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there's snow other way.



I'll start this post off by making an announcement that many of you are aware of, something us expats can't help but sharing with you all; it's been snowing all weekend in Paris and it has been absolutely magical! Even though today brings us what we call in the States, a "wintery mix". All cities are beautiful when they're sprinkled with snowflakes, and surely Paris is not an exception.

Aside from the snow, something else magical happened last weekend, something that has been long overdue, something I have been anticipating on for almost two years! No, I still haven't perfected the art of the effortless Parisian scarf knot...

What did happen was that my mother finally met the first installment of my future French in-laws!

When my mom informed me that she had another Paris trip, with the rush of the holidays long over, I insisted on a drive out to the country for lunch to meet my new family. The idea of us waiting until our wedding day that is looming, for them to all meet seemed a little strange. Can you imagine it? "Hi, nice to meet you, we're family now." Too weird. There was no other way than to organize a meeting.

My disco shower-owning, British rock-loving, theme party-throwing, costume enthusiast future father-in-law Gilles and his second wife Françoise aren't what you'd call your typical French in-laws. Françoise can usually be found clad in head-to-toe leopard print, waist-cinching belts and thigh-high boots. Her big red hair is always perfectly Bardot coiffed and a menthol Vogue cigarette is never too far from her reach. Gilles who documents his daily outfits on Facebook and has been toying with the idea to start outfit blog has a penchant for vintage collectibles, vinyl records and photography coffee table books portraying naked woman. Just to give you an idea...

In a rented limited edition bright orange Saxo car that was designed by the Bic Pen company, the three of us with our to-go Starbucks lattes and muffins, set out on a mini road trip to Fontainebleau to meet the parents. 

"It looks just like Olympia!" my said comparing the capital of Washington to the French countryside, before adding, "but you know, more French!" And with her declaration, she snapped a photo with her digital camera à la Marissa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny.

With the slippery roads, we arrived later than expected, and pulled into the driveway to find Gilles and Françoise peeking out the window waiting for us. My mother took this as a cue to repeatedly shout "Bonjour"...at her closed window. Trotting through the snow in her leggings and Uggs, Gilles and Françoise who were now in the yard got attacked with hugs and more bonjours from my mother. To thank them for hosting us, she offered them a bottle of champagne and a tin box of that read Americana Chocolata, filled with milk chocolates in the shape of American monuments like the Liberty Bell and Mount Rushmore. 

Françoise and Gilles took my mother on full tour of the house, something that I have found to be somewhat of an expectation here in France when invited into someone's home. While it does happen in the States, it's certainly not obligatory. We hopped from room to room, with my mother's voice resonating and bouncing off the walls of their cottage. I was waiting to hear her response on Françoise's nudie self-portraits in the bedroom, but sadly I didn't. After a long flight when she's not wearing her glasses, her vision is blurry and she unfortunately missed out on the coquettish photo shoot of Françoise prancing naked in the garden that we had just walked through. 

It wasn't until they showed my mom their costume room that my mom understood that this was going to be a unique visit. Françoise pulled out a beaded beige lace shoulder shrug before confessing to my mother that she wears it around the house without a top. My mother gave her an affirming "You go girl! You wild thing, you!" and wiggled her hips. This ended up turning into the theme for the rest of the afternoon. Several moments throughout the meal, my mom went from a Long Island mother to finger snapping sista encouraging Françoise to do her thang. So embarrassing.

Halfway through lunch and several bottles of wine later, my mother urgently needed to share something with Gilles and Françoise who were taking a mid-meal smoke break in the living room. My mother joined them with a manilla envelope she retrieved from her purse. The mysterious envelope contained photos of me as child on Brighton Beach in Coney Island....topless. She claims it was a coincidence that I appear half-naked in most of the photos, something I'm sure would be illegal today. To be perfectly honest, the photos were not at all cute. I look constipated in a handful of them. I hated the beach as a kid and would retaliate by pouting...apparently topless.

Unfortunately this wasn't the only embarrassing photo moment we encountered. On top of humiliating me, she likes to share photos of our house. Second to looking at over a hundred photos of your co-workers vacation with their friends whom you've never met, I couldn't think of something more boring than flipping through a ton of photos of someone's house. Unless the house was designed by like Frank Lloyd Wright. Handing over the camera to Françoise and Gilles to allow them freely flip (or rather skip) through the photos, they came across a photo of me and my brother. "He is quite handsome," they said nodding in approval at the photo, "You two look a lot alike!" 

