I have been away from blogging because we had a busy weekend. We had a 1 year party for my little guy. That means dealing with the in laws. Honestly, they are a great family, but they are cut from an entirely different cloth than my “get drunk and let everyone know what you think about them” relatives. They communicate in a waspy code I haven’t yet been able to decipher. They tiptoe around making seemingly mild statements. I later learn that these gentle musings are packed with layers of meaning. For instance, my mother-in-law will say innocuously, “The baby is getting so good at walking.” I later learn from my wife that translates to, “Your son is not wearing appropriate shoes. And why not? Because you don’t have a job and can’t afford them. I know you want to stay home with the baby, but I want a straight daughter. Looks like nobody is going to get what they want.”
I have a hard time navigating this world. I should have paid better attention in English Lit when we were reading Edith Wharton. Part of the reason I have a hard time is that I don’t know when to shut up. And there are a whole host of things that shouldn’t be talked about. My wife forgets that I don’t speak Wasp, and forgets to warn me not to talk about certain things. For instance, law school. Apparently, we were supposed to keep my law school attendance a secret until I graduated. Boy, wouldn’t they have been surprise.
Another secret? Chili. My wife and I love my chili. I was brought up in the Southwest, and I can make a bowl of chili. But my father in law has a recipe as well. Its heart healthy, and doesn’t taste at all like it should. I’m sorry, but if there is no bacon grease or beef, you don’t have chili. You have some sort of northeastern bean stew. So when I was talking to my mother in law about the party, she asked me what we were serving.
“Cold cuts,” I said, “oh, and chili.”
“We can bring the chili,” she said.
“That’s ok. We can make it here.”
“Everybody loves Warren’s chili.”
And I knew I had lost.
“Why did you tell her we were having chili?” my wife asked.
“I didn’t know it was a secret.”
“Now we have to have their chili.”
“I just want to be able to talk to them honestly. You know, tell them we prefer our chili.”
“Sorry, it’s complicated.” Translation: “My mother wants a straight daughter, and she’s not going to get that any more than you are going to get to eat your own chili. Looks like nobody is going to get what they want.”