(no, your eyes don’t deceive you, that IS sentence case you see. for your friday, i figured i’d let you in on another chapter from the “it’s taking MUCH longer to write than i had originally envisioned” book. the snippets have to buy me some time though, right? i like to think so).
They say you can tell a lot about a man based on how he treats his mother. And while yes, this is certainly true, I’d like to take it one further and declare that you can tell a lot more about a man by how he treats your mother.
In high school, meeting the parents wasn’t as big of deal as it is once released into the confines of adulthood. For the main reason being, you already live with them so there are no grand introductions or special scheduled trips, just a “Hey, Mom and Dad can you come down and meet [insert generic boy’s name here]?” or, if you’re not quick to the draw, when the doorbell rang, chances are Momma or Pops were the ones greeting your boy toy at the door.
And maybe that’s where I lucked out. My parents weren’t (update: they still aren’t) the intimidating type –Dad wasn’t out in front polishing his shotgun and Mom certainly wasn’t asking you your intentions. No, well, first off, they were probably just happy I was taking a break from the books to take an interest in the world of dating, so rather than attempting to scare off my suitor, they simply embraced him -my mother offered her hand and the insistence of referring to her by her first name (she hates formality) and my father put him at ease with the obligatory male-bonding subject of what else? Sports.
It’s funny to look back on how the initial moments of my former flings’ first meeting with my parents played out. Like the boys themselves, each introduction was just as unique in nature. And while I suppose choosing a “favorite” would be like electing a favorite horizontal striped shirt or season of Real Housewives (okay, so I may or may not be partial to the ladies of Orange County, but don’t tell the other cities), there is one boy whose first meeting with my mother certainly earned a spot on the wall of fame (in a good way). And even almost a decade later, there has yet to be a man who has won over my momma as much as my first official boyfriend.
So I just kind of fibbed. This specific occasion wasn’t actually the inaugural exchange between the boyfriend and my mom. It was probably the second or third, which is actually an integral detail to the story as “the event” was a direct result of a comment made during the prior visit.
It is probably important to note that the first boyfriend, let’s call him the FB (not to be confused with the common abbreviations for football and Facebook), was a self-proclaimed parents-schmoozer. He was quite confident of his ability to immediately win over a gal’s ‘rents with his politeness and charm. And sure, it was quite the lofty statement to make, but not even five minutes of hob-nobbing with my parental unit on that fall evening and it was clear, he could put his money where his mouth was. And just like me, they were smitten.
If it wasn’t clear by now, sarcasm and I basically best friends. We’re kind of attached at the hip. And while I know science would probably state otherwise, I’m pretty sure my case of sarcasm was a direct product of genetics. Yes, that’s right, I may be the Princess of Sass, but if that’s the case, then my mother is certainly the Queen. And no where was this better displayed than during one of the first encounters between mom and the FB, more specifically, as the two were saying their goodbyes. And while I have racked my brain for the exact details of how the situation played out, I must admit that to recount the tale, a bit of artistic license will have to come into play. Apparently even photographic memories have momentary lapses. Wow, was that ever a humble brag. Sorry.
Anyway, the story. The FB had come over to hang out. We were in that lovey-dovey-everything-is-brand-new-and-exciting-and-we-want-to-spend-every-waking-moment-together-that-isn’t-already-occupied-by-school-and-cheer-practice (that was me, he wasn’t a cheerleader, not that there is anything wrong with male spirit leaders) stage. So if our free time had to be shared with my parents, I didn’t mind. Like I said, my parents aren’t so bad, they are actually quite awesome. But I digress. We had spent the evening chatting, the FB schmoozed with the best of them, and I may be wrong, but I think there may have been a CSI episode involved, too.
As we were saying our goodbyes that night, my mom had a bit of a word vomit moment. While she stated that it was indeed lovely to spend time getting to know the FB, she also casually threw in a request. “Don’t come back unless you bring me a gift!” See what I mean with the sass?
