When you’re visiting your significant other’s family for the first time, you’re never sure how to picture the sleeping arrangements. Will you be in separate rooms? Or on separate floors?
When my Chinese-American boyfriend took me to his parents’ house in Oahu, he led me to a room with a double bed. And dropped his bags on the floor.
I held onto mine. “Your parents are okay with us sleeping in here together?”
Andy laughed so hard he snorted. “I can’t believe you’d even ask that after what my dad said in the car.” (See Blog #2 for embarrassing details.)
I heaved my suitcase onto the bed. “I thought it was a joke, not a suggestion about our sex life.”
“My parents are looking out for me.”
Andy’s dad entered the room. Jay handed us each a stack of photos – pictures of us coming down the airport escalator, wearing leis, and listening to Sunny. The images were fuzzy screen grabs from the video he’d shot at the airport instead of hugging his son or shaking my hand.
I went for enthusiasm. “Thanks, Jay! Theses are really nice pictures, and very sweet…”
Jay left the room.
“…of you,” I finished lamely. I waved a picture at Andy. “So. Is this how your father communicates? What is he saying? Is he telling me I look fat?” I flipped through the photos again. “He didn’t draw mustaches on me or anything. That’s a good sign, right?”
“I don’t know. He’s never done this before. But I never brought home a girlfriend before.”
“Don’t you have any idea what it means?”
“It means he has a new video camera and he’s showing it off.”
“No. He’s had that thing for years.”
I set the pictures down and flopped on the bed next to Andy. “What now?”
“We’ll go to dinner in an hour.”
“Where? Chinese?” Maybe Jay would be so impressed with my mad chopstick skills he would say something complimentary. Or just, you know, say something.
Andy shook his head. “Dim Sum is a lunch thing. Probably tomorrow.”
“Is your brother coming?”
“Of course. Free food.”
“Where does he live?”
“Really? I thought he was still in school.”
Andy laughed. “Not the house next door.” He hit the wall next to the bed. Three seconds later, someone on the other side of the wall knocked back.
I hopped off the bed. “Your brother is here? And you didn’t even say hi to him yet?”
“His door was closed.”
“So…you — and your brother –lived at home while you are at college?”
Andy shot me an incredulous look. “And my sister, too. Why would we pay for room and board?”
“Your parents must be a lot nicer than mine,” I told him. “My dad told us if we were in the house after age 18, we were paying rent.” I hopped off the bed. “However, your empty dating browser begins to make more sense. Let’s go meet your brother.”
Denny was about seven years younger than Andy, finishing up his last year at UH. And I immediately got why he kept his door closed. Posters of supermodels plastered the walls. All white, all topless. A few bottomless.
I tried to keep a genuine smile plastered on my face. I was about as successful as the poster girls.
Denny was at a desk working on a computer. His Japanese-American girlfriend Claire sat on the bed. She, at least, had her clothes on. Claire also seemed very nice, and utterly oblivious to the nudity around her. Introductions were made, pleasantries expressed, all while I tried not to gawk at the massive display of boobage in the room. Denny and Andy showed their brotherly bond by nodding at each other and grunting, “S’up.”
Then they both looked at me. So did Claire. I asked her what she was studying. I don’t remember what she answered. I asked Denny what he was studying.
“Computer Science,” he answered.
I gestured at the walls. “Not anatomy?”
Andy didn’t even try to muffle his bark of laughter. Denny and Claire said nothing, only stared at me in excellent inscrutable Asian fashion.
I turned to Andy. “Do we not talk about the pornography?”
Andy asked Denny, “Where are we going for dinner?”
Stilted conversation regarding dinner plans ensued. Apparently we did not talk about the pornography. Well, they didn’t. I couldn’t let it go. As the brothers talked, I leaned into Claire and waved at a black-and-white bondage shot. “Doesn’t this bother you at all?”
Claire smiled slightly. “Why should it? It’s not like he’s ever going to get any of that.”
Andy hustled me out of the room before I could get on my objectification of women soapbox. Barely. It bothered me that the posters didn’t bother Andy. I told him so.
Andy just shrugged. “He’s been collecting them for years.”
“There weren’t any hand-me-downs from you in that collection, were there?”
“Of course not.” Andy hugged me. “My porn was in magazine form, stashed under the mattress. Like any normal boy.”
“It’s not still there, is it?”
Thankfully, Andy shook his head. Because I didn’t want to see anymore pictures.