Will meeting of parents be meeting of minds?

Today my fiance and I face what may be the trickiest test yet of our relationship.
   Oh sure, you might think moving in together was a big deal — or even scandalous.
   Many of our friends say they knew we were serious about each other when we adopted two kittens together last fall.
   And merging our CD collections really seemed like a significant event.
   Then there was the proposal itself.
   But we had an easy time apartment hunting.
   The cats are a delight — although they occasionally decide to wake one of us up at 4 a.m. with a lick on the nose.
   I’ve recovered from the shock of seeing Rick Astley next to my Fiona Apple CD.
   And even before Eric popped the question — on bended knee! — I knew how I’d answer.
   No, today’s events will be on an entirely different level.
   It’s time for our parents to meet.
   My folks were serious hippies in their youth. We’re talking Vietnam protests, love beads and long hair.
   His folks, well, had a different perspective back then. For one thing, his father enlisted in the Marines and fought in Vietnam.
   My parents, who got married right after college, are divorced.
   His parents, who tied the knot just after high school, celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary during the summer.
   My mother doesn’t cook much anymore.
   His mother is always in the kitchen when we arrive for a visit.
   My family is Jewish.
   His pretty much confines religious observances to Christmas.
   So, like I said, it should be an interesting day.
   In spite of all that, though, I really think they might get along well. After all, they do certainly have something in common now.
   I’m speaking, of course, about wedding planning. We’ve got caterers’ menus to review, a guest list to write, budgets to plan.
   Then there’s also that bit about their kids deciding to spend the rest of their lives together.
   I’ve already told Eric that if I could have chosen from among all the other families I know, his is the one I’d want to join.
   So I hope our parents will come to see how well we can all complement each other.
   After all, they’re the ones who raised a high-strung, vegetarian daughter who enjoys driving — and a totally calm son who loves steak but doesn’t much like being behind the wheel.
   I asked my mother the other night — as she was pondering getting a manicure for the first time because Eric’s mother does nails — what the two sets of parents will be to each other once we’re married. (I meant besides people who fight over where their children will spend Thanksgiving.)
   She said she’s never heard a word for it in English, but in Yiddish your child’s in-laws are your makhetonim.
   That sure is a mouthful, but I like the idea of having a name for the special relationship of total strangers who may one day be close enough friends to gang up on us and demand grandchildren.
  Rachel Dickler is city editor at The Daily Star.

This column was published Sept. 25, 1999


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