Friday, March 18, 2011

In-Laws (Jeremy)

Paulo and Malu have been dating for a little over a year. In the next few weeks, Carol and I will most likely meet her parents, as they, along with Malu, will be flying in from the southern part of Brazil to spend the weekend in our home. The visit is her dad's idea - a chance for the families to meet. I like the idea. However, I cannot help but feel that we are about to live out a scene from a Wes Anderson film. Consider the following variables:

1) Carol and I (representing Paulo's parents) are just a little older than Senior Carlos and Dona Maria's (Malu's father) oldest son
2) Her parents seem to be quiet talkers, and I'm a foreigner
3) Paulo has never met them, only talking with them over the phone
4) Paulo is finishing high school and Malu has her PhD, currently working with a research team in Sao Paulo
5) This will be the first time that Paulo and Malu actually meet, as their relationship has consisted solely of Skype and phone calls

It is the perfect storm of awkwardness, as all types of social inconveniences have seemingly aligned for one fateful encounter.

The fun side of all of this has been our preparation for the weekend, particularly Paulo's grooming. Carol is handling his table etiquette - posture, arm placement, proper usage of utensils, excusing oneself from the table. I have directed my efforts towards his treatment of her parents - use of titles, conversation starters and eye contact. This crash course in breeding has heightened Paulo's anxiety in meeting her family, which is a good sign in my opinion. First, it shows that he cares about Malu and is willing to undergo this reconditioning to value the people she values. Second, it demonstrates that Paulo maintains a healthy fear for her father - a trait that seems quite effective in keeping couples in bounds relationally. In all of this, it's been quite encouraging to see God take a timid, acceptance-driven teenager from a few years back and transform him into someone capable of caring for/committing to another. But, the real highlight for me is the careful deliberation with which Paulo arranges the silverware on his plate following a meal, invariably followed by an uncertain glance to Carol for approval. Here's to non-conventional weekends.    


Christy said...

I cannot WAIT to hear how this goes. I'd rent the movie in a heartbeat.

Brea said...

Wow, hoping for a follow-up post to this one! :)