“Mother!” I cried in my head (I think I cried it out loud, too) I mean, sometimes, I just didn’t know where she came up with this stuff. Obviously, she was kidding, but as I mouthed “I’m so sorry” to the FB as I pushed him out the door to save him from her momentary insanity, I couldn’t help but spot a twinkle in his eye and an accompanying smirk.
Fast-forward a week or so. I was en route back home from, you guessed it, cheer practice. I was just about ten minutes away when I received a phone call from my mom (this was pre-2009 and the “using a cell phone while driving is a no no” law).
“Hello?” I inquired.
“Hi, um, I just wanted to let you know that you have a visitor here,” she replied.
There was a quiver in her voice. Not a quiver induced from the realization of unfortunate news, but rather, a quiver that clearly displayed her quests to stifle sheer and utter excitement. My mother may be a lot of things, but a good actress she is not. And while I wasn’t exactly sure what to make of her warning that I would have a guest ready to greet me when I finally made it back to my childhood haven, I was excited nonetheless. A guest? On a weeknight? Who could it be?!
And as I turned the corner, the identity of the individual who was currently keeping my ‘rents company was quickly revealed. For there out in front of my house was the car belonging to the one and only FB.
What the what?! We hadn’t talked about hanging out tonight. In fact, I don’t think I had even talked to him yet that day. So despite my mother’s semi-warning call, I was still utterly shocked to open the garage door, step inside the family room and find my sweet boyfriend lounging on the couch, my mother beaming by his side and my father finishing up dinner in the kitchen.
“What am I interrupting here?” was the only thought on my mind as I threw down my backpack and greeted the FB with a hug.
“Hi guys!” I finally blurted out. My words escaped from my mouth with an inquisitive tone. But seriously, what was the FB doing hanging out with my parents without me? I know he said he was a parents whisperer, but really? Who was he dating? Them or me?
Before I could ask anything else, my mother finally spoke up, her excitement was visceral; a pot on high heat whose water had just boiled over. “Look what he brought me!” she cheered. And as she shouted, she pointed to the dining room table and to a vase filled with the most ornate bouquet of flowers that I had ever seen.
Well I’ll be darned. He had taken her sarcastic quip to heart. I looked at the flowers and then back at the FB. His face couldn’t help but to glow with self-assuredness. He was quite pleased with himself, and I gosh, how could I blame him? She had said that his next visit should warrant a present. So I suppose he was just following orders. And yes, I know he knew that she was merely being her sassy self and didn’t actually expect that they’re next meeting would result in the exchange of gifts, but the fact that he did it anyway was what really got her. Heck, it really got me, too.
And I kind of just remained speechless for the remainder of those twenty minutes that he continued to grace us with his presence. Instead of speaking, I simply observed –how he engaged my mother about the happenings of his week, his classes, and his aspirations for college. I knew it was premature to even think the things I was thinking, but I couldn’t help it. The way he effortlessly interacted with my family was intoxicating. They say that there’s nothing more kryptonite-esque than seeing a man interact with a baby or a puppy, but seeing a man win over your mother? Consider me D.O.A.
Sure, that bouquet probably only cost him $9.99 at Vons. But that’s not the point. Rather than be intimidated or worse, put-off by my mother’s sarcastic comment days before, he took it as an opportunity. The opportunity to not only gain my further adoration (don’t think he didn’t know he was killing two birds with one flower-adorned stone), but more importantly, to solidify his spot in my mother’s heart as a respectful, polite and generous boy, worthy of both dating her daughter, and of course, of earning him a spot on the “How I met (and won over) your Mother” hall of fame.
But that’s not to say that there haven’t been a few honorable mentions. And maybe that’s partly due to the fact that my mom is pretty much one of the most likable human beings on the planet. And I’d like to think the caliber of gents who make up my ex-boyfriend roster are more upstanding than the average bear. So with those combined, the whole “meeting (and treating) of my mother” thing hasn’t ever really been an issue.
The boyfriend to follow the FB was always sweet and polite as was the one after that, too. And the Pepperdine brigade (all two of them) were among my mother’s favorite –but maybe that’s because those two simply adored me more than most.
