This Christmas was the first one that Eand I spent together. He met my family in Florida, and I flew to Arkansas to meet his. Both trips went well. My parents thought he was great, and my Mom loved the box of Godiva he bought her.
But my Dad asked a pretty basic question after E had left. “How did you two meet?”
My brother (bless his heart) had broken the news to my Mom pretty early on in our relationship. I got a phone call, “Did you meet E on a website?” she asked. “Robert told me that you met him on a website.”
Robert, my brother, had read about how we met when I wrote about the experience for The Underenlightened. I hadn’t really planned to tell my parents about it, and I always thought that if it came up, I’d invent a story. “We met through mutual friends,” was what I’d originally told my Mom. So, imagine her surprise when she’d heard this wild tale from my brother… right?
“Yes, we met online,” I said. I was caught, and I didn’t want to lie to her.
“Was the website called ‘Desperate Women’?” she laughed. My Mom obviously had opinions about online dating, and what doing it said about you as a person.
She wasn’t the only one who had opinions, of course. Even my best friends, people who were my age, told me I’d end up dead or part of a Dateline story. You know, fun stuff like that. Sometimes it made me feel bad, but mostly I just ignored them. Plenty of people online date, it just still has a crazy stigma attached to it.
I thought I’d gotten over the biggest hurdles with it. It still comes up every now and then when we meet new people and they ask how we met. But mostly, I thought we had all that under control.
Until my Dad asked the pointed question: “How did you two meet?”
I had always figured that if my brother told my Mom, then surely he’d told my Dad. And if he hadn’t told my Dad, then my Mom would have. It was such an innocent question, but it really took me by surprise that he didn’t already know the answer. We were at our kitchen table, and the TV was blaring loudly in the background.
“We met online,” I said.
“On what?” he asked. I didn’t know if he hadn’t actually heard me, or didn’t want to hear what I’d said.
“We met online,” I repeated. “I’m a modern lady.” I tried to joke. He heard me that time around.
“You did?” he said. His eyes were wide like saucers.
“Yup. All the kids are doing it.”
My Dad stood up from the table, and wandered aimlessly toward our couch. I could tell that he was surprised I’d met E online. He’d probably expected a much more common answer. “We met at a party.” “Our friends introduced us.” “I was writing in a coffee shop, and he asked me for my number.” But the truth is, I never met guys at parties, as all of my male friends skew gay. And the only guy who ever asked for my number in a coffee shop turned out to not have a cell phone and made me split the bill.
“Which website?” he asked. I think he wanted to know which site so that he could sort out the kind of person E was.
“OkCupid,” I said. He didn’t know what the site was, but he repeated it to himself. Like he needed to hear it out loud again.
My Dad shook his head, and wandered upstairs. He never told me what he thought about how we met. Or if he thinks it’s odd. I may never know, as I suspect he won’t ask about it again. But I got the distinct feeling that he never considered we’d met online, even thought most of my life is online. Talking about how E and I met with my Dad felt more awkward than any other conversation we’ve ever had. But I suppose once you rip that bandaid off, you’ll never have to address it again. I hope?
Has anyone else had to deal with a family convo that was THE MOST AWKWARD THING EVER?! Or is this just my lot in life?!