Darrin's family thrives on conflict. I've learned to say things that distract in volatile situations. For instance: Darrin's aunt and sister (or sister and mother, or aunt and uncle--pretty much any relative can be inserted here) are arguing about which car Darrin and I would like to ride in, or what grades our children should be in, or whether or not Darrin has lost more hair since we last visited. I say, "Wow! You have black squirrels here!! I've never seen black squirrels before (this is a lie, of course)!!" I quickly switch to, "Did you redo your kitchen since I was here last? I don't remember the countertops being marble..." or, in an emergency, "Umm...I really need to use the bathroom!" and I run away and lock myself in for about 15 minutes. Darrin becomes dazed and confused, and floats around trying to please everyone. I pray for the days to pass quickly.
This visit there was fuss. I had to have my hair done professionally (I absolutely refused fake nails, though, nor would I allow the salon to do my make-up). I had to wear a formal (which I insisted on buying and bringing myself. Darrin's sister was deathly afraid I'd not have the fashion sense to find something appropriate--her attire was SO outclassed by mine--I won! Big fat hairy deal...). Darrin and I made arrangements to stay with a family member. Darrin's aunt made us reservations at an extremely nice hotel--her reasoning: we were there without our children...we would need privacy...this would be a wonderful time for uninterrupted intimacy... ummm...yeah...not going to go there...We ended up keeping the hotel room, because a member of Darrin's family paid for it, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. There were certainly times when the hotel became a much-needed haven.
All in all, everything turned out to be lots of fun. Darrin's 20-year-old nephew decided to adopt me. He was at my side through most of the festivities and at every meal. And since he's adorable, I can't complain about that. Darrin's 21-year-old nephew was at my other side most of the time, as well. I danced with them at the wedding--as well as with many other men, including my husband and father-in-law, and a couple of women, as well. Bathrooms seem to be an interesting place for me to meet people. One very drunk woman and I were alone in the ladies room. She exclaimed over the color of my dress, told me I had "such a cute little figure", and asked if I'd like to come home with her. I thanked her nicely, said perhaps another time, and walked her to the door. She leaned close to me and said, "You can come to my home anytime, and stay as long as you'd like." The interesting thing is that I had a very similar conversation with a man who had also been celebrating heavily. He was in his late 20's, clean cut, and very nice looking. When I told Darrin's nephew about the bathroom proposition, he laughed and said, "I'll bet that's the first time you've had that happen, isn't it??!!!??" I felt it would be wise not to answer that.
I saw the propsition man the next day at Darrin's aunt's home. He remembered our interactions and was a little embarrassed. I gave him the Italian salute on each cheek, and said, "No harm done. Besides, I don't have your address or phone number--not much chance that I'd be taking you up on your offer." I didn't add that I had no idea what his name was, either. As he was saying good-bye to everyone, about an hour later, he slipped me a piece of paper. I now have all the information he had forgotten to supply earlier...
Darrin's family was on their best behavior. There were no major wars, and I was able to remain neutral in every situation. It was an interesting, sometimes fun, often hilarious visit. I'm glad to be home.