Last week, we watched Will’s competitive juices flow as he took on his girlfriend, Sam, in an epic battle of love. Although Sam initially held the upper hand, outdoing Will at every turn, Will eventually rose like a phoenix from the ashes of defeat to claim complete and total victory (ok, maybe a slightly melodramatic description, but the win did feel great).
As we turn our attention to the days following the “I love you” wars, we find Will reveling in the glory of conquest with a thoroughly smitten Sam at his side. But, alas, there is no rest for our triumphant warrior. For soon he must face another daunting task, one that has left lesser men quivering in their boots and running for cover while crying like a little girl. As he faces this grueling test of manhood, does he rise up and conquer once again, or will he crumble and succumb to defeat? Find out this week on “Our Story.”
There comes a time in every man’s life when he is faced with meeting his girlfriend’s family. Men often find these meetings intimidating because they know that parents love their girls very much. They typically aren’t going to simply hand her off to just any old guy (even if he is a divine vision of masculine perfection akin to Apollo of the Greeks).
Families want their daughter’s boyfriend to prove himself – they want to see how kind and caring he is, they want to know he’s a good match for their girl, and they want to sense that he really is a good guy (even if he’s a little rough around the edge) who, deep down, has excellent employment prospects. (After all, who wants to have their daughter and her deadbeat husband living in their basement in perpetuity?)
And even though I had those bases covered (kind and caring – check, good match for Sam – check, good guy – check, employable – check, looks rivaling Apollo – check), it was still a little nerve-wracking meeting Sam’s family. I knew I would be on trial from the get-go. I definitely needed to bring my A-game if I was going to impress – especially since I’m not always the smoothest social operator in situations involving Sam (as I had demonstrated many time previously).
The Initial Screening
From the moment Sam and I started dating, Sam’s mom, Jane, was dying to meet me. Unfortunately, she lived about 600 miles away in California. So, Jane’s sister, Nikki (who lived in the town next to us) volunteered to do the initial boyfriend screening on her behalf.
Nikki decided the best setting for this “meet and greet” would be a dinner party at her house. When I discovered that I’d be meeting Sam’s family for the first time at a dinner party, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. See, dinner parties are my thing – LeBron James does basketball, Babe Ruth did baseball, I do dinner parties.
I honed this particular skill set as a missionary in Seattle. During the time I lived there, I ate dinner at a different family’s house almost every day. All in all, I figure I logged almost a thousand hours (a thousand hours!) at dinner parties over my two years as a missionary. The people who had me over came from all different background and walks of life. Some of the people were fantastic talkers who carried conversations easily, others not so much. Some had interests similar to mine (like basketball, reading, and science) while others had less conventional hobbies (like breeding ferrets or evading law enforcement personnel). After two years of meeting and eating with such a wide range of people, I felt confident that I could carry a conversation with much pretty anyone provided we were sitting around a dinner table.
The Dinner Party
Upon arrival at Nikki’s house, I met Nikki, Nikki’s husband Tom, and Tom’s friend Daryl (who was staying with them for a couple of weeks). Dinner was just about ready when we arrived, so we went straight to the dining room and had a seat.
Right away I was impressed with what good hosts Nikki and Tom are. They did an amazing job making me feel at home. Plus, they made great food (definite plus for 21-year-old me who could eat roughly half my body weight in food at any given sitting).
As we ate, we chatted about a whole slew of things ranging from Seinfeld (a favorite of Tom’s and mine) to being a bouncer at the Hard Rock Café in Las Vegas (a job both Tom and Daryl had once held) to what a crazy child Sam was. This last topic was particularly juicy: I got to hear all sorts of fun stories – like how Sam spread butter all over the speakers of Nikki’s brand new boom box in retaliation for some perceived slight.
By the end of the evening, I felt almost like Nikki and Tom were my aunt and uncle even though I’d only met them a few hours ago. More, importantly, though, I got the Nikki and Tom’s stamp of approval – later that night Jane texted Sam to tell her how much Nikki and Tom liked me.
Next Week . . .
With the semester at BYU coming to a close, Will and Sam travel home to spend the holidays with their families. Since both their families live in Southern California, this is a great opportunity for them to meet each other’s parents. Does Will build on the momentum he established with Nikki and Tom, or does he spectacularly crash and burn under the Hollywood lights? Find out next week on “Our Story.”
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