I know that someday you'll find better things.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

"You'll love her!"

“You’ll love her!”  and “You know who you remind me of?” are two of my least-favorite phrases. Why is it that when someone tells me this, something dark and ugly inside of me interprets it as a challenge?

Yeah, we’ll just see about that, I think.

When Mia’s dad and I started dating, he was eager to introduce me to his best friend. Elvis was a laidback artist-musician who worked at the beer factory and played Frisbee-golf like a pro. He was very cool and very likable, and it was easy to see why they’d been best friends since the dinosaur-drawing days of second grade.

It wasn’t long before the boys wanted to introduce me to Elvis’s girlfriend. “You’ll love her. You two have so much in common. It’ll be great!” Mia’s dad gushed. You could tell from the excitement in his voice that he and Elvis thought we’d be the four amigos for the rest of our lives.

In the sparkle of his eyes, I saw our future:
Super Bowl parties and weekend getaways.
Holidays and camping trips.
Playdates with our current dogs and our future children.

There were a lot of hopes hanging on this impending introduction, I could tell.
The budding friendship was drooping with them.

On the way over there, he was giddy with enthusiasm.
“Priscilla’s a teacher, too—a great one! Maybe she could give you some advice.”
I was elbow-deep in student teaching and loving every minute of it.
But I was doing a good job.
Everybody said so.

Self-doubt tiptoed into my heart.
Did he think I needed her advice?
Maybe people just said I was doing a good job to be polite.
Maybe I wasn’t very good at all…

“Oh, and just wait until you taste Priscilla’s cooking. She is so talented. I bet she could give you some great recipes!” At that, my pride twitched again, and I felt the remaining scraps of my confidence and optimism for this friendship fly out the car window.

He continued the incessant chatter. I wished he would stop talking. How else would he ever hear the little voice inside of him—hopefully—telling him to shut up?

I reminded myself that I had to meet her before I could decide to dislike her, so I held my tongue for the rest of the drive to their house.

To the casual onlooker, it may have appeared that we hit it off famously, but my words and facial expressions were far from sincere.

To his credit, his description of Priscilla was accurate. The skills were legitimate. I think it was the delivery that was rubbing me the wrong way. Everything she said had a condescending edge to it. The emotional sensation was somewhat like rubbing a balloon against a cat’s fur.

The air was electric, and I was ready to pop.

Upon each subsequent visit, the tension inside me grew. My patience for pretending was quickly diminishing.  When I could no longer convincingly fake it through the visit, I knew it was time for a new survival strategy.

So, I became conveniently too busy for social gatherings, cheerfully seeking out other obligations that could conflict with visiting them. Not many dentists and hair salons have nighttime appointments on Saturdays and Sundays, so I had to throw myself into obsessing about teaching responsibilities and feign fluster.

This proved to be a shortsighted decision, as now it gave off the general impression that I really would benefit from her advice and wisdom.

When I’d made my sixth or maybe sixteenth consecutive gracious-but-firm excuse, Mia’s dad finally confronted me.

“You don’t like Priscilla, do you?” he asked. What was that tone? Gentleness, or disappointment?

I avoided eye contact and stalled.
“Um… You see… Well…”

But it was now or never. He’d asked, right?
“You know what? I don’t. She’s bossy. She’s know-it-all-y. She drives me crazy! So no, I don’t like her,” I spat out, because the words even tasted bitter. So much for sweet honesty.

“Well,” he countered, “I do like her. In fact, I love her.”

Normally the idea of someone’s mouth gaping in shock seems cartoonish, but that is exactly what happened at that moment. My jaw literally dropped open in stunned surprise.

Since I was speechless, he kept going.

“She can be bossy. She can be a know- it-all about stuff. She drives me crazy too, sometimes.”

Why were we arguing then?

“But I love her,” he said evenly, “because she loves my best friend. She has stood by him through some really hard times. She loves him, and she treats him well, and she makes him so incredibly happy. As long as she loves him, I’m going to love her.”

He turned and walked away.

That was twelve years ago. I didn’t know what to say then.
Still don’t.
There’s the obvious. He was right. I was wrong. “You’ll love her” wasn’t intended to be a challenge, it was a request, I think.

A classy person would have realized this and honored it.
I didn’t. I couldn’t.

I really hope Mia’s dad’s new wife realizes it and honors it. She is lovely, and I am being so sincere about this. I hope she loves Priscilla and Elvis the way I couldn’t, because I’m pretty sure they love her just for loving their best friend.

1 comment:

  1. Often times the phrase "you'll love her" has had exactly the opposite effect on me as well.
    I don't think we should introduce people we love to other people we love by saying "you'll love him/her". Its perfectly okay for our friends to not like each other or our significant others to not like our friends. They don't have to live with them, we do. And as long as we find that do-able, then its okay.