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One evening a couple of years ago we had two nice young men (college age, more or less) over for dinner. They were dressed up in suit and tie, if I recall correctly, and had very nice manners. We’ve had one of them over quite a few times and he’s by way of being something of a family friend (no, no, no, just a friend). He is a scholarly sort of fellow, kind, mild-mannered, thoughtful, studious.
In the middle of the dinner the Boy opened his mouth to ask me something, and was as surprised as anybody when a loud, obnoxious belch issued forth instead. He giggled. He looked at my best Miss Manners Disapproves Of You face and laughed outright. The rest of the table remained silent, and all eyes were on me to see my reaction.
“Son,” I said, glaring painfully at him, “This is Not. Funny.”
I was glaring painfully because I was biting the inside of my cheek hard so that I would not laugh. He tried valiantly to stop laughing, but he couldn’t. I realized that I was going to lose all credibility with him because clearly to him it was funny and for me to tell him it was not was something like if I tried to tell him that the sun did not shine in the daytime.
I remembered something I had read before about manners actually being largely a question of discernment and properly judging time and place. I wanted my boy to behave well in polite company, but I didn’t want him to learn to purse his lips and glare in disapproval if some boy in a circle of boys happened to belch.
So I tried to explain.
“You are in the bosom of your family which includes several young ladies and your mother. We have well behaved dinner guests. It is a company dinner. When you are in front of ladies and company belching is not funny, it is rude and disgraceful behavior. However,” I conceded, “if you were with a group of all guys, say out in the woods around a campfire and you belched, then perhaps- “
I was interrupted by one of our well-mannered, civilized, nicely suited and betied young male guests, “THEN,” he continued for me, “It would be HILARIOUS!”
I stared helplessly at the table as nearly everybody collapsed into laughter. I looked at my life-partner, my soul mate, the husband of my youth, his head thrown back in raucous laughter. We all have these moments when we look at the man of our dreams and realize that he is a completely foreign and alien species.
This is one of the many reasons children need two parents, one of each gender.
I thought I was going to die today. I don’t mean maybe, and I don’t mean for just a second. I mean the entire way from the 50th floor down. When I started down from 50, I thought to myself, please, God, just let me make it to 45. When I got to 45, I thought if I can just get to 40 before it hits I have a chance. I did this over and over again until I got to he 1st floor.
And for why? For this.
As of Friday night, late, under a full moon, with the scent of lilacs and other sweet things wafting through the air, near a gently chuckling brook while on bended knee, Strider proposed.*
The proposal was obviously accepted, and the happy couple are engaged.=)
School’s out, homework’s done, Real Life begins, and we haven’t seen our girl so relaxed and happy in several years. Even as we are ‘losing’ her, we have the old HG back. He makes her very, very happy. We understand she does the same for him.=) (He calls his mother and I the Conspirators).
They are like the missing pieces to one another’s puzzle, and it’s a giddily happy group of people here amongst the two families.
*This is pretty much exactly what happened, but the HG objects to my phraseology as sappy and purple prose. Nevertheless, she permitted me to leave it in there.