That is something that I have never heard in my entire life. My brother and I look nothing alike and we've have often accused my mother of adopting him and or having an affair with some blonde viking - that's just how different he looks from us.

With my curiosity piqued, I leaned over the table to see the photo in question. Much to my horror, they weren't looking at a picture of me and my brother. They were looking at a picture of me and the dark hair and dark-eyed MF - my first French fiancé. Merde!

Suddenly my mother's two-snaps up routine was less embarrassing, and I wanted nothing more than to go back to that.

My mom still doesn't know how to transfer photos onto her computer or delete photos, despite the step by step PowerPoint presentation I made for her, and these are the consequences.

Moving on from the unexpected presence of MF and before diving into the cheese course, we all dispersed to different corners of the house. Françoise and I looked through her extensive costume jewelry collection, Aurelien was outside shoveling a path from the front door to the driveway, and my mom was helping Gilles tidy up in the kitchen. 

Or so we thought.

When we all heard a loud scream in the kitchen, we learned that those two were up to something else. We walked in to find my mother hovering over Gilles with an ice cube and a needle telling him to hold still. "What are you doing?" I asked, completely confused with the scene. "Oh, the hole in Gilles left ear closed up, so I'm just re-piercing it." my mother responded with a smile before going back to work and easing the needle through his ear. Normal. But really, why wouldn't my mother be piercing the ear of my future father-in-law on their first meeting?

After Aurelien and I presented our parents with their invitations to the wedding, over maccarons and pink crément, we discussed the actual details of our upcoming wedding. After talking it out with our parents who even after several glasses of wine had a very clear vision on how it would all work out, it occurred to me that I was being silly to stress out about the costs. Everyone is going to help out as much as they can, and we're not trying to pass off our simple albeit lovely and creative wedding as it was a grand black-tie gala. Once everything was on paper and the costs divided up, it felt manageable. I'm sure now that we're going to put something really special together.

The first meeting of the parents well swimmingly well (piercings and ex-fiancé photos and all). I can only now imagine the mayhem that will ensue at the actual wedding. I really can't wait, this is going to be good...

28 comments:

  1. What a day! I'm so excited to meet your mother & Seb's parents too. You've painted such vivid pics of them over the past year that it will just be too exciting. Anyways, I think it was a great idea that you all met beforehand because my parents didn't meet P's parents until 2 days before. And, P's mom & dad actually saw each other for the first time in THIRTY-FIVE years at our rehearsal dinner. Madame Tootell was very excited to discover that she was no longer in love with him... 35 yrs later. So this day was a good idea and can you please make sure your mom does her two snap routine at the wedding? x

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    1. Wow! What a story! Your MIL wasn't sure if she was still in love with P's dad? That's intense. It must have been one hell of a divorce. I don't even know her and I too am glad that she's still not holding out hope. There's nothing worse than holding a flame for someone.

      When you see all of them, you will KNOW. Especially Françoise. I just saw pictures of what she wore to Seb's sister's wedding a few years ago. Love her.

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  2. sounds like your Mom can handle just about anything so meeting the in-laws was a cake walk.

    They sound like a hoot...much better than the cliched version of french inlaws..all uptight and vous'ing you all the time...

    what month is the big day?

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    1. Yes, I agree, they are much better than the cliched French in-laws. Like the ones in the film 'La Divorce'. How horrible where they?? I'm lucky to have such a wacky family to be marrying into.

      We're getting married early May. : )

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  3. Sounds great! You should get Gilles a roxy music record on vinyl for his birthday, it would bring together several of his interests! (Good music too)

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    1. He really likes Brian Eno, so I'm pretty sure he has Roxy Music. I'll look into it though. His birthday is next week and the theme of the party is "rock n' roll". It could be a perfect gift! Thanks, Gwan!

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  4. Seb's folks sound so cool, of course they got along with your cool mom!
    At some point I pictured scenes from "My Fat Greek Wedding" or some Italian movie.
    You're lucky to have people this 'eccentric' around you, they are much more interesting and fun than some so called 'normal' people, no?
    Your wedding is going to be cool, cool, cool. (Sorry for overusing this word on my comment, hahaha, just love it)

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    1. I love the word cool. Overuse away! His parents are very cool and made me feel comfortable from the start. Going out to their house is one of my favorite things to do in France. I'm so happy that my mom was able to experience this and that they got to experience her, because she's also quite a trip!

