I had no idea when and how to introduce Stephen to my family. He was so excited for that moment, yet I was completely terrified. He’d ask me time and time again, “So when am I meeting them?” “Soon,” I’d say. He’d get so annoyed! I understood his frustration. He wanted to get it over with and had concern that I was hiding him. That was not the case at all. I was just pretty damn nervous. At 17, this was my first time introducing a boyfriend to my family because Mami thought I was just a kid. She always said, “Tu no tienes edad para novio.”
Being the youngest grandchild also didn’t help. So I needed to try extra hard to prove to my familia that I was serious about Stephen. This was not just some puppy love.
After four months of officially dating, and on Thanksgiving to be exact, the day finally arrives. Stephen texts me and tells me that he’s almost there. And I begin to sweat. Everywhere. When he gets there he decides to stand outside my door to prepare himself. Ugh, some help here! I scream internally. Finally, he steps through that door and I smile. Until I realize that Mami is right behind me. I panic. I don’t know what to do with myself. So I get out of the way and watch in amazement as Mami goes in for a hug. Still, I hold my breathe. I know the interrogation is coming. I am sure of it. And I am right.
“So, how did you guys meet?” Mami asks. She asked me the exact question when I first told her about Stephen. She was clearly trying to see if our stories matched.
“We have mutual friends and I’ve had a couple basketball games at her high school,” he responds.
“Oh… okay. When did you first meet each other?” Mami continues, like she’s Barbara Walters.
“In March,” Stephen says.
“So, where do you live, Stephen?”
“By Bruckner Plaza,” he answers.
“Oh… “ She gives me a killer stare. I know exactly what she’s thinking. Stephen lived by an Old Navy and I would often go on spontaneous trips to “the store.” Now she knows where I really spent those hours.
Surprisingly, Mami doesn’t give me a chancletaso right then and there. In fact, Mami is then super nice to Stephen. I expected her to stare him down after that fact.
“So, when am I meeting everyone else?” Stephen asks, making conversation. Before I can answer, Mami suggests we head over to Abuela’s place. Great, more people! I look at Stephen and his face says it all; he wishes he never said anything.
“Who am I meeting at your grandmothers?”
“Well…everyone,” I reply.
Now in front of Abuela’s door, Stephen performs more breathing exercises to relax. When we finally go in I run into my cousin’s room.
“Please don’t embarrass me, don’t make fun of me today!” I plead. Eight of my cousins stare back at me.
I run back outside to Stephen, who doesn’t seem to mind that I abandoned him to warn my cousins. And my cousins, well, when they meet Stephen they heed my warning and are extremely well-behaved, friendly and inclusive. They don’t crack a single joke. But I have a feeling it won’t last long.
Next up are my grandparents and aunts. They hug and kiss Stephen hello and are pleased with the gift he presents to them – chocolate truffles. Abuela pulls me to the side and says, “Se ve como un buen muchacho.” I nod; Stephen is a great man.
Our family ends the night with a game of UNO. And I suck at UNO. Stephen is going to witness my ass whooping. And I am losing drastically. So, of course, they all laugh at my crappy UNO skills, including Stephen. Suddenly, the subject changes from UNO to how hairy my arms are.
“Damn, you’re like a gorilla!” my little cousin Javier shouts.
“Wow, thanks Javi” I respond.
“Haha, It’s true. You’re kind of hairy babe,” Stephen says while laughing his ass off.
I chuckle a little. I am used to everyone picking on me and I notice Stephen is more comfortable around my family because of it. It is like he is part of the family, my family. So, although being called a gorilla is annoying, I am grateful for my cousins jokes. Now Stephen is invited to all family functions and doesn’t even need to meditate beforehand.