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Compartment 14B

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The name of the movie is just a coincidence.

2005-12-28 - 7:45 p.m.

Back to the midwife we went today and my blood pressure has fallen to a more-than-respectable 120 over 65. So, fluke? Or has my dealing with the family Christmas insanity actually been more restful than going to work?

J’s gone to a hockey game with his family and I, mercifully, have managed to beg off, citing late-pregnancy tiredness. I’m not that much of a hockey fan.

An informal poll amongst the more prone-to-skepticism of my family has yielded mixed reviews of Spider’s boyfriend (who henceforth shall be known as Jack, after the character in Nightmare before Christmas – did I mention he’s 6’4”, skinny, and kind of Goth?), or I suppose I should say fiancé. Yes, that’s right. Three weeks before Christmas she’s “fallen in love” and wants to bring the guy home to meet us. Two weeks before Christmas they’re moving in together and saving to buy a house. One week before Christmas I hear through the grapevine that Spider has just dumped a different guy she’d been dating for the last four months. Christmas Eve she introduces Jack as her boyfriend but over the course of the evening admits to J and I that they’re “thinking about” getting rings and plan to have kids eventually. Christmas afternoon she introduces him to Mom as her boyfriend, but then the same evening introduces him to J’s father as her fiancé. When my mother comes out with a shocked “Whaaaat? You never told us that!” my sister was all blasé, “Yes I did.”

For the record? I was there the whole time and she did not.

I’m happy for Spider because she does indeed seem to be very happy – and I’m happy for the rest of us because it was probably the most pleasant visit with her we’ve had in years – but it does seem to be kind of a weird-ish situation. They’re going fast in some respects, but in others I see some heel marks. For instance, in the car ride to the bus station at the end of the visit Spider was chastising Jack in a sing-song, cajoling way about how he’d promised to take her to meet his mother, who didn’t know about her yet. Here’s the thing though, he sees his mother weekly and she lives near them (i.e., in Toronto). Why would he not have told his mother about these plans even before my family heard about them? Why not actually tell my family in an announcement kind of way, instead of by way of an off-the-cuff introduction to someone she’s only met once before?

And why, if you’re going to the home of your fiancé for the first time and want to start off on the right foot, would you not bring at least some small offering for the hostess? J’s dad brought some homemade shortbread and Bobby brought two bottles of wine, and neither of them stayed the night or want to marry a family member, or have so much (if anything) invested in making a good impression.

Even a shy person might want to at least make an effort to say the right things, no? I would have thought that most people would say something along the lines of, “So good to meet you…” or “I’ve been looking forward to meeting you after Spider has said such good things about you…” or “Thank you for having me over the holidays…” That sort of thing. And there was no, “Dinner was delicious…” or “Thank you for the gifts, you certainly didn’t have to…” or “I’m looking forward to seeing you again soon.” Nothing like that was forthcoming.

The weekend was rife with small things that underlined how fresh this situation was, like Spider declaring she didn’t like tea and Jack didn’t either, only to be corrected by Jack quietly letting her know that, in fact, he does like tea, and drinks it often. Granted, it might not have come up because Spider, as a tea-hater, probably wouldn’t have it in her house, but it’s just the example that comes to mind.

Still, rough around the edges or not, once Jack did get more at ease I found he actually joined in the conversation from time-to-time, and he and J even found that they had a common love of things mechanical which fueled much discussion during the ride home. I did find that I liked Jack better each day I saw him. And, even though the whole thing seems rushed (I just got an email saying they’ve set a tentative date in mid-October), I really, truly hope that it all works out. The most important thing to me is that Spider is, and remains, happy and that the guy is someone who will be good to her. Granted, her track record so far has not been hard for Jack to beat (she has had a string of relationships with emotionally-unavailable freeloaders who take advantage of her), but I do think he’s a cut above his predecessors and I have hope for him.

My fingers are crossed for them.

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