As I’ve mentioned in numerous posts before this, the last guy I dated before I met my boyfriend was my cousin’s best friend, Rich.
At first, our relationship was shrouded in mystery – bot just because we weren’t keen on telling Chris but because we didn’t know we were dating. Our interaction was very much casual in nature – a lot of late night “what are you doing?” texts and drunken hookup protocol. But, as time progressed, we became something more. So much more that Rich uttered the seven words all girls hope to one day hear, “I’d like you to meet my parents.”
I’d actually just begun to doze off but I was wide awake now, “What?!” I gasped.
“My parents,” he laughed, “they want to meet you.”
“Moi?” I asked, slyly.
“Yeah you, asshole.” he said, tickling me, “I, uh, told them…”
“Aww,” I teased, trying to get a handle on my excitement, “aren’t you cute! I wish I had known so I could’ve given you my school pin.”
“Har, har,” he smiled, rolling his eyes, “you want to meet them or not?”
“Of course I’ll meet them!” I said, smiling back, “Maybe afterwards we can go all the way?”
“Why wait?” he smiled.
“So,” Lillian started, leaning in close to me, “tonight’s the big night, huh?”
“Yes, yes,” I said, shooing her out of my way, “it’s tonight and I’m a nervous wreck!”
“Is that why you’ve been fucking up lattes all day?” Joanna laughed.
“No!” I protested.
“What’s happening tonight anyway?” Joanna asked.
“She’s meeting her boyfriend’s parents.” Lillian interrupted.
“Ugh! As if!” I protested, slapping her shoulder lightly, “Rich isn’t my boyfriend.”
“Then who is he?” Lillian asked.
“He is…just a guy I occasionally see naked?”
“Then why are you meeting his parents?” Joanna mused.
“Because he asked me to, of course!”
“Sounds like a boyfriend thing to ask.” Lillian giggled.
“You guys fucking suck!” I declared, before storming off into the stock room.
“Aww, Lauren,” Lillian laughed, “lighten up! We’re only teasing.”
“I know,” I sighed, getting more grande cups, “I’m just nervous.”
“Why? They’re going to love you! Plus all you’re doing is saying hello and…”
“Actually,” I said, “I may have left out one little detail…”
“We’re sort of…having dinner at his parents’ house.”
“WHAT?!” she screamed, “That’s huge!”
“I knooooooooow. That’s why I didn’t want to make a big deal about it in case he changed his mind or something.”
“Aw, Lauren, you must really like him!” Lillian said excitedly.
“I think I do.” I sighed, begrudgingly, “I think I might even…no, I’m not going to go there.”
“So what are you going to wear?”
“I don’t know! I was going to head to the mall after work and pick something up real quick. Want to come?”
“Umm…only hell yeah!”
Lillian and I ventured to the mall following one of the busiest and intense shifts we’d ever seen.
“I’m starving.” Lillian moaned as we gunned it past the food court.
“Pull it together, dude – we’re on a mission!”
“Ugh – how are you not hungry – you didn’t take a break either!”
“I know but I can’t eat now – Rich’s mom is cooking tonight. I’ve got to save my appetite.”
Lillian and I found a vintage-inspired red and white polka dot dotted sleeveless dress on sale at J. Crew for $39.99 – a steal if I ever saw one. I returned home, exhausted, my head aching from work and my stomach about to eat itself out of sheer hunger.
I began rummaging through the cupboards – in desperate need for a snack when…I saw it. The beautiful blue and orange box that housed my favorite food in the whole wide world – Kraft macaroni and cheese.
Now, for those of you who don’t know me, my love for cheese is greater than my love for finding a $20 in the dryer. I eat it when I’m happy or sad, in sickness and in health…it is my soul mate.
I boiled the water, waited patiently, and began my favorite part of cooking mac and cheese – stirring. As I watched the pale pasta turn the nicest shade of orange, I leaned over the pot and took in the aroma. GOD I LOVE MAC AND CHEESE! I ate the whole box (a regular size…not family size, come on!) and went upstairs with warm mac and cheese belly.
I showered, perfumed – tried on my brand spankin new dress before I was presented with a dilemma…heels or flats? So, I picked up the phone and called Lillian.
“Hey!” she said, cheerfully. “What’s up?”
“Nothing – just wondering if I should wear heels or not.”
“I’d go with heels – I mean, it’s not like you’re going to be walking around or anything so why not look stylish.”
“Ah, how correct you are.” I sighed.
“You almost ready to go?”
“Yeah I just finished having some macaroni and cheese and I’m about to leave.”
