Thursday, June 21, 2012

First Impression

This post originally appeared on my previous blog March 8, 2012

This excerpt was inspired by Mama's Losin' It weekly writing prompt.

Describe what it was like meeting your in-laws for the first time?

This excerpt is a continuation of Carly's story. While I did meet my in-laws unexpectedly at a high school wrestling game dressed like a Reality Bites cast member, the outcome was not nearly as comical as Carly's. My mama always says, "Write what you know." So I wrote a little of what I knew and some of what I made up. Taking another piece of advice from my mama, "Use your imagination."

Enjoy! As always comments and critiques are valued and welcome!

In retrospect, I should been more concerned about meeting David’s parents. But what does a 17 year old really know about first impressions? To a teenager, every day is a fresh start. Another 24- hour period to re-imagine life, get into a bit of trouble, go to bed and wake up unconcerned with what happened the day before. Too bad we can’t stay seventeen forever.

But, in retrospect, David was 24 when he and I were dating. Please, no lectures. At the time it was cool, but if Devon brought home a grown man to our house when she was barely legal there would be a lot of hypocrisy involved in that conversation. I am digressing. This is about me and about David. More importantly this is about Pam and Doug.

David should have realized that first impressions matter. That I would be forever trying to auto-correct every little bit of my appearance from that first night for the next 15 years. 1995. Kurt Kobain had been dead two years, but I was still trying to resurrect the Nirvana-style dressed in multi-tonal green flannel, a black lacy tank top for a bit of sexiness, tattered and ripped jeans with crappy K-Swiss tennis shoes. This was my laid-back, way-too-cool-for-you style. An appropriate style for the high school wrestling meet. Completely disgusting for meeting my boyfriend’s parents.

“Are you dense?” I grabbed David by the arm, dragging him to the side of the bleachers after he waved his mom and dad over to where I thought we were just hanging out. Apparently, we were waiting.

David shook me off. “What’s your damage?”

I pointed my finger in his face. Ah, the beginnings of our dysfunction. “Don’t quote me Heathers. How could you not tell me?”

“What, Carly?” Placing both hands on my shoulders he danced me around so that he could face the gymnasium floor, completely unaware of my shock and more interested in the wrestling match.
“Look at me!” My voice was squealing, wanting to scream and lash out while still appearing in control. “Look at them.”

Pam and Doug were slowly approaching. He in his work clothes, a black, short-sleeved shirt with his name stitched on the left pockets, the small white triangle of his undershirt at the chest, pressed-black pants, black work boots. His mom was wearing a plain red turtleneck with a small gold chain around her neck, black polyester slacks and black moccasins. They were both carrying seat cushions to make the bleachers more bearable. I hoped they wouldn’t use them as weapons of suffocation when they realized that the slob standing by their son was his girlfriend - emphasis on girl.

“You’re overreacting. Besides this is my brother’s match. Why is it a surprise they are here?”
I didn’t have time to respond. The parents had snuck up behind me, closed in on us like we were prey. Pam and Doug smiled, unaware of the flannel head-case and my tendency to over dramatize.

“Who’s this?” Doug chuckled, playfully punching David on his on the bicep. “An unhappy cheerleader?” Ah, my first experience with Doug’s sense of humor.

David motioned for me to step closer. Shuffling my feet, I moved slowly towards him to complete the circle; me, David and the parents. That is when it happened. A toddler, in the bleachers above us started to pitch a fit. Feet stomping, tears forming, clearly upset about something. His hands flailed about frenziedly, sending the soda can in his Dad’s hands over the side of the bleachers.

The can connected to my temple as David began to introduce me. There were bright colors, sweaty gymnasium odors, hollow voices. The colors faded, my knees were buttery. As the colors faded to black I felt peaceful, all was right again with the world.

Apparently, while crumbling to the floor I muttered, “Thank you.”

“What was that all about?” David asked later that evening while we were discharging from the ER.
I can’t exactly say, but I would bet I was thanking that toddler for giving me a chance to avoid meeting the parents for the first time.

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