About thirty years ago last December, a nervous twenty-something young man appeared at my parent's front door. He was wearing a gray sweater (almost identical to the one I was about to give him for Christmas) and no overcoat, despite below freezing temperatures.
My parents huddled around him like they were examining a sirloin steak at the butcher counter.
My father did not think the young man was was prime until he delivered their first grandchild (not literally) eight years later.
And I'm not sure my future husband was too fond of them, either.
Tomorrow afternoon our adult son will bring his girlfriend of one year home for the first time. We've met her several times out East, so we don't have those "first time" jitters. But what concerns me is that this city girl has never been to the clichéd Fly Over states, except (yes, literally) for a stop at O'Hare Airport.
Our home is nothing like O'Hare Airport.
Today I'm doing the last minute cleaning of the house, which means scrubbing the area where the cat boxes are and ridding the basement of some damp, unknown odor. I'm heading to Target for a new comforter for the guest room. The current spread – that has a paint-spattered motif -- has an eight inch stain on it of indistinguishable origin. It looks like rust and it worries me, though I’m not sure it isn’t part of the pattern. The spread has been dry cleaned and the stain did not come out.
I've also been reviewing the things I should not do or say.
My husband has advised me. While I may refer to photographs on the wall, I may not under any circumstances get out the baby books or any video tapes (yeah, I'm dating myself.)
I am not to mention the following things:
That son – clad in a miniature white button-down dress shirt, red bow tie and suspenders -- walked out of his piano recital in the middle of his song, and returned triumphantly to NAIL that eight year old easy version of “Ode to Joy.”
That he took out the neighbor's mailbox while coming down the hill on his bicycle, and didn't have a scratch on him. (Wonder of Wonder, miracle of miracles!)
That he told us when he was about six and the neighbor's house was for sale that "when I grow up, I'm going to buy that house so I can always live next to you."
No, I'm not to point out the church where he directed a landscaping project for his Eagle merit badge, or the elementary school he won the fifth grade geography bee. I’m not going to mention how he loved listening to Riverwalk Jazz on NPR when he was a little guy. Nor will I show her any of his ribbons and trophies. Nor will I get out the baby book where I’ve kept the blonde curls clipped by the hairdresser when he got his first hair cut. None of that.
No, I'm going to pretend they are an adult couple, friends from Chicago perhaps, visiting us for the weekend.
(Except for the part where I open my wallet and give them all the money inside. Except for that part.)