Yesterday (Tuesday) felt packed to the gills. I worked lunch at Michael’s. I was fortunate to get a long-time VIP. He was sitting with another regular customer of more recent vintage (the AAA guy). ‘Hey, I didn’t know you guys knew each other,’ I said. We discussed how long each had been a fixture at Michael’s, but they didn’t divulge to me how or how long they knew each other.
AAA guy bears some mention. He’s not in the Rainmaker category, but he’s the kind of guy you’re always are happy to see in your station. He doesn’t drink, but he orders off the more-expensive dinner menu – and this usually encourages his guests to do the same. He also always orders an additional full meal to go, with dessert. And finally, he tips 20%.
Some wine was drunk, though AAA guy stuck with his Arnold Palmer. Towards the end AAA guy told me to put a $300 gift certificate on the tab before I brought the check. Surprisingly, it was the VIP, not AAA guy who accepted the check, $700+. I got $100 from him.
I was home in no time, with perfect traffic. I relaxed in bed just long enough to fall asleep for about five minutes, and that was fine. Arrangements were underway for Buddy Miner (remember him?) to come over for dinner, leading to an excursion to the local vintage theater (recently renovated) to see The Wrestler. Buddy had recently found a misplaced six pack of 2002 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red, so he brought one of those. It was amazing with our shrimp pasta. Check the link for an interesting review of Austin Wine Guy’s 5-wine Pahlmeyer dinner.
We found an amazing parking spot for the theater. It was bustling. We were happy to see this local place doing some business.
Oops! Turns out the movie was cancelled that night. There was a crowd because a local councilwoman was having a community event and had taken over the theater.
We have some Screeners courtesy of my brother in the film industry, so there was talk of going home to watch The Reader. Ultimately we decided we were already on a night out, so we found something else, Last Chance Harvey, at another theater. That show was about an hour later, so we stopped and had a drink. I had a Tanqueray 10 martini.
Last Chance Harvey was just about OK. Not good. Not really bad. Perfunctory love story between people with seemingly no options left. The problem was you didn’t get any real chemistry between Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson. You never even saw them French kiss, much less make love. I believe that stuff was shot, but it probably just ‘didn’t work.’
We dropped off Buddy and continued on to have another drink. There was much to talk about.
I mentioned briefly about the in-laws visiting. Let me go a little more in depth. Due to the original purchase terms of our house, my parents are part owners. At the time, they signed on to pay the 2nd mortgage and live in the downstairs bedroom for two years. It came out to around 24% stake. When two years were up, we appraised the house. Son-of-a-gun if the place hadn’t appreciated tremendously – like $200,000. Remember those times? That was the end of our agreement, so we kind of locked in their equity right there. It came to about $50k. We didn’t have the money to pay them, but that was okay – these were the go-go days. Meantime, my parents (who had been more or less splitting their time between here and Michigan) elected to keep hold of that room for when they visited, and paid us rent. The rent thing went in and out of effect. Mostly I didn’t want to charge them, but on a couple occasions we had to contemplate renting that room to make our nut. That’s when they paid. They did so 12 or 15 months.
This year, as usual, they came around Thanksgiving and set up shop. Around the same time, the wife got a call from her Dad, Phineas (coincidentally, also from Michigan).
‘Great news! We’re coming to visit!’
‘Great! When? And how long are you staying,’ my wife said.
‘Well, we’ll be there for Christmas. And we’re staying until April.’
The wife explained that would be difficult, told them the story about my parents, and that they will already be here.
‘Oh, that’s okay. We’ll be down in San Diego with Dotty (another daughter, with a one-bedroom apartment) quite a bit. We’ll be back and forth,’ he said.
He steamrolled it. This clearly was wrong on many levels. Even with the split time with Dotty, that’s still an F’ of a long stay. And these people are not easy to begin with. And, my wife feels exactly the same, so it’s not just ’cause they’re not my parents.
I started polling people at random about our situation. Turns out, no one has ever had, or ever heard of someone having, both sets of in-laws at the same time. It just isn’t done. The indignity of it is that it was Phineas and Adele who forced themselves on us.
It is bad taken merely at that. But these are also difficult people. They are both retired, and they’re both more like grandparents than regular parents. They have nothing to do, and all day to do it. They just want to talk.
Is that so hard? No, not for a week or so. Good to spend time with the folks, establish a rapport, build some history. But people with jobs and a crushing mortgage, and lots of other things they like to do, not to mention friends – you don’t really have 3-4 hours a day to set aside for this. And I’m not joking about 3-4 hours. The day starts (for us) with a pot of coffee, perhaps the newspaper or email . . . And they’re already up, waiting at the table downstairs, ready to talk. And boy can they talk after a full night’s rest and some coffee in them! There goes about an hour, before we gratefully leave for work. Coming home around 3 or 4 p.m., they’re waiting again. This session is limited to an hour or so if we are both working doubles. If it’s not – uh-oh. Then getting home at 11 p.m. sets up the Big Session. They’ve accommodatingly adjusted their schedule (mostly Phineas, actually) to go to bed later so they can enjoy more time with us. This is the 2-3 hour Big Session. The Big Session is typically Phineas goading his daughter (the wife) into playing solitaire while he watches, ‘helps,’ and comments on everything.