Which leads me into my next subject.
The way to a mother’s heart (hint: it’s not through her stomach, that’s Dad).
Let me let you in on a little secret. Besides maybe bringing her a bouquet of flowers (pssst, her favorite are lilies and Gerber daisies), the biggest thing you can do to get in my mother’s good graces (and stay there!) is to well, just really woo the pants off of me (well not literally, that would actually be the biggest (and fastest!) way to fall right out of those good graces). It’s quite simple math: a happy daughter equates to a happy momma. If you’re treating me well, making me laugh, reading my blog (it will earn you more points than you know), and (this is a big one, folks) calling me when you say you will and engaging me in activities that aren’t just limited to “hang out” sessions on your couch while we watch your favorite sports team play (not that there’s anything wrong with that, I love me some Sunday sports time –it gives me an excuse to yell things like “you’ve GOT to be kidding me” and the occasional expletive toward the television screen) but you know, it’s also really quite nice to be taken out every once in a while, nothing fancy, just something that required planning beforehand. So yes, if you do that, you’re pretty much golden.
But if you’ve ever worried about the eventual introduction with the matriarch herself, let me also include a few additional pointers (and I’d like to think that these tips will reach further than just my mother and onto all mother-kind).
Eye contact. Use it.
Handshake. No limp fishes, please. It should be firm, but not strong enough to break her hand (that almost happened once). Chances are you’re better off coming in for the…
Hug. No booty-out/pat on the back business. Come in for the real thing. It’s also a great opportunity for her to assess if you smell nice (see also: if you shower regularly). She has a nose like a hound dog so be sure to wear a nice cologne (Aqua di Gio is always a winner) or aftershave or at least deodorant.
Gifts. You may never quite take the FB’s reigning title, but that doesn’t mean you can’t earn yourself an honorable mention. A bottle of wine, treats for our dog (side note: she’s (the dog) basically my mother’s other daughter so showing the four-legged child some love will certainly earn you brownie points) or yes, even the old standby- a flower arrangement will all earn you favor in the head of household’s hazels.
Chat. I realize it’s difficult to overcome intimidation when it feels as though you’re walking into the lion’s den, but deep breaths and positive self-talk go a long way. As does sparkling conversation sprinkled with humility, honesty, and most definitely, humor. My parents are an extension of me, so converse with them accordingly. You know you had to use your gift of gab to win over me, so rightly so, you’ll have to employ it once more if you want a few more fans in your corner. Let your natural charm shine through. Just talk (preferably not with your mouth full). Answer Mom’s questions (I apologize in advance to how many my mother will ask you, she’s just an inquisitive gal), share interesting stories about your life (you have the right to embellish, but only a little. No one likes a liar), and don’t forget to compliment her on her cooking, her home décor, oh here’s a BIG one –her photography (her handiwork is splattered about the walls and framed on tables, dressers and in nooks). You can even compliment her ageless beauty –she’s obviously where I gleaned my stunning good looks –but watch the zeal of those praises; you don’t want to come across creepy. And while you’re into that whole showering with compliments stage, why not shoot a couple my way? [While looking at a picture of me hanging on the wall, (news flash there are five billion of them all over the house] “Wow, what a gorgeous photo of you!” [While admiring a framed piece of artwork from high school art class] “Are you serious?! You drew that?!” Stuff like that. And make sure she’s within ear shot; nothing wins over mom more than hearing her baby’s boyfriend express his admiration for her.
Bottom line, BE YOURSELF. Hey, I fell for you (and I’m quite a critic), she probably will, too.
Dear Every Boy I’ve Dated who Had the Pleasure of Meeting My Momma,
Thank you for being the perfect gentleman. I saw the way you laughed at her jokes and admired her home. She appreciated it, and so did I. And while your and my relationship may have not lasted the test of time, I will choose to think back on you with fond memories, if anything for the fact that you treated my mother how I only hope you treat your future wife.