This weekend I had a rather disconcerting experience...
One minute my father in law and I are having the best conversation in the seven years we've known each other. After years of intelligent conversations punctuated by hardliner conservative lectures (from him, not me), we had finally discovered middle ground. In other words, he agreed that global warming was not necessarily a lie crafted by the Democrats and I conceded that Al Gore was creepy. It had been a long struggle, but at last we saw each other as equals, as worthy debating opponents, and perhaps even friends. Baby, I had come a long way from the time he used to constantly call me "little girl" and ask me to "go fetch beer". Things were good. We had even discovered we had similar economic policies. And in his words... "we were thinking alike"....
At this moment I smile, knowing that we finally understand each other. That he sees independent, self-assured women with familes and careers can exist, and that au contraire to his previous proclamations, not all women were insane, self-absorbed, unalterably domestic psychopaths.
Visions of singing "kumbayah" while skipping hand-in-hand are dancing in my head-- and then in an instant, the veil draws once more. His lips are curled in a clever smile, years of military intelligence training dripping from every word he is about to utter (albeit sloppily since he's clearly several drinks past sober). He calculatingly draws two fingers to hips lips, making a "V". His tongue laps at them, his eyes attempting to read my expression-- which is blank. He continues this for several seconds, punctuating his motion with, "eh, eh?" and raised eyebrows.
Life Tourist What??
Father in Law C'mon, you know what I'm asking.
F.I.L Who else?
F.I.L C'mon, admit it.
L.T. But I'm not!
F.I.L. It's obvious... and anyway, it's okay. You can trust me. Quentin already told me everything...
I don't know how I'm supposed to react. I knew Quentin hadn't "told him anything" since, quite frankly, there was nothing to tell. Albeit I did go to a liberal arts college and was known to wear Birkenstock for a brief period, but this did not a lesbian make (no matter what the Conservative Right might otherwise suggest).
This entire time, I can feel my father in law, sizing me up, trying to look for any sign on my face that might betray my "true" sexuality. Instead, I smile as I'm wont to do in the many surreal moments of my life.
"I'm married," I reply blankly, amazed at the conversation that is taking place. He raises an eyebrow once more at my "lame alibi". "I have a daughter... you know? Your granddaughter.
"That doesn't mean anything..." he replies soberly, my denial only "confirming" his suspicions. Now I begin searching his face, hoping to see some sign that he's joking. But to a die-hard social conservative it is simply unfathomable that a working mother, feminist, and a wearer of sensible shoes is anything other than a lesbian.
In my more naive days (five minutes before this painful conversation), I truly believed with all my heart that, since my father-in-law seemed to hold some affection for me, I would serve as a counter-model to his negative perception of women. But alas, instead of bending his world view to make room for little old Life Tourist, he instead drew the only conclusion that could possible keep him from having to reassess...well... his entire treatment of the female gender.
Thus could my marriage to his son only be a sham, and as for my daughter--- well, he wasn't going to rule out the turkey baster method.
And then, as quickly as it surfaced, the conversation ended. Most likely due to the fact that my husband had re-entered the room. As the night resumed, my sardonic smile was the only evidence that it had ever taken place at all. It was only as the evening drew to a close that my father in law was compelled to blurt once more.
"Goodnight guys, I can't wait to see my little granddaughter tomorrow. She's so sweet and precious! I love her so much and I always will... even if she doesn't turn out straight" Sigh.