“Macaroni and cheese? I thought you were having dinner…?” Lillian asked puzzled.
I hung up the phone and rushed downstairs to the kitchen thinking, That didn’t just happen – I didn’t just eat an entire box of macaroni and cheese. But when I looked in the garbage…there it was – that cursed blue and orange box that had left me feeling so happy and full was staring me right in the face.
As I ran to the bathroom in search of a popsicle stick my phone rang – my alarm…if I didn’t leave now I was surely going to be late.
It’s okay, I thought as I made my way out of the house and into the car, we probably won’t eat right away. I should be hungry by the time we actually eat.
Rich’s parents and his two brothers (who I had met on multiple occasions) greeted me with open arms and warm smiles. Rich’s mother took the bottle of wine I had brought and ushered me over to the table, “Oh, Lauren, you shouldn’t have. We’ll open this straight away! Everyone sit down and dig in!”
I felt my stomach lurch as I took my seat next to Rich and bore witness to the buffet before me – baked ziti, chicken parmesan, salad, tomato and fresh mozzarella, bread and tons and tons of sauce. There wasn’t an empty space on the table.
I took a deep breath and took a small piece of everything – arranging everything on my plate so as to give the illusion of being full.
“Now, Lauren,” Rich’s mother began, “do tell us all about how you and Rich met.”
I proceeded to tell Rich’s family the story of how we had recently gotten back in touch while complimenting her cooking and slowly nibbling away at my food. Rich’s brothers had already demolished their plates and were moving in for seconds with his eldest brother, James, took a look at my plate.
“No wonder Rich digs ya,” he laughed, nudging Rich, “you’re just as skinny as he is! Come on, let’s put a little more on that plate!” he said, pouring some more ziti onto my plate.
“Oh no,” I laughed nervously, “I couldn’t possibly eat another bite.”
“What do you have an eating disorder? Eat up, girl. You need to put some meat on your bones!” James continued.
“Oh you stop it James!” Rich’s mother snapped, “Don’t be shy honey – no need for that here. You eat as much as you like.”
As I laid eyes on the mountain of pasta before me, I could hear my stomach screaming, “Please no more!” but then something happened. Rich placed his hand on mine, leaned in, kissed me on the cheek and said, “Don’t be so nervous, you’re doing fine. My mom has never been more excited to meet someone her whole life.”
So I took a deep breath, pushed my fork through the ziti and took another bite of Rich’s mother’s famous baked ziti…but something terrible was brewing below the surface. As soon as I swallowed, I felt a grumble in my stomach and felt a cramp of epic proportions. A bubble had formed within and was slowly making its way up my throat and into my mouth and I knew what was about to happen.
My eyes attempted to search for the bathroom but it was too late…I threw up all over the beautiful meal Rich’s mother had prepared – in the sauce, all over the chicken, on the salad…it was everywhere. But it wasn’t over. I rose from the table and ran to the bathroom located at the far end of the kitchen for dear life, closing the door just in time.
I could hear the sound of Rich and his family following suit, Rich pounding on the door, “Lauren! Are you okay?!”
“Oh the poor dear.” Rich’s mother sighed.
“How did you know she had an eating disorder?” Chris, Rich’s younger brother asked.
“You idiots!” Rich’s father screamed, “She is obviously sick. Start cleaning that mess.”
A few moments passed before Rich entered the bathroom and began rubbing my face with a damp washcloth. “Jesus, Lauren, are you okay?”
“No,” I cried, “I ruined everything. Your mom probably hates my guts and your brothers think I’m bulimic.”
“Don’t worry about them,” he laughed, brushing the hair out of my face, “and my mother doesn’t hate you. She actually likes you a lot.”
“Even though I threw up?”
“Even though you threw up.” he laughed, kissing me on the forehead. “I don’t get why you didn’t just tell me you were sick. We could have made it another night.”
“Oh my god,” I sighed, “I’m not sick! I ate a box of macaroni and cheese ten minutes before I got here and I was hoping there would be more time before dinner but…”
“Lauren! You could’ve said you weren’t hungry.” he laughed, tears coming from his eyes, “It wouldn’t have been a big deal. Why did you keep on eating?”
“Because I didn’t want to be rude! And because…I fucking like you okay?”
“Well, I like you too. Wash your face and brush your teeth so I can kiss you when you come out you nut!”
Rich left the bathroom and his mother gave me some dessert to take home since I pretty much ruined dinner. She said it was a pleasure to meet me and I would have to come back some time soon once I got better and promised she would make macaroni and cheese.