Neon Watermelon 

*Note: This was written a while ago and in que to publish today. My hand is still very much broken. Carry on….

Hubs and I have never really dated. We just didn’t. We met, spent time together after my shifts at the restaurant I was employed at, he moved into my house when he was in between jobs and down on his luck, we got engaged, married, kids, now. Lol. There were no dates involved in the dynamic of our relationship at the beginning. Now that we’ve achieved most of our short term goals and are in it for the long haul raising the kids and working toward retirement (if such a thing will exist by the time we get there) We decided to correct our lack of dating, mostly so we could remember the etiquette to teach our kids lol. 

Since my birthday is coming up Hubs decided we should go out for a nice dinner, somewhere we’d never been before. The conversation went something like this as we were standing in the kitchen while I was munching on a piece of the delicious cheesecake Little picked out for my Mother’s Day gift:

Hubs: “You know what? I’m going to take you out for a nice dinner for your birthday. Some where nice that we don’t go often.”

Me: “Where is that? Everywhere we try to go outside of our usual never works out. Like, the nicest place we can manage outside of Applebee’s is Smokey Bones.” I said with a laugh.

Hubs: After a brief pause. “Hey! Cheesecake Factory! I’m going to take you out to Cheesecake Factory.”

Me: *look of terror* Um…. Yeah. About that…

Oh Cheesecake Factory… The one time I remember eating there was quite possibly one of the most embarassing experiences of my entire life. So mortifying in fact, I’ve never set foot into one since. That says a lot for me because I have no shame. Hubs is all like: “how about Cheesecake Factory?” trying to be thoughtful and spontaneous, and I’m all like: “How about never?” Ugh… Like I’ve done a lot of outlandish, off the wall embarassing things, but I’ve never wanted to cry from embarrassment like I did after that lunch. The entire afternoon was just a complete disaster.

I was supposed to be meeting my boyfriend at the time to go out for his birthday dinner thing with his family. I’d already “officially” met them the previous Christmas, and we’d popped in for short visits here and there so it wasn’t a big deal in that regard, but it was still kind of significant. We’d been dating for just about a year at that point if you don’t count living together before we went “official” so it was kind of that awkward transition where it had been long enough there was potential for it to be serious, but not so long that I really felt like I had been accepted by his family.

So, boyfriend had spent the night at his place and I at mine. There was a reason but I don’t remember exactly what it was. He was supposed to come pick me up later that afternoon. Instead of waiting around all day I decided to go out and enjoy my day off. Thinking I would have plenty of time to change and get ready before dinner I threw on what my boyfriend called my neon watermelon ensemble (neon pink eyeshadow, body glitter, neon green tank, and some Tripp pants bondage chains and all) to head out to the mall.

I still hadn’t quite settled on a style at that point in my life, but I knew my neon watermelon wouldn’t be appropriate for dinner out, especially with Boyfriend’s mom… Lol… Being Boyfriend’s mom. She’s kind of an old school high society type. A lot like Emily Gilmore from Gilmore Girls honestly lol. She expects certain things from you when presenting yourself to the world, and neon watermelon is nowhere on that list.

I didn’t have too much issue with her disapproval when I was showing up for the sake of showing up in whatever I happened to be wearing, but dinner was different. As I’m heading back to my apartment Boyfriend calls. I don’t even remember why but he wanted me to meet him at his parents house instead of picking me up, and much earlier than expected. He gave me the impression that we would still have time to get ready before dinner, so I detoured immediately in all of my watermelon glory.

I arrived and made my way inside to find boyfriend sitting at the kitchen table in his usual khaki shorts and tee shirt, his mom in a skirt, sister in a dress, and dad in a tie. Apparently they had decided to have a late lunch instead, but no one bothered to tell me. So… Here I am in all my neon, and his parents are prepared for a semi-formal dinner out. I was absolutely mortified. Boyfriend was like: “Hey, so… We’re going to go eat early. Plans just sort of changed. ”

I replied: “oh.. Well sure. Just let me go change. I have my clothes in the car.” I said with a smile as I turned around to head back outside trying to think of how to get something presentable ready on less than a moments notice. I did have clothes in the car, but they weren’t pressed of even folded for that matter. They were clean as I had neglected to take them in from the laundromat, but they were wrinkled and had been stuffed in my trunk for a few days. I franticly dug around trying to find a suitable outfit that wouldn’t look obviously disheveled. I managed to throw something together and rush inside to change.