What do Phineas and Adele talk about? Mostly about food. What they’ve having later, what they already had, where we would like to eat with them, meals they’ve eaten, meals they’ve prepared. Aside from that, Phineas likes to uncork homespun nuggets of wisdom about life in general. He has few that are not completely trite and extremely time-worn. Actually, he has few in general, tending to repeat himself whenever the unbearable silence stretches out past 2 or 3 seconds. Adele is actually worse. She’s very unintelligent, the kind of person who latches onto a factoid she’s heard and invariably misunderstands it. Then she compounds her stupidity by using her misunderstood factoid to extrapolate new theories – themselves equally half-baked.
Their coffee maker was malfunctioning (yes, they brought their own coffee maker), as in, the coffee didn’t brew – the water came through the machine into the carafe hot but still clear. Her proposed solution was to figure out how to reprogram the clock. I asked why she thought that would affect the actual brewing of the coffee? She said that it worked fine when the clock was set correctly, but it had since become unplugged, which had reset the clock. I told her I didn’t think that was the problem and I would look at it. She told me not to bother, she would find the manual and try to fix it herself. Or else she’d take it to San Diego and have Dotty’s boyfriend take a shot at it – after all, he was the one who set the clock properly in the first place.
Meantime, my parents hadn’t really been behaving all that maturely themselves. After about a week of Phineas and Adele, they became sullen, pouting, unresponsive. They mostly stayed in their room unless absolutely necessary. My step-dad would sit out on the couch with his computer for hours and not even acknowledge hellos. My mom made a better effort, at least maintaining conversation when she was in their presence. But she would pretty quickly retreat to the room. They weren’t making things any better, but neither I nor my wife blamed them too much. We were doing the same thing.
The wife would purposely stay out after work and have a drink or two with friends rather than come home right away. I spend a lot of time up here on the computer with the door closed. Whenever the Big Session commences, I decline the invitation to play cards, and head up here. I can’t watch the Lakers in the living room because Phineas talks too much, so I do so in the bedroom. We usually dodge their attempts to sequester us for lunch somewhere on our days off. An account of what happens when we’re not successful at this can be found in the previous post, I Don’t Hate Mondays.
All in all, this was not working. But come Tuesday, they left (finally) for San Diego for a mere 9 days. They’ve been here for a month and a half solid (excepting their respective stays in the hospital – don’t ask, but be assured it’s just as ridiculous as everything else).
So to get back to my Tuesday recap, this is why we wanted to have another drink somewhere: so we could talk about the situation now that there’s some breathing room.
We had a frustrating half hour trying several bars that didn’t work: one was closed, one had pool night with no open chairs, another had karaoke with no open chairs, another we didn’t even enter because the people outside were seriously scary. We ended up at a familiar haunt and had three Cadillac Margaritas total: 1.5 each.
Most of the time we groused about the situation and how selfish and insensitive her father and stepmother were. (It should be noted that this same duo had almost zero input – financially and spiritually and time-spent – into the wife’s life until about five years ago. Phineas never paid child support after he left [when the wife was 6 years old]. The wife lived with them for a year, during which she was mostly grounded and they stole her paychecks.) We are all for acknowledging what your parents did in sacrificing for your well-being, but these people didn’t have any deposits in that bank. They just kind of appeared in her life once everything was fine again. And appeared here once we had a big house and they didn’t feel like spending the winter in Michigan and their other three kids had moved out – though they weren’t staying with any of them for some reason
Our discussion went on like that. And it ended with the wife saying she didn’t know what to do. I offered to be the one to have The Talk with them, as long as she was present. The talk will be frank and firm, but as diplomatic as possible. I’ll probably have to say something like, ‘A week or two is fine – we love it. But we have too much going on to put you up for four months. My parents are paying rent. They own part of this house. They have a say in staying here. But you’ve kind of overstepped your bounds by assuming it would be all right to live with us.’
I hope I can say something like that. But it might be hard . . .
So we get home and I still have the Lakers on Tivo. Well, nothing like a martini and the Lakers . . .
Come morning, I had clearly had Too Much Fun the night before. I spent most of the day with my version of a hangover: a tension headache across the back of my neck and head, and a general feeling of disorientation. It was a good day at Michael’s: $144. I made it through without screwing up anything.
When I got home I snuggled into bed for a nap . . . that lasted till 9:30 p.m.
My days of being hungover at work are behind me, but every now and then things get away from you.