Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Meet The Family-- Or Not

Never bring a guy home to meet your family unless you are sure he can't live without you.

When I was 19, I took those words to heart.  It was the last time I'd brought a guy home to meet my family-- That is until I was brave enough, at age 34, to give it another try. If you'd met my family, you'd understand why.

First, we're a very big and very loud crowd.  And, we travel in a pack-- If you see one of us, you see all of us! We're everywhere and there's no hiding from us unless you're in the bathroom-- with the door locked.

Second, my folks are very protective so a guy is guaranteed to get the "What are your intentions?" speech within 30 minutes of meeting.  If he answers wrong, he'll get the "evil eye" for the rest of the visit.

And third, my four siblings are a tough crowd.... Not for the guy-- For me!  They will share every humiliating, embarrassing, disgusting and unflattering story about me starting the moment he walks in the room.  It can get ugly, but I've done it to all of them too, and well, paybacks are a bitch.

I learned my lesson early in life and kept my boyfriends to myself for years.  But after dating my now husband for five years, (we had a long courtship!) I finally caved to the pressure and brought him home for a family wedding. Believe me, I was taking a serious risk and braced myself for the inevitable trashing I would get.  Of course I tried to warn my sweetie of what was in store but he thought I was exaggerating. Ha!

We arrived at the Cleveland Airport to a gaggle of family waiting at the gate.  They were getting a head start on my "If we didn't love you, we wouldn't tease you." torture, so I tried to fain exhaustion and head straight for the hotel, but no luck.  When we arrived at my folk's house, the rest of the family was waiting. The stories began immediately and I could see my sweetie's head starting to spin.  I got us out of there as soon as humanly possible.

The next day was the wedding rehearsal dinner at my folk's house.  They were hosting a big bar-be-que and all available hands were put to work to help pull things together. As I peeled an enormous quantity of potatoes , I realized it had been a long time since I'd seen my guy.  I made a quick run around the house but he was no where to be found. Hmmm.  Had he run off already?

Mom saw me searching and casually mentioned my boyfriend asked if he could help, so she sent him to the back yard to shuck a wheel barrel full of sweet corn. Huh?  My boyfriend?  Corn shucking?  In the yard?  Holy crap!  This was not good.

For starters, "shucking" is the same as "husking" for those of you who don't know.  My beloved is not a husker, or shucker, by any stretch of the imagination. And if you've ever been within a mile of a wheel barrel full of sweet corn, you know it's swarming with BEES! He hates bees more than I hate fried liver and onions.  

Oh!  My!  Gawd!

I dashed to the kitchen window and saw my worst nightmare. The poor guy was standing by the wheel barrel, knee deep in corn husks, swatting bees like a wild man, and giving himself a good talking to.  I can only image what he was saying but I'm pretty sure it was something about his soon to be ex-girlfriend's crazy, corn eating family.  I was certain he was about to go running and screaming down the street never to be seen again.  

After a long sigh and a short prayer, I headed outside to the bee zone and offered my assistance.  So far, he had not been stung, but I could tell his chances were dwindling. With my cheeriest voice and biggest smile, I batted my eyelashes and told him what a great job he had done and that I'd take over for him.  Mind you, it was the sorriest mess of corn shucking I'd ever seen, but I kept that to myself. 

Do you think he took me up on my offer?   Oh no, no, no! My City Slicker was not budging until all the corn was cleaned.  Do you know how much corn a whole wheel barrel holds?  Picture a small mountain of the stuff!  Suddenly the guy was a Country Boy on a mission, and that mission was to master corn shucking-- before he died of multiple bee stings.

Many ears of corn later, the job was finished and my boyfriend was still in tack, although I was not so sure about our relationship.  

That night, as we toasted the bride and groom to be, I watched my guy and wondered what could possibly be going through his head.  After all our years together, I should note, we had never once discussed marriage.  Not ever.  But here were were, celebrating a wedding, with my big, loud family all asking probing questions about our future together.

He played it cool, and in actuality, was a real trooper, all things considered.  But I knew something he didn't and that something was the "Chicken Dance" that was in his future.  I still roll my eyes at the very thought of it.

The next day was the wedding, which was a hundred times louder than just my immediate 30 family members.  My guy shook hands with Uncles, got wet kisses from my Aunts, chased my little nieces, nephews and cousins, and did all the usual stuff one must endure when you're the "new guy" dating the "old maid" of the family.  (I was 34 at the time and the only single, female relative, for miles.)

At the reception, he learned a few family rituals that he probably could have lived without knowing-- Like dinner conversation that always leads to discussions about arm pits, boogers and beer belching.  And then the music started....  Here we go!

Directly after the bridal dance came the Hookie Pookie. There was no way I was missing the Hookie Pookie so he joined me-- reluctantly.  Then there were a couple of country western line dances that we sat out, followed by-- The Chicken Dance.  Have you ever done it?  I have, a million times, and with a big crowd, it's a blast.  But my guy had never heard of it and wasn't the least bit interested in learning how to dance like a chicken.  He headed straight for the bar and would have walked into a hornet's nest if it meant he didn't have to do the dance.

Ahh the moment of truth.  My boyfriend survived corn shucking, swarming bees, marriage hints, and all my Aunties wet kisses-- But the Chicken Dance--  Maybe not. It looked like a deal breaker for him.  

My nieces pulled me onto the dance floor and away we went.  As you may know, the Chicken Dance goes on and on, starting slow, then builds its way up to a maddening, hysterical pace.  About half way through the craziness, my sweet guy tapped me on the shoulder to join in.

Over the blaring music and the screams of laughter, when my guy did the Chicken Dance, I swear I could hear the angels singing.  He really couldn't live without me!  

