Relationships evolve over time. I recall when hope and change brought my girlfriend and me together. She was the new girl in my office. I promised hope when I offered to drive her to work without knowing I would inherit the disaster known as her driving.
We've had enough successes to get us past the bumps in the road, enough to stay the course and see what else we can accomplish together. I'm now the President Obama of our relationship. I'm simply trying to move things “forward.” But, you see, to ensure a brighter tomorrow, I must secure the approval of the swing state, her parents, Dawn and Eric.
In June I drove to meet them for the first time at Damon's Steakhouse in Glendale. On the way to Damon's I felt like I was going to have a heart attack and she wasn't even driving.
“My parents hated my exboyfriend,” she told me. My palms were sweaty and I was out of breath.
“Thanks for the vote of confidence!” I exclaimed as I begged for ice water.
I downed a Mai Tai to help me to relax as we waited for Dawn and Eric. Each time the door opened I nearly jumped to my feet until I finally saw a 6'4 man accompanying an attractive blonde woman. When I shook Eric's hand I marveled at his height and remembered how my exgirlfriend's dad, Joshua was also 6'4. I'm attracted to girls whose dads can easily reach for tupperwear.
Dawn and Eric had just come back from France to visit their other daughter, Mari studying abroad in Paris. I asked them all about the food and their visits to museums. In return, Dawn handed me a special gift wrapped box of French chocolate.
“Wow, thank you, Dawn. That's very nice of you.” I accepted graciously.
Eric ordered coconut shrimp as an appetizer. The shrimps were fresh and delightful. I ate three. We ordered another round of Mai Tais.
“Elliot, why don't you have the last shrimp?” he suggested.
This was no small gesture. A father giving his daughter's boyfriend the last remaining prawn is a sign of acceptance. Though I felt like a shrimp next to Eric, this made me feel like a big man. Our entrees and the next round of Mai Tais gave way to an easy and already familiar rapport that lasted the entire dinner.
I was excited to hang out with Eric and Dawn again. I pretended Eric and I had already made plans. When my girlfriend would invite me to do something I would break the news that her dad and I had dinner plans at our favorite made up Mexican restaurant. “I cant, sorry. Eric and I are heading to Don Chachi's.”
After attending a festive poolside meal at their home where I met Mari for the first time, Dawn and Eric invited me to a pig roast. I was free that night since Eric and I were not going to Don Chachi's.
“Should I bring a pig?” I asked them. No one laughed, except for me.
We each brought a bottle of wine to the pig roast for what became a 14 bottle blind wine tasting. After sipping each wine we shared our thoughts and then wrote down notes. My notes included “rich and floral” while my girlfriend scribbled “taste like dog poo.”
I was most vocal about wine #6. All I could taste was a bitter and sour grape that scratched my throat. “Leaves me unhappy,” I wrote.
“This was the wine I brought,” said Eric.
I tried to reverse course. “That said, it's a great party wine.”
Dawn pointed to the hipster baby boomer talking to my girlfriend. “His name is Phil, but at parties he tells people his name is Phillippe.” She whispered. “He's such a poser.” Plus he was in the way of the wonderful blue cheese crustinis that I told everyone that I had made.
After the wine tasting we made our way outside to see the pig get flipped over.
“This pig lived a good well nourished life. He was fed local almonds and fresh grass,” our host declared.
I didn't know pigs ate almonds. Seems like something Philippe would feed a pig.
As we drank more and more wine, I asked Dawn if she read “50 Shades of Grey” and told Eric I bet against his alma mater, UCLA. By this time we were old friends who enjoyed another remarkable meal highlighted by the deliciousness of the roasted swine. Eating pig with my girlfriend and her parents was another special get to know you, something I will not be able to do with my parents when they meet my girlfriend in two weeks.
I'm starting to feel like I am earning the respect of Dawn and Eric. I feel safe around them, safe enough that I can even invite Dawn to mine and Eric's table at Don Chachi's. I'll save them both a shrimp.