We knew when we moved to Pennsylvania to get this business off the ground that there would come a time when we would have to interact on a a social level with the Leid family. Last Friday, at precisely 5:30 PM, that time had arrived. Nearly a month into our stay here, we were invited to dinner at their home. Our impending social engagement caused more than just a little bit of anxiety for me.
George Leid, and his family, for that matter, are more than just our current employers. They have basically been our benefactors for the past 5 years; helping us through some pretty tough times. I am extremely grateful to them for all they've done for us. I wanted to go their home and have dinner and conversations with them to show that appreciation, but the anticipation of the night had me in near cardiac arrest.
What to bring for the hostess? Clearly not wine, even though I desperately needed a glass or two or three to take the edge off. What to wear? These ladies bring new meaning to the word conservative. What if one (or all) of my kids act up? I was bracing myself for a culture clash of epic proportions, but it really wasn't that bad.
We showed up promptly at 5:30; in case you're wondering, I made Blondies and Brownies, and I wore jeans, because that's all I brought with me to PA, with my most modest shirt. Dinner was coming out of the oven, so we sat down, bowed our heads during their blessing and ate. Or, at least, I ate.
I am a big believer of "When in Rome...." I didn't check my silverware before I used it. I tried not to think too much about the cleaning habits of the women who prepared the meal. I just dug into my meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls, and jam with reckless abandon.
Will flat out refused, so I discreetly went to the diaper bag to retrieve the chicken nuggets I had brought him "just in case". Brett, his OCD clearly more severe than mine, had some trouble. He attempted to mask his lack of appetite by caring for Sammy, who was a bit wiggly.
Reflecting upon it later, Brett claimed he was drooling to hold back puke, "I don't even like to think that I put that in my mouth" he says of dinner. I've had worse. I might have even made worse once or twice.
Let me point out a few of the things that I did find peculiar. They all ate with spoons. There were forks on the table, but they didn't touch theirs. No napkins provided. Not a one in sight. Completely bizarre to me. Only water to drink. I had them pegged for unpasteurized goat's milk all the way. And, although I wasn't surprised, it was really strange for me to see just how strictly they adhere to their gender roles. Marion and the girls were responsible for the preparation, serving, and cleaning up of the meal. Typically in my house, if I cook, I don't clean.
After dinner was finished, we were treated to an a capella version of Amazing Grace in perfect 4 part harmony. I think it was the EP version, because no shit I think they sang like 5 verses. Who knew? At a certain point, I did have to choke back some inappropriate laughter (a nervous habit which is getting much worse as I age). Then, the men retired to their little section of the house to discuss the days' events.
I would ordinarily have joined in the post dinner conversation, but here I felt awkward, not invited. I respect this family on may levels, but I am really struggling to "play the part", if you will. It's not my intention to insult anyone, but at the same time, I think that insincerity would be even more insulting, so while I try to be respectful, I'm not going to hide my hair under a handkerchief, or wear a 3 piece, long sleeved dress. And I will not ever, under any circumstances, make it seem like I even remotely approve of arranged marriage. Restraint is not, and has never been, my strong suite. I think the reason I am able to bite my tongue nearly half as much as I am is because of Brett. It's very clear that in this culture, the man is the ruler of the family. I could give two shits what they think of me, but I love Brett, and I don't ever want to put him in the position of having to defend me or himself. So, I held back.
Good thing, too, because the shit that they were spewing might have sent me over the edge. It started with a sermon on "The Family Destroyer" aka television, followed up with a brief dissertation on the evils of organized sports.
And then, around 7:15, a beautiful thing happened. The babies started to fuss. Divine intervention? Perhaps. The result of a clever mother's plan to not nap her twins in the afternoon? More likely.
I rule this family.