For the first year of our marriage, my husband and I lived in my parents’ house in Arlington, Virginia. They were living in Korea at the time, and during that year, they made a couple of trips back home. On one of their return visits, we went to the airport to pick them up. Their flight was arriving late at night and we imagined they would be exhausted after their brutally long trans-Pacific flight. We figured we would bring them back home and that they would spend the next 24 hours in a deep, coma-like sleep.
They came through the gates with a man we did not recognize. This in and of itself was not particularly surprising. My parents were always springing this sort of thing on us. Throughout my childhood, strangers drifted in and out of our lives all the time. Some people collect tchotchkes, my parents collect people. Our family was large, and we lived in a cramped house. As the smallest daughter, I would always be the one who would have to share my twin bed with the visitors when they happened to be women. It wasn’t particularly comfortable to sleep in bed with a stranger, especially since I could speak no Korean, and they usually spoke no English, but it was all part of the landscape of my childhood.
It was around 11 pm once we got everyone’s luggage and were finally on the road. As we drove back to the house, I brought up the question of sleeping arrangements with my mother.
“Oh, we’re not staying!” she said, as if this should have been the most obvious thing in the world, “We’re driving to Tennessee as soon as we get back to the house. We have some business there.”
I looked at her with blank incomprehension. “Hunh?” was all I could stupidly muster.
I knew they were crazy, but this? This was beyond the pale. Surely, she was so tired, so delirious, that she was simply talking nonsense.
As soon as we arrived, they hopped out of the car and transferred the luggage to the back of their own car. At their behest, we’d driven it around the block periodically while they were away to keep it running. It was then that I realized they really and truly did mean to drive for ten hours after just stepping off a nineteen hour flight. I pleaded with them to see reason.
“But that’s crazy! You can’t be serious! It’s dangerous to drive when you’re so tired! Why can’t you sleep for just one night and then go? I’m sure your friend doesn’t want to sit in a car for another ten hours after flying for an entire day either.”
“He can sleep in the car!” my mom said.
“Well, what about poor DAD?! How’s HE going to manage all of that driving all by himself?! I’m sure he’s exhausted!”
“Oh, don’t worry about me, Adrienne. I’ll be fine!” my dad said with exasperating nonchalance.
“Well…when are you coming back?!” I asked, completely frustrated by these two utterly irresponsible, unreasonable parents of mine.
“In a couple of days,” they said. “We’ll see you some time on Friday!”
I watched them drive away, wishing I could spank them.
The next night, around 2 am, I woke up to violent pounding on our front door and the doorbell being rung over and over again. Terrified and trembling, I shook my husband awake.
“Someone’s at the door!” I whispered, “You have to go see what’s happening!”
I cowered in bed, my heart thumping, ready to dial 911. My husband shambled out of bed, still half-asleep and clad only in a pair of boxers. He swung open the door to discover my parents grinning like a couple of Cheshire cats on the doorstep, waiting to be let into the house. (Have I mentioned that they don’t believe in carrying keys)?
“We decided to come back early!” they announced cheerfully, politely pretending that they didn’t notice the fact that my husband was standing before them, nearly naked. This, by the way, is just one of the many reasons that man and I are bonded for life…We’ve both experienced the trauma of having been seen by each other’s parents naked! To be honest, I think it was actually more painful for me than it was for him that my parents saw him naked. But I digress…
Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of Giving Thanks for Crazy!