Wednesday, November 4, 2009

That's just the way they are

It all started the first day they met. Big E followed the muddy footprints on her white carpet to the exact place on the couch where Ton Ton was sitting. Her first words to him were "you better figure out a way to clean this up!" Ton Ton looked startled and said, "hi, nice to meet you," and I immediately resorted to my standard reaction in awkward situations -- hysterical laughter. Not wiping his feet was a MAJOR faux pas in a house where the Lysol bottle gets cleaned with 409, and vice versa.

That bumpy start marked the beginning of what has blossomed to become a mountainous relationship. There is a running joke in Big E's house that anybody can break or misplace whatever they want because, in the end, Ton Ton will get the blame. She even accused him of breaking the sugar bowl. The sugar bowl. Perhaps type I diabetic, insulin dependent Ton Ton decided he just couldn't take it anymore, tried to put himself in a hyperglycemic coma, and snapped off the handle on the bowl containing his poison in the process. Yea, that's totally what happened.

Now I know, based on my 26 years of experience with Big E, that her seemingly combative banter with my husband is all in good fun. That not so deep down in her heart, she actually likes him -- I'll even venture to say that she LOVES him. She makes snarky comments and blames him for everything because...well, because that's just the way she is. She doesn't really mean it.

Still, as much as I've tried to explain that she's joking, sometimes Ton Ton just doesn't see the humor in phrases like, "you led my daughter to a path of debauchery and alcoholism" or "thank God Luki looks nothing like you!"

Recently, I realized that he probably never will. But before I tell you about that, a related aside and piece of advice:

Single ladies, do not think that you've struck gold when you meet a man whose parents live abroad. When your in-laws live in a different country, they come to visit for many months at a time. I have done the math, and you actually end up spending more time with them than if they lived down the street and you saw them for a couple of hours every day. Your best bet is to marry someone whose parents live across the country. Far enough so that you won't have to see them every day, but not far enough to warrant extended visits. You'll thank me later.

As you may recall, Ton Ton's mother, Mamacita, has arrived from Venezuela and will be staying through January. Although I appreciate that she is much more reserved than my own mother, her lack of enthusiasm about everything, except, of course, her grandson, is often hard for me to swallow. As much as Ton Ton tells me that she is enjoying herself, I just don't see the cheerfulness behind her stern facade. "That's just the way she is!" he explains, echoing my reason for Big E's behavior all these years, "just because she doesn't smile all the time, doesn't mean she isn't happy to be here." And I believe him, even though it makes no sense to me whatsoever.

No, we'll probably never understand each other's mothers, but one thing sure is clear -- on my birthday, while Ton Ton and I partook in acts of "debauchery and alcoholism," both of Luki's grandmas were on hand to babysit -- we are lucky, lucky people to have them around.

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