Congratulations on dating our son/daughter. Rest assured your sweetheart is the culmination of generations of only the finest natural selection, with the exception of a brief period in the late 1800s that no one in the family likes to talk about. But as Great-Great-Uncle Walston used to say, “Let’s let bygones be penguins.”
In the coming days, you will be arriving at our home for the first time to meet us, your boyfriend/girlfriend’s parents. Welcome! To make this important rite of passage as pleasant as possible, we encourage you to review the following information. After all, an auk may be a bird, but add a “word” and it’s “awkward.” Ha-ha-ha! Of course? Yes! So let’s go ahead.
- We have four cats and a dog. We trust that’s not a problem. Don’t let that be a problem.
- We are aware there are cobwebs in some of the corners of the ceiling. We prefer not to mention them and suggest you do likewise.
- That light switch doesn’t do anything.
- Please inform us if you have any allergies: cat hair, food, cat hair on food.
- We reserve the right to refer to you as “the suitor.”
- You will find that throughout the house several piles of clever and/or important novels have been distributed upon surfaces in an ostensibly casual but clearly self-conscious manner. The purpose of this is twofold: 1) to determine whether you a) are well-read b) enjoy reading c) can read; and 2) to demonstrate how cool we are, because as important as it is for us to like you, we really want you to like us. Like, wouldn’t it be neat if we hit it off and could have long chats about Haruki Murakami or the vintage Brian Eno that just happens to be playing in the background? Wouldn’t it be great if, later on, you said to our son/daughter, “Your parents – especially your dad – are really cool and hip”?*
- We keep the thermostat at a brisk 17 degrees Celsius. This is our way of sticking it to Big Oil, although we end up being somewhat beholden to Big Sweater. Bring slippers.
- You might not want to sit there.
- Or there.
- We don’t always flush the toilet. Don’t be alarmed. When we do flush it, however, sometimes a cat will come running, so excited about the fresh drinking water. It’s not mandatory but you should totally try it.
- Remember how cool and hip we are? It will be no surprise, then, that we are respectful of your privacy as young adults and will allow you to make whatever sleeping arrangements you’re comfortable with, bearing in mind that it is a small house, we are light sleepers and please don’t do anything.**
- At some point during your stay, you may find yourself alone with one or the other parent. Be aware that, despite the outward charade (which we pronounce “sha-rawd”) your boyfriend/girlfriend’s parents are socially inept and at this point will likely have covered all the basic points regarding family, geography and area of study/work. That’s it. Nothing left in the tank. It’s all up to you now. This might be where one of those books lying around comes in handy. Other safe topics:
- How weird are feet?
- Look how fat your cats are, but in an endearing, not-at-all offensive way!
- The Toronto Raptors’ motto “We The North”: is it the verb “are” that’s missing or would a comma suffice?
- Five-syllable words that make me feel diabolical.
- Ways in which I won’t disrespect your daughter/son.
- Doing the dishes equals big brownie points. If you want to tackle those cobwebs also, who are we to stop you?
- At some point during your stay, the conversation will turn to he aforementioned toilets and the usage thereof. This is who we are; don’t be fooled by the clever books. How you participate in this conversation (appalled, amused, engaged but not so engaged as to be disturbing, etc.) will be observed and discussed in great detail after you leave.
- Please understand that if we make fun of you, it means we like you.
- We’re not big huggers.
*The maternal half of the parental welcoming group would like to point out that none of this was her idea, and that in fact she knew nothing about these desperate cries for acceptance, though really she’s not surprised. And the Brian Eno playlist? It was sent to him by a friend three weeks ago.