Sunday, January 16, 2011

First Impressions

First Impressions

When I first started dating my wife, she told me she had a sister.  I didn’t believe her.  I would come to pick her up at her house, and no sister was to be found.  Her sister was very shy at the time and would hide upstairs when I would come over to get Barbara.

A few months later, Barbara’s parents invited me to accompany them to dinner at the Marcel Diner in Flushing.  Lo and behold, Barbara did have a sister.  Her name is Terri and she is 5 years younger than my wife, which made her 14 at the time.

We all sat down and ordered dinner.  Terri ordered Veal Parmigiana.  The meal came, and the Veal Parmigiana was served in a metal dish (that’s how it was cooked in the oven).  You were expected to take the Veal, spaghetti and sauce out of the metal dish and put it on a regular dish before eating it.

Terri was wearing a white dress.  Disaster waiting to happen. 

Terri attempted to transfer her food out of the metal dish to the regular dish by tipping it over into the regular dish.  Unfortunately she tipped it towards herself and a little too far.  The veal, spaghetti and sauce spilled onto her dress and into her lap.

It was pretty funny, kind of like a comedy sketch.  For once, I kept my mouth shut and did not collapse with laughter.  Terri was mortified.  Not only was she shy, but this was the first time she had actually met me.

The waiter brought a new dish and we all continued eating.

The ice was broken.  I now saw her when I picked up Barbara for a date or stayed for dinner at their house.  She even spoke.

About a year later, Terri was at my mother’s house.  She had come with Barbara and we were sitting around the table with my parents, sister, and one of my friends, Bob.

Bob and I had made jello parfaits and we all sat around eating them.  We made some alcoholic drinks and Terri tried one.

After a while, we all had coffee and cake. 

While we were sitting around drinking the coffee, we all noticed something odd about Terri.

She wasn’t talking and had a glassy expression.  Her eyes were drooping and eventually closed.  Her head started slowly tilting forward, lower and lower until eventually her nose was in the coffee.  She had passed out from the one drink.

We thought it best to get her nose out of the coffee (it would have been hard to explain if we allowed her to drown in her own coffee), revived her and eventually took her home.

I believe it was this impression that caused Bob to fall in love with her and eventually marry her.  I could be wrong, but that’s what I think.  She made quite the impression on him that night.

When Barbara and I first met, she didn’t like me at all.  We were both freshman and in the same Hygiene Class.  She worked hard, did all the assignments and readings and got a B. 

I did nothing, was loud and she claims obnoxious in class and got a B.  It still pisses her off to this day that we got the same grade.  The whole grade was based on a department wide test. I‘m good at test taking.

She often brings up her first impression of me and feels that she should have followed her instincts before getting involved with me for the next 43 years.  She’s probably right.

The best first impression is when Barbara met my family for the first time.  She was coming over to dinner at my aunt’s apartment.

Now Barbara comes from a very quiet family.  Very little shouting, arguing or tumult in their house (hard to believe they are Jewish). 

We are the opposite.

Barbara was prepped by her mother to eat anything put on her plate and go along with whatever was going on.  “Be polite and make a good impression,” her mother said.

We got to the front door.

My sister, shy girl that she is, opened the door in a towel.  She had just gotten out of the shower. 

Needless to say, this would never have happened in Barbara’s house.

Next came my aunt, who Barbara mistakenly took for my mother.   That got straightened out and we saw my mother trying to cook something in the kitchen.

She got introduced to my mother and father and we eventually sat down to eat.

My mother was serving steak.  As she was bringing Barbara’s plate to the table, she got distracted and the steak slid off the plate and onto the floor in plain sight of everyone.

My mother calmly picked it up, dusted it off and served it.  The 5 second rule was being applied.  For those unfamiliar with the 5 second rule (there are variations on the time), if something falls on the floor and is retrieved within 5 seconds, no germs have adhered and it is safe to serve.

Barbara, while horrified (she didn’t know the 5 second rule) dutifully ate her steak as instructed by her mother.

The meal concluded with cake and coffee. 

Now my mother felt it was wasteful to use more than one spoon to put sugar in the coffee or tea.  Everyone was instructed not to stir their coffee until everyone had put in their portion of sugar, using the one spoon that was passed from one to the other.  Only then, was it allowed to be used for stirring.

Again, Barbara had never encountered anything like this, but went along when informed of the rule.

There was a lot of noise, tumult and general chaos.

Afterward, we all went for a walk.

My father pulled Barbara aside and said; “If you’re going to survive in this family, you’d better have a sense of humor”

Barbara says that’s the best advice she ever got.

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