Meet the Parents

Timetable train timetable, ItalyThe five of us anxiously awaited the shuttle train from Da Vinci Airport. The train pulled in and we examined every face stepping off. None were familiar

“They must be on the next one.” Donna looked at her watch.

“Grandpa probably cursed out the engineer for driving too slow. . .”

“So they kicked him off!”

Donna laughed at the kid’s acute depiction of her father (albeit a nervous laugh.)

Lee and Shari initially thought Donna was out of her mind for wanting to spend her money on this trip, yet wanted to be part of it – for a little while at least. After we’d been gone a few weeks, they made plans to meet us in Rome.

Waiting like this reminded me of the first time I met them. They flew up to the college to visit Donna. We’d been dating for a few months and they wanted to meet me. I was nervous as hell, certain that with one look at me they’d spot what a loser I was and convince Donna to dump me.

My fears were justified. I had terrible luck with former girlfriend’s parents. Before returning to college, I was living a less-than-desirable lifestyle working in a sporting good store and drinking like a fish. My parents were divorced and my resume as a potential son-in-law was weaker than weak. My only glimmer of hope was the two year degree I’d proudly earned (even though it took me four years). My plan was to transfer to a university and earn my bachelor’s, but my grades weren’t high enough to get into an affordable public college. One private college actually accepted my application, but the tuition was out of my financial league. I felt things were bleak as I watched everybody around me graduate from college, get married, buy houses, all that.

I desperately wanted to settle down with a respectable girl, but none seemed interested in a racquetball shoe salesman with a perpetual hangover.

During this time, any relationship with a decent girl never lasted for more than a few months. Somebody would eventually talk sense into her and – boom! Goodbye Jeff. A girlfriend’s mother actually came into the store to deliver the dirty deed herself. I was stringing a tennis racket when she approached me and politely yet firmly ask me to stop seeing her daughter.

I really just wanted to be part of a family. I never had a brother so I looked forward to having a brother in law. I dreamed of gathering around a huge dinner table headed by parents that adored each other to laugh with my siblings-in-law – like Eight is Enough.

* * *

“Hey!” a familiar voice boomed over the crowd. Everybody ran toward Lee and swarmed him with hugs. “Your mother is sitting on the other side of the station with our luggage.”

“Where’ve you guys been, Grandpa?”

He smiled a sheepish grin. “We missed the shuttle, so wound up on another train.”

“Jeffery.” Lee said, extending his hand to me. I took it then brought him closer to me for a hug. It seemed like forever since the day he dropped us off at the airport. He patted my back and chuckled. “We missed you guys.”

All settled at the hotel, Lee opened a bottle of Chianti that I’d bought to toast our reunion. Shari passed out root beer candy to the kids and we caught up on news. “It seems like you guys have been gone forever.” Lee said, grabbing Jill for another hug.

Damn it was good to see them.

NEXT: Gladiators Taking a Cigarette Break

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