By Margie Bailey Rose
My life was humming along with three kids still at home, two in college and one in high school. I liked my job at the continuation high school and was taking college classes myself. I was tentatively dating a nice guy from my work and invited him to dinner at my house to meet my children. My brood was glad I was seeing someone and were on their best behavior. The food was great and the conversation lively. Date seemed to be impressed until #4 announced that she and her boyfriend had put a deposit on an apartment and were moving in the next weekend. There was a stunned silence– #3 reached for his water glass and knocked it over. The water ran through the crack between the table leaves and right into the nice guy's lap– ice water. Should I mop it up? No, I didn't know him that well. With a few napkins on the tablecloth and a towel in date's lap we tried to get the mood back.
Everyone bombarded #4 and her boyfriend with questions about the apartment and they said they had also purchased a bed that would be delivered. Number 4 was only twenty and just finishing her second year of college and holding down a job as well. I thought the boyfriend was perfect for her but moving in together did not sound like a good idea to me. I pictured a succession of such relationships and feared health issues that are prevalent these days. Boyfriend would soon be getting out of the Navy and looking for a job; would daughter be paying all of the rent? My head spun with foreboding pictures of her future while I carried on in my usual life-of-the-party way.
Then it came to me; the perfect plan. I announced that it made me very happy to know that I would not have to pay for the fairy-tale wedding #4 had dreamed of all her life. "You know the rule," I reminded them, "If you live with someone you pay for your own wedding." (I never said anything remotely like that prior to that moment, and you could see the siblings racking their memories.) There were some sputtered protests, but it sounded pretty reasonable and like something I might have said. Everyone fell silent, pondering private thoughts, and dinner was over.
My date made a hasty retreat and did not call the next day, but there was a call to my work from my daughter. She said that she and boyfriend would like to talk to me when I got home. When I came in I asked why they weren't moving, and they seemed about to burst with excitement. Together they announced they were not moving out and instead had decided to get married! What had I done? A life-long plan won out over playing house.
You are all welcome to use my ploy if you can afford the price of a medium-nice wedding.
PS: My date did not ask me out again, and I eventually changed jobs to get away from awkward conversations with him. He wouldn't have held up in our family anyway.