I'm pretty sure that dance sealed the deal for our future. Although he would never admit to ever having done the dance in the first place.  It's our secret-- his, mine, my big, loud family-- And the home video as evidence.

Exactly one year later, we were married.

How do you feel about "meeting the parents"?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor  -  Joanna


  1. LOL Best story ever! Your family sounds like the most fun!

  2. This is a great story. I could picture the whole thing.

  3. Oh, Joanna! This is perfect timing for me--I'm bringing my new (and final, God willing) man back east tomorrow for my daughter's wedding celebration. He'll be meeting my entire family (including my first ex-husband and my ex mother-in-law), so if I'm single again next week, you'll know why.

    Great post! Your blog is wonderful!

  4. I had no clue we were related. I have a photo of my Mom forcing my (now) husband to do the chicken dance the first year we were together.

  5. Joanna,
    That is such an adorable story - a big noisy family, corn shucking and chicken dancing and he obviously loved you LOTS ! I want to meet someone willing to brave anything for me too :)

  6. That is the sweetest story. What a guy! He braved bee stings, slobbery aunts, screaming nieces and nephews and the Chicken Dance, all for you! I'd say he passed with flying colors.
    Is his family just as colorful as yours?

    I wish I could've met Boo's parents. But they both passed away before we got together. His brothers and their families are adorable, though.

  7. Fantastic story. After that you both could survive anything. And I personally love the chicken dance. It sounds like you anotonly have a wonderful partner but a wonderful family as well.

  8. What a great guy you landed, Joanna! Your family sounds wonderful too.
    Great post!


  9. Another good story mate!
    How did I feel about meeting the parents? AWFUL!!!
    When I met STew I had recently (7 months prior) left my first husband. I had 4 small children. They hated the idea of their PRECIOUS son getting TANGLED up with a solo mother with 4 kids! THEY tried to get him to go overseas and leave me behind... but it didn't work! Luckily. We have now been together for 24 years... and his parents learnt to love me. It wasn't hard, I'M SURE!!! ha ha ha .

  10. Oh and I love the chicken dance too! It's hysterical.

  11. I love this and I can tell I would love your family. They sound a lot like mine!

  12. You need to go to one of those websites where you can turn your blog into a book. You'd have a best seller!

    About meeting the parents?? I had a hard enough time just meeting my OWN parents!!

  13. Snarky Sister,
    Not such a secret anymore now that you told the entire Blog Land the Chicken secret...

    By the time My Lion and I had found each other, my parents were long gone from this life, so he didn't have to rum the gauntlet...

    But, he asked my brother's permission to marry me, and he waited to get down on one knee and shock me and the entire 30 of us when we were back home for the Christmas Holidays the year he asked me to be his Mrs.

    That was a wonderful, wonderful moment.

    The first Michael walked up to him and shook his hand, saying, "That was so much better and more exciting than the way I proposed, Hol!"

    And, this Michael shook his hand and said, "Doog, we all get smarter when we have a do-over!" They laughed with each other about that.

    I love La Familia!!!

  14. OMG!, I think you & I and our husbands must be related!!
    I was seriously laughing out loud at that story and dabbing tears.
    While my relatives are the rednecks that would've been talking about arm-pits, boogers & beer belches, it was my husband that introduced ME to the chicken-dance.
    True love!

  15. Totally Hilarious and can relate our family is the same way.. the loudest gets heard! The men don't stand a chance up against my mom major flirter she is and then they get can almost see the brite light in their eyes. Great Story and thanks for sharing.

  16. You knew he was a keeper from the start....he just had to prove it to you.

    Fun, fun post.

  17. Another great story...the chicken dance test!

  18. What's not to love about a guy who does the Chicken Dance!? Thanks for the smiles.

  19. As I was reading through your wonderful story my attention was drawn to the message in your sidebar about your having lupus. It is fantastic what your "little" friends at doing in terms of the race this fall. One of the most special people in my life was affected by lupus. I only wish their was more money for funding.

    Off to learn more through your link. Thank you!


  20. Oh my. Corn shucking? Bee stings? He was smitten for sure! Sounds like he still is!

  21. Chicken dance? Wheelbarrows full of corn? C'mon, you've GOT to tell me where you're from; it's probably just around the corner from my old house! And where the heck is your hubby from that he'd never even heard of the Chicken Dance??

    [Wanders off, humming the Chicken Dance music to herself...duh duh duhduhduhduhduh...] Bawk, bawk!

  22. For my husband (older, divorced with two kids, meeting the Catholic family members at a wedding, yikes) - it was the polka. He danced so well, my aunts stood around the dance floor in awe. And voted him in the family on the spot.

    And also? The Chicken Dance? My family makes the new guy of the moment wear a chicken suit to dance the Chicken Dance. No joke. No suit? No vote!

  23. Corn, bees and the chicken dance is bound to reel 'em in everytime....

  24. Hahahaha! I have the BIG family too...know exactly what you are talking about. My husband met my family at a reunion...about 80 people...his name sticker said, "I'm with Sara"

    Love the story, sounds like your honey is a keeper...shucking corn and chicken dancing...what a guy: )

  25. I didn't have to meet my husband's parents because they had already passed when we began dating. but I did meet all his siblings (4 brothers, 1 princess... I mean sister) at his grandmother's wake!

    Are you from PA, by chance? Northeastern PA or central?

  26. I kept thinking you were talking about my family! :)
    And the movie "My big fat Greek wedding". Must have been hilarious!

  27. Joanna, that chicken dance sounds like outrageous fun and I think it should be the new standard in determining who will make a good life partner. I loved that (now hubby) joined you on the chicken-dance floor! And I love that you chicken-danced right in front of him without any sense of 'what will he think of me'.

  28. This is just too great! It sounds like some of my family reunions. Your hubby deserves a halo.


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