It didn’t take me but fifteen minutes to adjust my outfit and scrub as much of my glitter and neon eyeshadow off as I could. I also had to take some of my buttons off my purse, you know, the little metal button/pin things that were fairly popular ten years ago? lol. Yep. I had a bunch of them on my purse, and I used most of them to fast hem my pants. The only thing I could find that was sort of formal was a pair of my work pants. They were khaki and too long. Walking around on wet restaurant floors all day left them ragged around the ends and slightly stained. With my shoes I could pull off a weird high hem, but getting buttons and hair clips and everything else I could find to achieve my desired effect quickly was a whole thing.

Boyfriend ended up knocking on the bathroom door asking if I was ready to go a few times during the whole process, and when I eventually made my way out I found his entirely family had changed. I felt SO AWFUL. His mom and sister were in jeans, and his dad switched out to a polo. On the one hand it was nice they were polite and tried to accommodate for me, but it was so embarrassing to show up there when I was still trying to fit in all sorts of a mess, completely unprepared. Social Strike 1. An offense, especially to his mom. She never let me forget it either.

After I pulled a decent outfit completely out of my ass; we all piled into his dad’s car and off we went. That just made the awkward factor increase with every passing moment. His dad’s driving was something entirely on its own. I guess 90mph doesn’t feel so fast after being a pilot, but it was pretty nerve wrecking in the back seat of a Buick flying through traffic. Lol. Plus, we were in the back seat of a car with his parents. I felt like I was 10 again, going somewhere with my own parents which made it oddly comfortable and unusual just the same. Boyfriend was almost 30, but the way things played out in the car it just felt so juvenile and almost innocent.

We get there, and decide to wander around the mall attached to the restaurant while we’re waiting for our reservation. It was an exceptionally nice day out and we all wandered around together for a moment until there was a social split between the girls and the guys which I missed completely. His mom invited me to head off with her and his sister, but I declined. Mostly because I was broke and couldn’t afford anything in the store they were interested in, but also because it was weird to me to just go off with these people I barely knew who didn’t particularly like me. Well I don’t know if it was so much that they didn’t like me, because they never really had a chance to get to know me, but they definitely weren’t sure what to do with me and my lack of social grace. They were mostly trying to figure me out, and I was having none of it. The awkward hurts even more writing about it now, ages later.

So… Social Strike 2 of this adventure happened, and they wandered off while I stuck by Boyfriend and his dad. Boyfriend pulled me aside a few moments after his mom and sister wandered away and explained that his dad wanted to talk to him, which made things even worse. Like I realized it on my own walking down the sidewalk in total silence, but having him point it out just made my stomach drop out of my toes. We ended up waiting for about twenty minutes in a small courtyard thingy at the mall where all of the awkward silence ensued. I made up some excuse that I can’t remember to wander away from them and give them the time alone they wanted, but the mistake had been made and it didn’t matter.

Finally getting seated at the restaurant wasn’t making anything better. I’m not sure how it happened but instead of sitting next to Boyfriend, I got seated across from him inbetween his sister and dad whom I’d already made a GREAT impression on at this point. So the waiter comes around for drink orders, starting with Boyfriend’s mom who immediately goes: “Oh, they have the best mojitos here. Let’s get one girls! Three.”

Okay… I’m only 19 at this point, turning 20 later that year which Boyfriend had apparently never mentioned to his family before. Celebrating their son’s twenty seventh birthday, his parents just assumed I was much older. So as politely as I can, I try to decline the mojito before the waiter asks for ID. Boyfriend’s mom thought I was just being fickle and just didn’t want one, so she kept insisting that I try it until eventually I just said: “Well, it’s not that I don’t want one. It’s that I can’t.”

There was a little bit more resistance from boyfriends mom as I sat trying so desperately to stall while digging around in my purse pretending to look for my ID until boyfriend or I (can’t remember who said it or if we said it together) eventually piped up with “she’s/I’m not 21.”

Social Strike 3. I’m out.

