A few Sundays back I was scheduled to go on a blind date. She is really into Ramen, so we were going to meet up for dinner.
My phone at 8am on Sunday. It was my mum. Telling me that she was cooking a dinner for my birthday that night.
I said, 'Sorry Mum, I can't. I'm meeting up with someone tonight.'
'Bring them too,' she said.
And that is how I ended up going on a first date to a family dinner.
Of course the date itself was a mixture of horrifying and hilarious - mainly horrifying. But I was very impressed that Lucy would entertain a family dinner on a first date. The first girl I ever online dated was also called Lucy - I asked if she wanted to come to a yoga class. Yoga date is a good one. Relaxing, right? And a bit out of the ordinary. That Lucy wanted to go to a bar.
I spent the car ride there trying to school her on my family. I told her my brother asks a lot of questions. Instead he basically insulted her as soon as she walked through the door. My five year-old nephew is a lot of trouble - he tried to look up her dress/was lying under her chair during dessert. My brothers & their wives went home, and my parents disappeared.
Family birthday dinners have been a thing in my family since forever - however I don't get along with my family that well, so I have to balance my love of dinners with the hope that no one will say anything to make me wish I'd stayed at home. They've made me feel shit about myself more times than they've made me feel great. At my fam birthday dinner last year, my middle aged sister-in-law asked my age? in a slightly derisive tone. When I replied my brother said, 'I had a kid by that age!'
I have a theory that bringing a stranger into the minefield of a family dinner would make everyone behave better. But it just made me wonder what my sister-in-law was thinking, instead of hearing it.
I know I'm lucky to have a family, or to have people cook for me. I don't want to be brat by complaining about it. Even if they tell you to cancel your plans for it.
Taking Lucy to family dinner began as a joke. But like a lot of jokes, there's a serious truth. My birthday present was to have someone else there.