Adventures in Social Awkwardness: The Day I Met My Mother-In-Law

Adventures in Social Awkwardness: The Day I Met My Mother-In-Law

On our first Halloween as a couple, my husband (then my boyfriend) and I dressed up as hillbillies. I dabbed some brown eyeshadow on his face to look like five o'clock shadow and tore holes in his John Deere t-shirt. I put my hair in pigtails, gave myself an absurd amount of freckles with eyeliner, and threw four sticks of gum in my mouth to smack as loudly as possible.

We spent part of the evening in the live audience for the campus television show I helped write being as goofy and obnoxious as possible. We had finished up filming and were headed out into the cool October night laughing when Caleb got a phone call.

"Hey, my mom is at Walmart with my sisters," he said. "Do you want to go meet them?"

"Sure!"

We hopped in his big black truck named Midnight and headed toward Walmart. About halfway there, I realized what I was doing. I looked at my flip-flops and felt the pigtails in my hair.

"Hey, you think we should have changed first? I've never met your mom," I said.

"She won't care," he said. And that was that.

That was that. What was wrong with me?!? I didn't argue or insist on changing or anything a normal person would do. I just said, "Okay, good." When I look back to that moment, I want to pat myself on the head and say, "Bless your heart, honey."

We found our way into the store looking every inch like we'd walked off a post from the People of Walmart website and went looking for his family.

"Shhh," he whispered as he peered around the aisles like a secret agent. "Wait until I find them." We turned another corner, and he did a happy dance, waving me forward.

So there I am, about to meet my boyfriend's mother for the very first time. Remember that I knew I was going to marry him, so I knew I was going to see this woman at birthdays and holidays every year from then on. I knew that I could never take back a first impression. This was going to be her first memory of me for the rest of my life. Most people do not know this when they meet their future mother-in-law, and if they do, they certainly don't do what I did.

I ran down the aisle, flip-flops slapping the cement floor and pigtails flying out behind me. I skidded to a stop barely a foot away from her, and shouted, "Howdy!"

I don't remember much else from that moment. I remember her eyes popping open. I remember giggles all around. And I remember thinking, "Well, met my future mother-in-law."

Not long ago I asked her what she thought when I nearly ran into her hollering "Howdy!" at the top of my lungs and pigtails flying.

"I thought you were perfect for him."

Photo credit: Caleb McCary 2004

Photo credit: Caleb McCary 2004

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