The entire table went silent. Absolutely pin drop silent for what seemed like forever until boyfriend’s mom finally told the waiter: “Bring three anyway. I need two.” During that whole thing Boyfriend’s dad was trying not to bust out laughing behind his menu. It took him several minutes to compose himself before he managed to ask: “You’re not 21? Please tell me you’re at least 18.”

To which Boyfriend turned four shades of red, and said: “Oh my God! Dad! What the hell?”

I smiled at his dad being so straightforward, and replied: “Yes. I’m over 18. I’ll be 20, so I’m close. Just not quite there yet. Next year.”

With that out of the way, tensions eased a little bit, the first round of drinks arrived, and we ordered our meal with a little bit of polite conversation until once again Boyfriend’s dad says: “wait… So you’re going to be 20. You’re 19 now and how long have you been dating? Two, years?”

Before I could answer Boyfriend jumped in with: “Dad, her birthday is in June. She was 18 when we met. It’s barely been a year since we started dating. I’m not going around robbing the cradle. Good God. Happy birthday, son! I’m going to make you as uncomfortable as humanly possible and embarrass your girlfriend.”

I don’t remember what his dad said in reply but I do remember remaining silent for the duration of our meal, avoiding eye contact with pretty much everyone and his mom directing the conversation away from Boyfriend and I and toward his sister and her career.

After the meal his mom and sister went off to do something together and Boyfriend and I rode back with his dad to my car in silence. It was AWFUL. The whole thing was just awful. One good thing came about out of it anyway. The rest of the short time I was around his family they were much more understanding of my quirks that came with immaturity. Always with the disapproving sideways glances, but not as harsh in their judgements, or glib in their remarks.

I didn’t actually cry when it happened, although I wanted to and got pretty close a few times towards the end of the outing. That was really the first time we got beyond polite conversation when visiting with his family. I wasn’t just some random girl he was seeing, they were getting to know me. Or at least trying to, even as socially inept as I was. I think that hurts more than anything else.

I don’t have an issue accepting the fact that we didn’t belong together. We don’t for so many reasons I’m not going to get into again. That doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is all of the effort he put in building the illusion of something meaningful if he never really felt that way. He didn’t have to put on a charade by introducing me to his family, and friends. Like, why? What even was the point with that? 

 I wasn’t diagnosed or healthy at that point in my life so I’m sure I did a lot of things due to my disordered thinking, I don’t remember as disordered or weird. I’m not saying I was some perfect porcelain flower that he trampled all over. No, not at all. It just confuses me why someone would go to so much effort to build a relationship; then do a complete 180 into denial that it ever happened at all. 

It was so natural the way he introduced me to everyone too. It wasn’t forced. I had asked a few times since he was fairly involved with my own family from the beginning, but I never demanded he introduce me to these people. He just did. We’d been dating for six or seven months, it was the holidays. His best friend was in town so we went to hang out and did the annual movie tradition thing that they’d been doing forever. He didn’t have to take me along, but he did. When his mom invited me to Christmas dinner he didn’t have to tell me. He could have made up some excuse, but he didn’t. 

Maybe it’s not the fact that it happened that bothers me so much as the fact that I was foolish enough to believe all those little things actually meant something. That I meant something more to him, than the other girls he saw on the side. Or maybe it’s just another social strike against me, the Neon Watermelon Girl.

Whatever the case Cheesecake Factory is a giant flaming no. I’m so thankful Hubs and I have finally gotten to the point where we can talk about things like that and he doesn’t freak out. I was able to relay the entire story to him and he thought it was hilarious instead of some affront to our marriage like he has in the past. At least I don’t have to dance around trying to avoid my memories like a mojito. Lol. 

Hubs has always known about my blog, I never hid anything about my recovery from him, but now he’s able to actually listen to my stories. He’s able to engage in conversation about them. The most important part I think is that he’s okay with the importance of the roll my ex had in my life. I can finally say: “well yeah, I love the guy, but he’s not my husband. You are.” and it means something to Hubs. It’s how I’ve always felt, but being able to actually say it without threat or risk to my marriage feels likes ton of fucking bricks fell off my chest.

Five years of marriage is the magic number apparently lol. I get to go on real dates now, and I get to discuss my war stories and poor decisions freely. 😜