Saturday, 1 September 2012

The weirdest guests ever

It was almost twenty years ago and my now ex-husband T* and I were engaged. He was chatting on the phone with a friend of his when the friend got a call from another high school classmate and drew her into the conversation on 3-way. T was not impressed as he remembered the classmate as someone who thrived on drama and created it wherever she went. By the end of the call he'd decided the classmate had changed and exchanged phone numbers with her. Over the course of several months they chatted back and forth and eventually we decided to get together for a visit. Her kids were living one town over from us with her parents and she and her boyfriend visited them every weekend. They could come over for lunch... tomorrow.

This was back in the early 90's when internet was dial-up and rare and cellphones were as big as cordless phones and equally as rare. They didn't know where we lived and Google Maps and GPS devices weren't options. We settled on having them call us once they reached her parents' house to get further directions and to give us a head's up they were on their way.

T rolled out of bed the following morning, walked to the window and announced "they're here". I laughed and told him to quit joking. He ran to the closet and pulled on the first pair of pants he found (thankfully his) then said "I'm not kidding. They're walking across the street right now. I'll try to stall them so you have time to get dressed." And off he ran, pulling on his shirt as he barrelled across the living room and down the stairs.

I jumped out of bed and looked around in a panic. I was in my pjs with messy hair and unbrushed teeth, the bed was unmade, I had nothing ready, food-wise, at all. Of course it was only 8:30am and they were supposed to be coming for lunch. I pulled up the sheets and got myself presentable as quickly as possible. Finished brushing my teeth as they were walking up the stairs.

T's friend announced she was tired and needed coffee then made a beeline for the kitchen. The little girl raced right to the bookcase and started throwing books around the living room. The little boy ran for the furniture, where he alternated between trying to poke holes in the fabric so he could rip the stuffing out and jumping off the back of a chair, narrowly missing the coffee table. The boyfriend glanced around then scoffed, "This is it? Where's the rest of your apartment?" then started detailing how much bigger and better their place was.

T's friend wandered into the living room. She was wearing spandex pants and a ratty t-shirt with a huge hole over the nipple... and no bra. I spent our whole conversation alternating between staring at her feet and the wall behind her. She was heartbroken she hadn't gotten us a wedding present but was great at doing nails and had all sorts of colours and rhinestones that she could use. Wouldn't it be so cool? We'd have matching nails.

Before I could answer, the little boy announced that his sister had peed on one of our cushions... that she'd placed on a stack of my books. I raced to grab the books and asked the parents to deal with their little angels. The Mom immediately remembered that her coffee wasn't finished yet and scuttled off to the kitchen. Her boyfriend informed me it was his meditation time, then proceeded to sit cross legged in the corner with his fingers beside his head and hum loudly. Both kids were screaming by this time and jumping off any furniture they could find onto yet more of my books.

I grabbed every book and shoved them into my room then announced I was making lunch. It was 9am. I'd had some ideas for lunch but those plans had revolved around me getting up and cooking for a few hours before our guests arrived. And, by this time, I didn't want them in our house any longer than necessary. I hauled two cans of soup out of the cupboard and chucked them in a pot then tossed together a salad. It didn't seem like much of a meal so I pulled out one of those microwavable powdered sauce and cake mixes. Then I called Mr Meditation and kids into the kitchen to eat.

While I was childless at the time, I wasn't an idiot, and I'd placed the kids half full bowls of soup in the freezer to cool. The boyfriend walked in and immediately started complaining. He never bought canned foods, he made everything from scratch. He had at least twice as many spices as us and couldn't imagine cooking with that few. And our storage space, or lack thereof, he had no idea how we could function with so little space.

As I placed the bowls on the table, the boyfriend started telling us about how he'd been badly abused as a child and this had left him super macho and totally impervious to pain. Just then I put the girl's tepid bowl of soup in front of him, he knocked it onto his lap and immediately started screaming about the pain and how badly it was burning him. Thankfully he shut up when I told him the bowl had been in the freezer for the past five minutes and the soup was almost cold. T was obviously trying to stifle laughter by this point.

The soup was finished fairly quickly and I started making dessert. Once again the boyfriend complained. His desserts were all (of course) from scratch and he hated packaged desserts. He hated it so much he inhaled his helping then took seconds before T and I had a chance to get our first serving, finishing the bowl.

T saved the day. He hated to be rude but we'd been invited to a (nonspecific) family function and we needed to leave now. It was great seeing them and, oops, don't forget your purse or your son. We'd finished lunch and had them out the door before 10am.

That was the last time we ever spoke to them. Heartbreaking, I know. I'm sure she would have decorated my nails up really fancy for my big day too. Pink and purple leopard spots with rhinestones or something equally tasteful. It would have been a memory to remember.

*T has nothing to do with my ex-husband's name. It's just the key I jabbed while picking an initial.