Monday, 27 June 2011

In which meeting the parents goes horribly wrong

Meeting the family of a new partner can be an exceptionally stressful experience.

Will they like you? Will you like them? Will they think you’re entirely wrong for their loved one and want you out of the picture as soon as possible? Will they go out of their way thoroughly to humiliate you by showing the object of your affection every single picture of you ever taken as a two year-old, including the one they saw fit to put in the local paper on your eighteenth birthday in which you’re wearing absolutely nothing other than a large grin and your late grandmother’s hairnet?

The latter, for clarification, is a favourite of Family Blonde. Or, at least, I imagine it would be, but I’ve not taken a man home to meet the parents since I was eighteen (and even he was shown that photo).

Thus it probably comes as little surprise that I’m in no great rush to introduce The Writer to the parentals. I’m quite capable of humiliating myself enough in front of him by throwing myself headlong into the Soho pavement (as I did on our first date) than to need a slideshow of baby photos reeled out.

It’s a decision about which I remain convinced, having received an email this week that’s been doing the rounds.

The reaction of Social Circle Blonde was one of simultaneous and equal disbelief, horror and glee as they enjoyed a stark lesson in How Not to Meet the Parents…

[Names, places changed to protect… well, everyone. Everything else has been left just as it was. Those of a nervous / I-don’t-understand-the-English disposition should look away now.]

From: Unimpressed Future in-Law []
Sent: 10 May 2011 06:51
To: Persona non grata
Subject: Manners

Persona non grata,

It is high time someone explained to you about good manners. Yours are obvious by their absence and I feel sorry for you.

I am being kept awake – or woken early – by Other Unimpressed Future in-Law who is so profoundly upset by your behaviour on your recent visit that he is depressed and anxious.

Unfortunately for Darling Boy, he has fallen in love with you and Darling Boy being Darling Boy, I gather it is not easy to reason with him or yet encourage him to consider how he might be able to help you. It may just be possible to get through to you though. I do hope so. Your behaviour on your visit to Where We Live was staggering in its uncouthness and lack of grace. Unfortunately, this was not the first example of bad manners I have experienced from you. If you want to be accepted by the wider inLaw family I suggest you take some guidance from experts with utmost haste. There are plenty of finishing schools around. You would be an ideal candidate for the Ladette to Lady television series. Please, for your own good, for Darling Boy’s sake and for your future involvement with the inLaw family, do something as soon as possible.
Here are a few examples of your lack of manners:

When you are a guest in another’s house, you do not declare what you will and will not eat – unless you are positively allergic to something.

You do not remark that you do not have enough food.

You do not start before everyone else.

You do not take additional helpings without being invited to by your host.

When a guest in another’s house, you do not lie in bed until late morning in households that rise early – you fall in line with house norms.

You should never ever insult the family you are about to join at any time and most definitely not in public. I gather you passed this off as a joke but the reaction in the pub was one of shock, not laughter.

I have no idea whether you wrote to thank Other Daughter in Law for the weekend but you should have hand-written a card to her.

You should have hand-written a card to me. You have never written to thank me when you have stayed at Our House.

Other Daughter in Law has quite the most exquisite manners of anyone I have ever come across. You would do well to follow her example.

You regularly draw attention to yourself. Perhaps you should ask yourself why.

It is tragic that you have diabetes. However, you aren’t the only young person in the world who is a diabetic. I know quite a few young people who have this condition, one of whom is getting married in June. I have never heard her discuss her condition. She quietly gets on with it. She doesn’t like being diabetic. Who would? You do not need to regale everyone with the details of your condition or use it as an excuse to draw attention to yourself. It is vulgar.

As a diabetic of long standing you must be acutely aware of the need to prepare yourself for extraordinary eventualities, the walk to Nice Place on the Coast being an example. You are experienced enough to have prepared yourself appropriately.

No one gets married in a castle unless they own it. It is brash, celebrity style behaviour.

I understand your parents are unable to contribute very much towards the cost of your wedding. (There is nothing wrong with that except that convention is such that one might presume they would have saved over the years for their daughters’ marriages.) If this is the case, it would be most ladylike and gracious to lower your sights and have a modest wedding as befits both your incomes.

One could be accused of thinking that Persona non grata must be patting herself on the back for having caught a most eligible young man. I pity Darling Boy.
Unimpressed Future in-Law

Suddenly, the fact that the worst I can expect is a little embarrassment at the hands of Pa Blonde after one too many glasses of Malbec is a huge relief.


modelofamodernmajorgeneral said...


If I were her, I'd run a mile from that family. What a bunch of crushing bores; I bet they have a knitted figure to go over their loo rolls.....

Will said...

Those people need to pull the rod from their collective arses.

Meeting parents isn't *that* hard, unless they fall into the overly stuffy (see above) or are unprepared to accept that their little one is a grown up.

nuttycow said...

Muwhaha. It amuses me that Modelofamodernmajorgeneral is quite so scathing. He knows full well that my family wouldn't expect any less either. (Although, they probably wouldn't write to persona non grata!)

And no, we don't have a knitted figure to go over the loo rolls (does anyone?!)

You know my views on the matter - I love Unimpressed Future-in-law!

HC said...

Wait, how did I miss who the "Writer" is.

Zstep said...

Blonde has been keeping secrets. "The Writer"? Who?

As for the e-mail, what an awful person. Whomever that was addressed to should stay far, far away from that family. It can't end well.

Blonde said...

Major Gen: Quite.

Will: Oh, I dunno. It can be a nerve-wracking thing for those of us out of practice.

NC: I think the salient difference is that, as you say, yours wouldn't put their disapproval in writing!

HC & Zstep: You've not been reading closely enough..! I've snuck him into a few posts previously - I just didn't want to jinx things. He has a concise entry in the case list if you need more info. x

Amy said...

Two things.

This is...incredible. I can imagine certain families being upset by such a lack of manners, but to send such an e-mail is so rude, far ruder than anything persona non grata did.

In other news, I read the comments and checked out The Writer on the cast list. Your first date lasted three days? Wow. That's rather brilliant. I thought things like that only happened in novels.

The Redhead said...

Oh dear lord. I read that letter through my hands.

Brennig said...

J.F.C. That is all. Oh, and I'm pretty sure I know the identify of The Writer.

Zstep said...

No fair! You NEVER update the cast and your updates gave no clue of this level of relationship. That said, good for you.

HC said...

What Zstep said. Sneaky sneakerson.

Redbookish said...

I thought letters like tat were written in green ink, not emails. How vulgar. Except for the advice about castles, which is sound. I follow it all the time, and avoid castles unless I'm buying one (a la Wemmick).

And < ahem > The Writer, eh? I did notice the name just slipped into a post or tweet or two. Spill ...

Or does he read this? If he does, test him on the literary reference above.


modelofamodernmajorgeneral said...

revenge is publication in a national newspaper

looby said...

That one won't last.

I like the fact that we're only getting little allusions to The Writer!

etoilee8 said...

She sounds awful but they sound eager to criticize. All together a terrible combination! Yikes!

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