Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Even an Old Dog Can Learn New Tricks/My Engagement Party

About two weeks ago, B and I had an engagement party at a local restaurant in Orlando. I couldn’t believe it was time when the day finally arrived. I had spent so many months emailing back and forth with a florist, a cupcake truck, the venue, and my parents who were the hosts. If that was how I felt about a small party, than I can't even imagine how it would feel to be done planning a wedding. The turn-out was mostly close friends and family and it was only about 27 people but it was perfect. The food was great, my vintage dress was great, the company was great, and oh yeah, my fiancĂ© is pretty great too. There is one thing though that surprised me during this party. However, to understand why it was so surprising to me you need a little background information on my family.

Let’s see. How do I describe my dad? His favorite actor is Jack Nicholson and his favorite movie is “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”. His favorite subjects are nature-related activities (hiking, biking, camping etc.), American Idol, football, computer gaming, and farting. For instance, I was at my parents’ house for my dad’s sixtieth birthday recently and they were telling me about a trip they took to some caverns. My dad is probably one of the few people in the world who would choose to drive several hours on their day off just to hang out in some hole in the ground. He told me that during the whole cavern tour that the tour guide was bombing them with SBDs (silent but deadlys) and that he thought she was sick or drank too much the night before. Don't ask me how my dad became a gastrointestinal specialist when he has always worked for an environmental protection agency. Although I guess that is somewhat related but I need to stop with the stupid fart jokes right now.  My mom fires back at him with, “You only think it was her because she went to the bathroom right after the tour!” I’m still not sure why my mom has some allegiance with the tour guide but I guess the culprit could have been anyone to be fair. Everyone loves a little flatulent dinner conversation…at least in my immediate family.

When we were little my dad would carry my sister and I to bed every night and then mom and dad would each take time to say goodnight to us separately and give us a goodnight kiss and hug. My dad was the tickle monster and if my cousins were around there would be four kids at one time climbing all over him as he tickle attacked us. Every year we would go camping around Christmas time when the weather was cool and he also took us orienteering and hiking. When we got a little older we biked, played basketball, and went roller blading together. I went on to be the wannabe jock in high school where I swam and ran cross country. As we got even older, my sister and I spent more time doing homework and my dad spent more time playing computer games on his PC. We frequently argued over who got time to do homework or play around on the family computer. As time went on, he did some biking events with a group of coworkers but eventually his social circle became pretty small.

My dad is a guy who likes to do things his way. He’s very stubborn, very (EXTREMELY) routined, and doesn’t like to try a lot of new things. He’s also antisocial but it’s not because he doesn’t know how to be social, it’s just that he finds most people annoying. He prefers cats, they don’t argue back as much. I used to try and change my parents when I was a teenager and even into my early twenties. I couldn’t understand why someone in their fifties would have to go bed at 9pm every night or do things the same way every time. Now that I’m a bit older, I have learned to accept my parents for the way they are and I’ve learned that they are not going to change. They have no reason to change because they are happy.

When my parents were 17 and 18 years old, they moved 1,000 miles away from a small town in Ohio to a moderately big city in Florida by themselves. They got married in a courthouse so they wouldn’t have to have their parents’ permission to get married and they never had a formal wedding. After they got hitched at the courthouse they simply had some cake at my grandma’s house to celebrate. I think if I were that far away from family and had to figure out how to make it out there in the cold, hard world I too would stick to what worked and not change it. I see things differently now that I’ve been thrusted into the “cold, hard” adult working world, and I see that things have actually worked out very well for them. Both have worked in the same jobs for over 25 years and have two college-educated daughters.

Since I’ve announced my engagement, my parents have felt a bit uneasy about this wedding stuff. My mom immediately ordered books on wedding etiquette from the library. She calls me and says, “This book says the groom’s parents’ responsibility to pay for this and the bride’s parents’responsibility to pay for that, and the bride’s father makes a toast at the engagement party, yadda, yadda, yadda”. Every time my mom says things like that I tell her that those books are archaic and that we can do things our own way. B and I aren’t set on being super traditional since we are a modern couple. I wash the cars, do the laundry, and B takes out the trash, and takes care of all computer techy issues. We switch around on loading the dishwasher and cooking. We do things as we see fit and don’t feel like we need to conform to anything……just like my parents. Nonconfirmists conformists cycle, yes?

 I never expected my dad to make any toasts or to even walk down the aisle with me. He’s shy about public speaking and DOES NOT like to get dressed up for anything. Plus, I’m not really fond of the idea of my dad “giving me away”. I mean, what about my mom? Or what if I’m not really being given away and I’m choosing to get married?

 He surprised me with a very short and sweet toast after a little push by way of glass clacking from my sister and I (heeheee…). Afterwards, he was sitting next to me and he says,

“Hey, I think you should have a football team of kids.”

This is weird for several reasons. One is because my parents’ have always told me to take my time with getting married and having kids. "Don't rush", they always said. Another is because he’s never really treated me like a girl….he never called me nicknames like “sugar, honey, princess, kitten, daddy’s little girl, sweetheart” etc. If he ever started doing that I think it would make me twinge and vomit in my mouth a little. He’s always been a tough, strict, man’s man kind of a guy. So I looked right at him and said,

“Who’s going to pay for that?!”

I was so surprised that I have no idea what his response was….something about moving north to this small town outside the area where I went to college. Maybe that whole conversation was just the sangria talking. Either way, I’m really glad that I won’t be moving 1,000 miles away from my parents and that they will at least be in the same state to help me raise my kids. I’m also glad that I have come to accept my crazy family and that this will make my wedding a breeze. Not THAT KIND of a breeze, dad. Yuckity yuck. Also, if you do walk me down the aisle no beans or sauerkraut the day before, alright???

No comments: