George was emotionless.
"Hello" was all he said as he shook my hand. No sign of panic, no grimace of pain, definitely no inkling of acceptance. Just nothing.
Charlotte, on the other hand, was not such a good actor. "I'm Jeff," I said as I held out my hand. "Yes. I, ahh... I know," she stammered, her eyes darting back and forth, unable to connect with mine. She was clearly uncomfortable.
"Holy crap!" I thought. "My girlfriend's parents are freaks!"
"Blessed mother of Jesus!" Charlotte thought. "My daughter's boyfriend is a freak!"
"Hmm," George thought. "If the pork chops need to be done by 6, I'd better put them on now."
Nobody looks forward to meeting the "parents" for the first time, but in my case it was especially stressful. My wife (then girlfriend) had prepped me well...
Number one - her parents were extremely conservative and religious. George, in fact, was preparing to be ordained as a deacon and hadn't missed a Sunday communion since his first, in third grade. Charlotte was often mistaken as a nun, due to the way she always wore a navy skirt and light blue shirt buttoned up to the top with a cross around her neck. She was all business and no nonsense.
Number two - her parents adored her old boyfriend, who presented himself well as a clean-cut conservative with a prominent job in the financial sector. It had been assumed for a number of years that she would eventually marry the old chap, and mom and dad were simply just waiting for their little girl to grow up enough to accept his invitation.
But daddy's little girl had other plans. Namely - me.
And there I was. A traveling musician with tri-toned hair down past my shoulders, two large metal earrings and enough stereotypical baggage attached that I might as well have been Ozzy Ozborne on vacation.
"Come on Jeff."
I turned around and George had his jacket on and keys in his hand. "I want you to come with me. I need to go pick up my son on the other side of town."
This wasn't good. Me alone with George - just the two of us stuck together for a half hour in his car. We hadn't known each other five minutes and now he wanted to drag me half way across St. Louis?
Or did he?
(to be continued)