January 21, 2009

Welcome to the Family?

Print More

Everyone has his or her faults. I certainly have mine. Lord knows, you have a slew of your own — don’t think going to Cornell erases them, if anything, it exacerbates them. The figurative cracks in everyone’s armor, though, define who and what they are — for better or for worse — while simultaneously making them human. I find that it is not the flawed multitudes that are the most disagreeable, but those few devoid of apparent “issues” or psychoses.
Lately I have been thinking a good deal about the content of individuals’ character. No, not because Monday was Martin Luther King Day, or because yesterday Obama effectively ended racism in America when he was sworn in, but because my sister Alexandra is newly engaged.
“To whom?” you ask.
“I don’t fucking know,” I reply.
The elder of my two sisters, 26, began dating her fiancé roughly a year ago. I initially didn’t think much of it, and when after only three months of seeing one another John left Connecticut to hike the entire Appalachian Trail, I presumed that their relationship was doomed. Well, I was wrong: they kept in touch, she visited him, he returned, they dated further, he proposed, she said “yes.”
This all happened so quickly that neither I nor my other sister Caroline had met John before the engagement. I had been abroad in Italy and then at school in Ithaca, and Caroline lives and works out of state; neither of us was prepared to give our blessing before we sized him up.
I knew that Alexandra and John had discussed getting married this upcoming summer, which seemed inappropriately soon, but I brushed it off believing that it was simply love-induced blather. I knew that talk had escalated to action, though, when my sister unexpectedly called me the week before Thanksgiving.
“Guess what?!” she excitedly blurted before I even said “hello.” I cringed.
“…..you got your hair did?” I replied fully knowing what she was about to declare.
“I’m engaged!” [long pause]
“Oh, reaaalllly?” I replied, poorly feigning excitement, “That’s nice… good for you. So you are looking forward to having a long, long engagement then?”
No, why would you say that?
Oh, you know, just wondering… [really awkward pause]
Call me crazy, but I don’t think an individual (read: my beloved sister) should just rush into marrying a stranger. However, I decided to politely withhold judgment or public opposition until I met John at our families’ joint Thanksgiving dinner. And when we did finally meet, he was, well, rather boring: no previous marriages, no babies or baby mamas around town, financially sound, owned a home, polite, he even could cook. He appeared so put together, too put together. What could he be hiding? Why the rush? I needed to know and so did Caroline.
We later discussed hiring a personal investigator, but then realized that Alexandra would disown us if we were found out — much like Lilly did to Bart Bass on Gossip Girl. Then, in our duress, we decided on a less productive route — we let free our imaginations over a few bottles of wine. From that session some of our future brother-in-law’s hypothetical secrets are:
-He adopts kittens from various Humane Societies and then systematically drowns them.
-Because he is a practicing Christian, he won’t seal the deal until they are married, which explains his hurry to wed and serves also as a convenient way to conceal his dysformed genitalia before they are committed.
-He is substantially in debt and want to marry before she becomes aware.
-He is a polygamist and intends to surprise my sister with that news after the wedding when it is revealed that his rather young looking “aunts” are, in fact, his other wives.
-He is an immigrant blessed with surprisingly good English looking for a Green Card.
-In his unfounded rush to have her commit to him, he has been punching holes in their condoms in hopes to further her hand by impregnation. With arrangements already made it will not seem like a “shotgun wedding.”
-He is like Benjamin Button and needs to procreate before he goes through reverse puberty and cannot produce semen.
-He is gay looking for a beard.
No matter how realistic and probable Caroline and my hypothetical situations are, Alexandra won’t consider any of them. She reassures us that everything is “fine,” and that she knows John is marriage material, regardless of her siblings’ apprehensions…which then leads me to believe she might have been brainwashed.
Well, if I have learned anything from my mother it is that you cannot tell a hardheaded Portuguese woman to do anything she doesn’t want to do. My sister might only be half Portuguese, but stubbornness is clearly a dominant gene.
Part of me wishes that I knew now what John’s actual faults are — he is, after all, human (I hope). The possibility of the unknown is too disquieting. It would be a hell of a lot easier knowing that John were a recovering alcoholic before he wed Alexandra, than to be surprised with the news that he is a pedophile after their second child.
In the end, though, you must allow people to make their own mistakes — and hope that their seemingly perfect fiancés don’t smother them when they are sleeping.