Years ago, my husband and I lived in a different state from his old roommate, “Lorne.” Lorne and his wife, “Karen,” had a toddler son (“Andy”) at this time. We corresponded from time to time via phone and letter (this was in the days before cell phones and the Internet). Of course, sprinkled into our correspondence was the occasional “we really must get together sometime.” We meant it, of course, but we also wanted to plan for it. They had other ideas. We had visited them at their home once, and had discussed inviting them to see us but hadn’t actually done it yet, as we were both working new jobs and had just moved into our apartment and weren’t completely unpacked.
So along comes Memorial Day weekend. We made plans to go out on a neighbor’s boat on Memorial Day; the rest of the weekend was to be pretty much devoted to just sort of hanging out together (we were newlyweds at the time). We didn’t have anything really planned except for the boat trip, but we were also not prepared for Lorne’s phone call on the Thursday before that weekend, announcing that he and Karen and Andy were coming to see us for Memorial Day weekend! We tried to tell them that we weren’t prepared for company, but they actually got offended that we didn’t express delight at their impending visit. So—they came.
First thing that happened was Andy met our cat, “Milly.” Milly had never seen a small child, and Andy had never seen a cat, so for a moment they just stared at one another, and then suddenly Andy started screaming. Milly ran and hid and we didn’t see her for the rest of the weekend. Lorne was angry at us for failing to tell them we had a cat—how dare we let our baby frighten his child!
Because we didn’t have a lot of advance notice of their coming, we hadn’t really planned meals or activities or anything, but we did the best we could. Lorne complained about everything—he didn’t like that we didn’t have a guest room (we lived in a two-bedroom apartment, and one bedroom was basically an office). We didn’t have the kind of soda he liked to drink. On and on. Karen was paranoid about Andy—if he wasn’t directly in her line of sight, she panicked. Of course, Andy being a two-year-old, he was all over the map, and nothing untoward happened to him, but Karen just worried constantly. Oh, and lest I forget, our home was not child-proofed, so we got to hear about that as well.
We went out to dinner the night they arrived. When we entered the restaurant, the hostess smiled at us and said what hostesses have been saying forever: “Four and a half?” (referring to Andy). Karen snapped, “He’s not half a person, he’s a whole person! I hate when people do that!” The hostess, embarrassed, apologized and led us to a table. Karen felt the need to continue her rant about “half.” I get it, but seriously!
Karen and I did a little grocery shopping together the next day while the guys hung out and caught up. Naturally, Andy went with us, which was an experience for me as I didn’t have kids yet. I was not prepared for having to corral a toddler in the supermarket, but Karen refused to put him in the cart (“they’re dirty”) and she wouldn’t carry him because he was too big. I’m thinking she probably could have held his hand, but what did I know?
Anyway, we made the best of the weekend, and actually had a good time because we do like Lorne and Karen; we just weren’t prepared for a drop-in visit. We played some games and spent some time at the pool, etc. On Sunday, I suggested that we get some burgers and hot dogs, and go to the lake and cook out. That’s when it all went south. Lorne’s response to my suggestion? “Hot dogs. You guys got steak.”
True. When we went to visit them, at their invitation, we did eat steak that Lorne cooked on the grill. So what? How is that relevant? So I said to him, “First of all, we can’t afford steak. I’m sorry, but we can’t. Second of all, we were invited to your house. You guys just called and announced that you were coming. So, no, we don’t have steak. If you don’t want to eat burgers and dogs, just say so and we’ll find something else to do.” Or words to that effect. That irritated him, but we went ahead with the picnic and had a good time.
They left early on Monday morning, and we were still able to go to the lake with our friends. We still exchange Christmas cards with Lorne and Karen, but we haven’t actually laid eyes on them in ages. And have I mentioned that not once did they thank us for having them? Maybe that was because of my own rudeness about the steak, but who does stuff like this??? 0108-14
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