anyway – that Doug is his own adult now, capable of adult relationships without his parents’ involvement.)
So let me preface this by saying that I understand that people often become caricatures of themselves in awkward or unfamiliar situations: whenever Doug meets any of my friends for the first time, he monopolizes the conversation with tall tales; I tend to get even more quiet around people I don’t know. It’s a strange sort of defense mechanism: we present ourselves in our most concentrated form, like, “If you can’t handle this, then don’t even bother with my better side.”
That being said, Doug’s friends made me kind of uncomfortable. They’re a child-free couple in their mid-40s; they obviously have some money. The wife was very nice, accomodating, friendly, well put-together. The husband was doing what Doug does and overcompensating for the unfamiliarity of the situation: talking non-stop, making lewd jokes, throwing cuss words around, repeatedly referring to lean male cyclists as “chicks” and “retards.”
The thing that got me, though, was that anytime Doug would tell a story about a member of his family – not just his dad and stepmom, but his siblings, his other set of parents, a random aunt or cousin – this guy would tell us pointedly not to have children. “Stop that gene pool right there,” he’d say.
I didn’t really know what to do with these comments, which, in fairness, I think were meant to be jokes – just another way to make fun of Doug. But no one’s ever told me not to reproduce before. So I did something that comes very naturally to me in situations like this one: I kept my mouth shut. And then I started trying to figure out which of my friends I could get donor sperm from, as though I was meant to take this advice seriously.
Fortunately or unfortunately, we stayed at dinner for three hours, which gave everyone a chance to mellow. Towards the end of our evening, the couple opened up and explained their side of the fall-out with Doug’s parents, and it was mostly understandable. The husband told me not to talk so much next time (a joke I’ve certainly never heard before), and the wife pointed out that maybe I would if he’d let me get a word in edgewise.
And next time, I think, the first words I will deliver will be something along the lines of, “Please don’t make jokes about how we shouldn’t have kids. I want to have Doug’s kids. All things considered, with the excess of slightly crazy people in his excess of family units, I think he’s turned out really well. And I think he’ll make a great dad.”
With that off my chest, I’ll be happy to make fun of Doug and his family right alongside them.
Why I could never take out a Personals ad
A sense of humor, a good smile
often, passionate about something other than women,
clean fingernails, strong arms, understands
allusions but doesn’t judge those who don’t,
the ability to sit in silence, plays well with hair, thinks
about the future, lives in the present, pays his own
rent, opens car doors, at least 5’6″,
types fast, looks good in a kilt, can carry a conversation,
sleeps next to me, dark brown eyes, no missing teeth,
watches cartoons, has opinions and convictions but
is open-minded, honesty, honesty,
honesty, looks good in costumes, gives
compliments and takes them, respectful,
cries, laughs, doesn’t smoke, liked by my daddy,
enjoys travel, hugs and holds, expresses concern,
is not in love with his mother, photogenic,
quick-witted, gives piggyback rides, believes in
(Doug meets nowhere near all of these nine-year-old criteria. I don’t care. He and his defective gene pool are perfect for me anyway.)