      Thanks Sylvia! The wedding will be a lot of fun. I can just feel it!

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  5. I've said it before and I'll say it again: your mom's a riot!:)

    Ahhhhhh the never-ending house, kids or travel pictures... Why do people do that?

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    1. Hahahaha isn't she? She always entertains. She makes me look like an uptight wall flower!

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  6. What a day!! Ah that's so great that the wedding seems manageable now, I can't wait to hear all about it!

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    1. Thanks Edna! You know me, there will be tons of photos online! I'll put together a nice batch of photos for the blog (not too many because that TOO could be boring!) : )

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  7. No more stressing over the wedding budget? Does this mean the soon to be madame is back up to her bottle a night rations? If so, when you having me over for dinner? Hugs!!! And congrats on the perfectly appropriate meeting of the parental units.

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    1. You know what, I'm really enjoying this major cutback of wine that I think I'm going to continue, at least for today (I heard somewhere, one day at a time...). I have so much more energy and I wake up early sans alarm clock. This units business was a great suggestion. Thanks, Sylvia!

      ps - I want to host something at my house, I just need to by more kitchen supplies. I'm still missing a lot of things and still need to decorate! I'm thinking an early spring brunch could be fun! : )

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  8. I'm so happy to hear that your mom got to meet Seb's folks before the wedding; I'm not surprised that they hit it off so well! Piercing in the kitchen; ha! Talk about bonding. I agree with the above commenter- French families are known to be a bit more formal (it's also what I've experienced 1st-hand) so, I love that they are so much fun!

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    1. Thanks Dana! Yes, I'm lucky to have such cool future-in-laws. I could adapt to a more formal family but it's so much better that I don't have to!

      Yeah, the piercing episode was insane! That's actually not the first time I caught my mom doing that. She's so weird!

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  9. Well at least you can't say that they weren't immediately comfortable with each other. I'm guessing not too many future in-laws try to pierce each other on the first meeting! :) Love it... what an absolute riot.

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    1. It was incredible how comfortable they all were, and attempting each others languages was hysterical. Especially my mom with "her French". She wants to say a speech in French at the wedding and my in-laws were encouraging her...I on the other hand, am not.

      Thanks for your comment, Heather!

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  10. I laughed all the way through the post. It's like having parental soul-mates, everyone gets on so well. Thank you for another fun post to read.

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    1. Priscilla! Your comment from the post before was sent to my spam, that's why it didn't show up. You went to Evergreen?! How crazy! I don't know anyone who went there!! What program were you in and did you live on campus? I'm so excited about this!!

      Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I certainly enjoying living through it. I never laughed so hard in my life!

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  11. ROFL, love it, sounds like the most entertaining visit, and you must share if the future FIL starts his blog!

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    1. Thanks Katy! It really was entertaining! I'm glad I was able to accurately paint the picture for you all.

      If he starts a blog, I will ABSOLUTELY share it with everyone. He takes his daily outfits very seriously!

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  12. Hilarious!....Well hearing about both your parents it would seem you and Seb are made for each other!....really looking forward to this wedding. What a hoot it will be!

    You paint wonderful pictures with your words.

    Love Denise

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    1. Thank you so much Denise! I'm glad that you're able to visualize it through the post. I sometimes worry about that; if I'm conveying the story on a global level, not just notes in my head. Good to know that it's the former. : )

      The wedding will certainly be a hoot, because we're going more casual, it relieves a lot of the stress that brides bestow on themselves.

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  13. It all has a very Wes Anderson-like vibe to it.
    From now on, please film all occasions where your mother and your in-laws are together. Please. It's for prosperity.x.

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    1. Whoa, Wes Anderson...how very, very cool. Unfortunately we're more 'Everybody Loves Raymond' than 'Royal Tennenbaums'. It's still fun to pretend we're as hip as them though. Thanks for making me feel cool this morning! : )

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  14. Oh man that sounds like such a fun day!
    I've found that in France I often don't get a tour of the home... and I'm super curious about how people set up their homes so I'm jealous of your experiences!

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  15. This is fantastic - as Sara Louise said above, very Wes Anderson. I see a reality show in the making :) This sounds like the best mother/in-law combo one could hope for - I'm jealous!

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