Sunday, August 21, 2016

Meeting the Parents

M and I watched a fun quiz show the other night called "das Paarduell."  Celebrity couples competed against each other in various games, including trivia contests, silly games, and several versions of "Wie gut kennt ihr euch?" ("How well do you know each other?").

One of the versions of that last game went like this:

One of the pair was given an easel and a marker and told to write down five words pertaining to a given topic having something to do with them as a couple. Her partner couldn't see what she wrote down, but he had then 30 seconds to tell a story based on that topic. The couple earned 1 point for each word on the hidden list that the partner used in his story.

The first topic last night was "the first time you met his parents," and this got us to talking. M pointed out that we would have failed with that topic because he first met my parents in 1986 on their first trip to Esslingen. I was on the exchange at the time and in Esslingen, but I was not at the gathering where M and my parents met.

my Schwiegermutter on left, and my mom on the right, 1986
"Hey Mom! Twenty years from now, this boy will become your Schwiegersohn!"
The first time I was together with M and my parents was four years later when he was in Sheboygan on the exchange and I went with them, him, and another German boy up to my family's cottage for a weekend. My parents wanted to show the boys the north woods, and they brought me along as a younger person more willing to drive into bear country on a three-wheeler as well as someone who could speak German.

Northern Wisconsin, 1990
When M spoke at our wedding reception in 2006, he mentioned being slightly nervous leaving home and going to Sheboygan for the exchange. But, he said, since he already knew a really nice couple - my parents - he knew he'd have a soft place to fall if things went badly.

It doesn't work the other way either, because I first met his mum as the coordinator of the exchange program I was participating in when I arrived in Esslingen in 1986. Although M and I met each other for the first time during my six months in Esslingen, I already knew his mother well by that time.

So therefore we would not be able to describe together the moment of M meeting my parents or me meeting his mother. Often such meetings are awkward ("What if they don't like me??"  "What if I don't like them?!?"), but not for us! By the time we announced we were getting married, our parents were already close friends with each other and also with the host family M stayed with for those six months in Sheboygan. Between us all we had met often for dinners - even holiday dinners - and family fun. All there was left for them to say was, "Good choice!"

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