Step 6 – Meeting her friends
Girls in their twenties come with the standard set of eight friends. One is her best friend who knows absolutely everything about her. Five she regularly bumps into and shrieks, “Oh. My. God! I haven’t seen you in ages! We must catch up!” The other two are overweight gays with self-image problems, but who are always up for a bit of shopping and a good old-fashioned gossip.
It is important to win over the best friend, especially if she doesn’t have a boyfriend. Gregoire, a Mauritian expatriate married to Gonda, a butcher’s daughter from Springs in the Free State, told an ex-colleague of a friend of mine that when he first met Gonda at the cherry festival in Ficksburg, she was with her best friend, Ria. They were drinking cider and giggling and pretending to French kiss each other. Gregoire says he fell instantly in love with Ria but when he went over to introduce himself to the two girls, Ria began hissing and snarling at him like some wild territorial animal. Right then and there, he fell in love with Gonda instead. And even though she fell for him too, it was a nightmare dealing with Ria’s jealousy.
Girls use some kind of emotional superglue when they bond, so when one gets a boyfriend and the other doesn’t, there is always a certain amount of blood on the floor. What would often happen is that Gonda and Ria would arrange to see a movie on a Friday night. Then Gregoire would call Gonda at the last minute and Ria would end up alone at home drinking peach schnapps and defacing all the old photographs of her and Gonda. Gregoire always suspected that Ria’s behaviour was rooted in something a little more Sapphic than common or garden jealousy.
On Ria’s 25th birthday he thought he would use the occasion to end the hostilities, so he sent her a card inviting her to spend an hour in bed with Gonda. He hoped this would put an end to the madness once and for all. When Gonda got to hear about Ria’s birthday present, she confronted Gregoire who quickly reassured her that he would be in the room to make sure nobody got hurt. As it turned out, Gonda and Ria became lovers and in a small shop in the south end of Springs, there is a butcher’s blade with Gregoire’s name engraved on it. Except they spelled it incorrectly and called him Griqua.
There are many similar scenarios involving best friends who feel jilted. One of these entails your girl exaggerating your good points in a desperate bid to prove to her best friend that you are not the unscrupulous cad she suspects you to be. This often includes your prowess in bed, but only because it is the one thing that the best friend cannot compete with. Sooner or later, your girl has to leave town for a team-building weekend. “Take Angie to a movie while I’m gone,” she says to you. “Please? She’s all alone. And you two need to bond.”
So when your girl returns on Sunday evening, she is understandably upset to discover two burly men from the fire department stamping out the last of the flames caused by such enthusiastic bonding that the sofa spontaneously combusted.
Remember that her gay friends are important to her, so avoid lisping loudly and flouncing dramatically about the room when she mentions that Brucie’s nervous disorder is getting worse. I am not quite sure why women enjoy having gay friends. None of the men I know are remotely interested in having a bunch of bull dykes around for a game of poker.
I think, in the case of women, it might have something to do with being able to talk to a man without him wanting to whip out his willy within the first five minutes of conversation.
Most women are heavily influenced by their friends. They can swing from Christian to Hindu, from conservative to liberal, from feminist to fuck-bunny, all on the word of a best friend. Most women who fall in love are blind to the faults of their man. The problem is, every time she gets together with her best friend, she grabs your girl by the shoulders and shakes her and says, “But, Janet, don’t you see? He has the moral fibre of a jellyfish! He only wants you for your money/vagina/beach house/car!”
Throughout history, women united have been able to accomplish extraordinary things. Like winning the right to vote and, ah, well, that’s all I can think of right now. But when the lone woman speaks, her voice achieves very little. At most, it might induce a headache in whoever is listening to her, but that’s about it. Keep it that way.
Step 7 – Meeting her family
If you thought her friends were an ordeal, her family will be the ultimate make-or-break test of your relationship. A great poet once said, “They fuck you up, your mum and dad.” Over the years I have often referred to these deeply insightful words to rationalise the aberrant behaviour of women I have known and loved.
Even though you and your girl might not have been together for long, you will have noticed one or two peculiar quirks in her behaviour. We all have them to different degrees. Someone like my good friend, Ted Kascynzki, has quirks that are more pronounced than those found in most people. This does not make him a bad person and I, for one, think that three life terms in a Colorado jail is a little extreme.
But whatever odd mannerisms or strange behaviour you detect in your girl, know one thing. It is all a direct consequence of her upbringing. However, when meeting her father for the first time, it is best to resist the temptation to go up to him and say, “So you’re the sick son of a bitch …” Instead, pretend to treat him with deference and respect. Concentrate on working out the weak links in his psychological armour. Analyse his speech patterns and get to know his thought processes. This will make it easier for you when it comes time to analyse his assets and get to know his tax dodges. Remember, it is not only his daughter you are after. It is also his money. Unfortunately, he knows this long before he even gets to meet you.
Mom: “Honey, Jenny’s bringing her new boyfriend around tonight.”
Dad: “Quick, put on this old sack and roll up the Persians.”
There was a time when the only thing a father had to worry about was his daughter coming home deflowered. Now, they are far more concerned that her callow little bastard boyfriend has his sights set squarely on the family fortune. The deflowering is bound to happen sooner or later, and all those expensive horse-riding lessons have probably taken care of that department, anyway. Today’s father has a way of rationalising things when it comes to weighing up the pros and cons of his daughter losing her virginity or him losing his money.
So, right from the start, be aware that her father will be watching very closely for any signs of ulterior motives. Do not make the mistake of wandering through the lounge picking up works of art and holding them up to the light. And never, ever make the mistake made by Rodney, a former employee of a friend’s ex-boss. When he met his girlfriend’s parents for the first time, he excused himself and went to the bathroom. Her father, on his way to switch the good whisky for a cheaper brand, found Rodney in his bedroom on his knees with a jeweller’s eyepiece screwed into his right socket scrutinising some or other bauble he had bought his wife for Christmas. Rodney couldn’t think of an excuse quickly enough so he said he was an undercover agent attached to the military wing of De Beers and was on a top secret assignment to track down blood diamonds that had been secretly sold by the Sierra Leonean junta to a Swiss cartel of illicit gem dealers operating as a money laundering front to fund America’s war on terror. To his surprise, the father turned the colour of old newspaper and said he was welcome to keep the jewellery and his daughter for as long as he wished.
It is always a good idea to flirt with the mother. Not in front of her daughter, of course. And certainly never in front of her husband. But you can be sure of one thing. Mom hasn’t been flirted with in years and you are the first young buck to walk into the house since the gardener was fired. When nobody else can hear you, tell her that when you first saw her you thought she was the sister. They love that. It doesn’t even matter if your girl does not actually have a sister. It has been so long since Mom received a compliment that she will be like butter in your hands after that. Make sure you wipe your hands afterwards, because dad can recognise mom’s butter from a mile off.
Unless mom is a battered spouse, the odds are that she holds considerable sway when it comes to family opinion. So when you leave after meeting them for the first time, there will be a family conference where everyone gets together to discuss your suitability, in much the same way that great white sharks get together with baby seals to discuss the sustainable utilisation of marine resources. But mom’s opinion will carry the day. If you have done your homework, mom will be on your side. And even if dad is dead set against you having anything more to do with their daughter, mom will sit on her power base until he relents. I guarantee it.
To be continued …