I walked in from work, and checked my voicemail; “Hi Elaine, my parents are inviting us for dinner next week. Will Friday work for you? Love you.”
Well, it’s meet-the-parents time. I was pleased. Tim’s “Love you,” pleased me even more. He had used these two words over the weekend. I was a bit surprised, and did not repeat the words back to him. I was almost over a nasty breakup. At least, I think I was, but still a bit cautious. Tim and I were in a fairly new relationship.
Dinner. Hmmm. I knew Tim had a younger sister, Kate. They were close. There was an older brother, Larry, alienated from the parents. Tim had not given me the particulars. The parents, Molly and Dan, both taught at the community college. Tim had told me, “I always was Mom’s favorite.”
I liked Tim. Liked him a lot. We met at work. Fortunately, we were in different offices. I abhorred office romances. Had been down that road. Never again. The night of the dinner, I changed clothes four times before Tim arrived. Why is it so difficult to dress in casual clothes? My favorite black sweater looked dowdy. Jeans too tight. Molly will think I am a slut. I settled on nice black pants, and a cream-colored sweater. The gold chain, a gift from Tim for our first month anniversary, completed my just a casual dinner outfit.
Tim rang the doorbell at his parents’ house, then opened the door, “Hi, it’s me.” A welcome wreath adorned the front door. Dan gave me a bear hug before Tim introduced us.
“Hi, I’m Kate,” his sister took my hand. She hugged Tim and said, “Brother, you have good taste.” She winked at me.
“Molly, Tim and his girlfriend are here.” Dan grinned at his son. In walked Molly. Tim had neglected to tell me that she was a beautiful brunette, and looked like a dancer. Wow.
Molly kissed Tim before greeting me. I felt a tiny bit of anxiety. Couldn’t put my finger on it. Din-ner conversation was friendly. Dan asked about my job. He seemed genuinely interested in me. Kate was curious about my apartment. “It is time for me to find my own place, and give Mom and Dad their privacy.” She grinned. Molly did not comment.
I complimented Molly on the delicious dinner, “My mother is a good cook, but I did not inherit that gene.”
Molly’s comment, “Anyone can cook well, if they want to take the time. Young women today don’t care. They think it is a choice between career and making a home for the family. I have done both quite well.” The table got quiet for a moment.
Then Kate began clearing the dishes. I offered to help. Molly followed us to the kitchen. She gave Kate a gentle push, “Why don’t you visit with your brother. We seldom see him now that he has a new girlfriend.”
I wanted to follow Kate. I don’t like where this is going.
Molly began to tell me about Tim’s asthma attacks as a child. How she had felt the need to protect him from undo stress. “I still worry,” she said with a tight smile; “His last lady friend took ad-vantage of him. Asking Tim to help her move, and lug big boxes up a flight of stairs.”
Last lady friend. We had not discussed exes. Does he still have asthma?
She went on to tell me about Larry: “My other son stomped out of the house a year ago. Apparently, he didn’t like my tone of voice with the woman he had brought to dinner. I could tell she was not his type. She wore jeans to meet us.” I won’t lose Tim. Believe me.”
Oh, I believe you.
Tim walked into the kitchen, “Mom, don’t tell Elaine all my secrets.” He put an arm around each of us. She gave me that tight smile again. Molly took Tim’s arm and asked, “Why don’t you come for dinner next Thursday.” Was I included in the invitation?
I reminded Tim, “Oh that is my night to volunteer at the hospital.” When Tim tried to suggest an-other night, his mother interrupted, “Oh, I have a busy week. Why don’t you come anyway. We need to catch up.”
As Tim and I walked to the car, he kissed me. “I can tell you were a big hit with the family, especially with Mom.”
All the way home, Tim talked about the fun evening with his family. Does he not see the family dynamics? Is he clueless? Am I dating a mama’s boy?
When we arrived at my place, I told him I was tired and I did not invite him in. Unusual. “Okay, honey, I hope everything is okay;” he kissed me.
There was one voicemail message on my phone, “Elaine, this is Molly, please call me in the morn-ing.”
Rosanne Trost is a retired oncology nurse. She lives in Houston, Texas. After retirement, she found her passion for creative writing. Her work has appeared in a variety of print and online journals, including Months To Years, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Commuter Lit and Nerve Cowboy.