I sat down to write a post about the difficulties of marrying into another family, especially into one of a different culture, and the challenges of taking them on as your own. I had such good intentions. And then I realised…I was all profounded out. After the post-wedding vows to Mr K of last week, followed by the team’s “the summer that made me, me” (here, here and here) over at A Safe Mooring, and finally thoughts on being married over at Rock My Wedding…I have no more philosophy, no Deep Thoughts. Sorry folks, I’m all out.
I have only A MORTIFYING STORY.
Which are always my favourite stories to read. When written by other people.
It was New Year, 2005. I was in Brussels, for my first extended trip to visit the in-laws, downing vast quantities of red wine day after day in an attempt to make my French sound legible, and eating a lot of cheese when I realised that despite my degree I’d forgotten most of it. Bof.
I met his mother. It’s never an easy one, this. Legend has it that you’ll never live up to the standards she wants for the apple of her eye. You’ll only be a poor substitute for good motherly love. You won’t make a home for him the way she could, you couldn’t ever take care of him when he gets sick like she could, and you have your filthy British hands in places that are not befitting for her pride and joy.
So I was primed. I’m good with parents, you see – I have the demure-yet-interesting routine hands down. I prepared Interesting Yet Educational topics to bring up, parent-friendly anecdotes about Mr K to recount, had the what-are-my-intentions spiel down pat.
What I didn’t know, was that I would meet her in a jacuzzi.
I only wish I were joking. When you have a conversation as awkward as the potential-future-mother-in-law one, you really, and I repeat really, do not want to be in your bikini when you have it. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to look even remotely demure and responsible in a bikini surrounded by swirling bubbles, with your hair plastered to your head and a menacing flush to your cheeks, and you look like a an slightly-overweight porn star propped up in a hot tub and all you’re thinking is “God, if you are up there, please do not let my left boob fall out”. Do you?
Just before my gommage (full body scrub, but you know, I just prefer to say gommage), the (beautiful) assistant told me, in rapid-fire French, to get naked, put the thing on in that small packet over there, and lie face-down on the bed. She then exited the room. Now, if I could have flipped through a pocket dictionary, I would have. But I didn’t have one. Why? Because I wasn’t expecting to have to conjugate the verb “to strip off”. So…I didn’t understand everything she said. Well, actually, the only word I did understand was “lie down“.
Now I demurely de-robed, obviously holding my swimwear in front of me like a good British girl, and took out the item of clothing from its plastic wrapping. What lay in my hand was a string, with a bit of plastic attached. For the life of me, I could not figure out if it was a headband or a thong. I started panicking. Was one supposed to hold ones hair back during a scrub? Or hair down, but actually wear something around your nether regions? If I got this wrong, the (beautiful) assistant was sure to dine out for weeks to come with stories of the anglaise who wore a hairband round her crotch, or worse, greeted her naked with a thong in her hair.
I took a chance. Guess which way I wore it.
I GOT IT WRONG.
Flawless French-speaking assistant walks in, takes one look at me with a thong on my head and calls for her colleagues. To witness my predicament.
I was ridiculed. And pointed at. I do not use the phrase “I wanted the ground to swallow me up” lightly. But what could I do? It wasn’t like I was going to stand up.
And I still had to have the damn gommage.
PS – after this I met my future mother-in-law. And, it was fine. Seriously, after the “thong-or-hairband?” incident? It was NOTHING. Way to put your problems in perspective.