Although the first guy that met my parents had an earring and told me my dog was ugly, someone a few dates down the road topped that by showing up in bare feet. The bare-feet thing wasn’t personal, he just never wore shoes. Ever. How could he get away with the no-shoes policy at work you ask? Well, when your occupation of choice is delivering pizzas on a skateboard, it allows more personal freedoms than your average job.
When you meet the parents of someone that you really care about, you of course want to make the best impression possible. You want them to like you, and you want to fit in. It’s a kind of acceptance that you haven’t needed since you tried to fit in with the “cool kids” in high school.
I recently met the parents of a guy that I wanted nothing more than to impress. Usually a “Chatty Cathy,” I suddenly couldn’t think of anything to say, and long gaps of awkward silence ensued as I looked desperately around their house, trying to think of something to ask them about. Although my black cocktail dress was conservative, it wasn’t exactly the nun outfit that I’d been shopping for. I’d never before been so worried about things like sitting with my knees together in the dress, using coasters, and finding the proper tenses for my verbs.
I worried about these things because I was meeting the parents of someone that I really cared about, and I wanted to make a good impression. Did the guy with the earring not care about me and impressing my parents enough to remove the earring for the night and speak kindly of my dog? Did the guy in bare feet not care enough to put on shoes for the occasion?
As far as my friends and I know, after college, meeting someone’s parents means that they’re really serious about you. It’s kind of like the final callbacks when auditioning for a dance job. If you pass this audition, you’re in. Knowing this can put a lot of pressure on your performance to get your high kicks right. Maybe the guys that didn’t perform their best didn’t care that much about getting the gig. Maybe we each had different gigs in mind.
They say everything turns out the way it’s supposed to, and maybe they’re right. This many years later, the guy with the earring is still living in the hometown I fought so hard to escape and probably has nothing in common with the “me” that I’ve become. I soon discovered that the guy that refused to wear shoes slept in a pop-up tent in his bedroom and didn’t own a bed. Even in my youth I could see that he had nothing in common with the “me” that I wanted to become.
Just as every girl deserves a guy that puts his best foot forward at the important moments in life, she needs to be the one that does her best high kick at every audition. In my experience, you may need to go to a lot of auditions, but someday you’ll land your perfect gig. As for me, I’m sure that gig will not involve someone who wears more jewelry than I do, it will involve a man that loves to wear shoes, and it will be a guy that only uses a pop-up tent outside. Maybe I like to dream big, but I firmly believe that such a gig exists.