To clarify, over the course of the weekend while my Future-in-Laws stayed with us I was actually faced with many dilemmas, including, but not limited to - will they realize the impetus behind my overly- casual suggestion to have Mimosas with breakfast (or Bloody Mary's...or Bellini's...or a giant glass of future-in-law erasing vodka)?, is it rude to tell them to stop using my laptop computer so I can take five minutes to erase the unsavory sites I have bookmarked?, and do I pretend I didn't just see my Future-Father-in-Law in his underwear or instead do I acknowledge I saw him, but act as though it's no big deal since we will soon be family?
However, this Dilemma was by far the most egregious: I had a wedding-related meeting scheduled for Saturday morning; should I invite my Future-Mother-in-Law? In the underbrush of tulle, manzanita branches, and splayed rose petals that is the jungle of wedding planning, involving my FMIL in the process was by far the most treacherous of decisions. Under each Out of Town Welcome Bag lay an undetonated mine. Involve her too much and my Mother was insulted, involve her too little and I was leaving her out. And one more teensy weensy pitfall: her taste in just about everything is vastly different than mine. (And by "vastly different" I mean to say that she has already offered to create for me a wedding cake made of towels ("you can keep it forever!") and a lockbox of Al Gore-like proportions to put on the sweetheart table for presents (cause nothing says "gifts are not necessary" like a giant slotted mailbox with a padlock on the bride and groom's table).)
All these things aside, I knew that FMIL was dying to be involved. And despite my acute awareness that I was six words away from a speedy zipline to a nuptial swamp of toothy alligators, I found myself saying to her on Friday night (moments after chugging a glass of Chardonnay), "Sure, why don't you join me?" (Count em, there's six.)
And so the next day I found myself sitting at an Italian restaurant in Little Italy to hammer out the final details of the contract for our rehearsal dinner. To a layperson (not versed in my wedding ridiculousness) this might seem like an ordinary meeting. However, this meeting was actually the most extraordinary of meetings. This was the Sylvia Weinstock of meetings, the Mindy Weiss of discussions, the Carolina Herrera of sit-downs. Why was this meeting so special? Because I spent the last four months begging restaurants to host my rehearsal dinner. Since my wedding was on Sunday, the rehearsal fell on a Saturday night. A busy night for restaurants indeed. But this was a special Saturday night. A Saturday night more special than a "7th Heaven" episode.
Thus, I was in a precarious place indeed.
Therefore, this meeting was solely intended to get the restaurant to give us a contract to assure that we would finally have a rehearsal dinner venue. In all honesty I was also personally hopeful that an ancillary result might be my return to a two-Tums-a-day habit (down from the current four to five a day habit - providing me with oodles of calcium, but also a pervasive chalky mouth and a striking resemblance to Marcel Marseau). In essence, we just needed to get the frickin contract.
As we're waiting for the Owner to come to our table to figure out the details, Future Mother in Law starts asking questions. "What will everyone eat?"
"That's what we're here to figure out. I'm sure it will be great." (Simultaneously I found myself thinking that it could be ground pony on Wonder Bread and I still would book this place.)
"What's the owner's name?"
"Uhhh...Joey I think. Joey Goldenberg."
"Joey GOLDENBERG? What kind of name is that? He must be Jewish."
"I don't know if he's Jewish. I think he's Italian. He owns an Italian restaurant. Don't ask him."
"Where's he from? Maybe we know him."
"Don't ask him."
"But maybe we...."
I cut her off in my most patient-Mother-Teresa-slash-axe-murderer-voice: "Honestly, as I told you earlier, we are really lucky that they agreed to let us have the dinner here. I don't want to ask him about his name or anything else. I think our best course of action is to just talk about the food and sign the contract and have this done."
"Okay darling, whatever you want." (If you think Future-Mother-in-Law sounds suspiciously like Mom, that would be because they are cut from the same Jewish mother mold (you can get one yourself if you like - they are available on Avenue J in Brooklyn). And yes, if you are a math wizard, you have just discovered that I will now have not one, but two Jewish moms. Double the tsuris, double the fun.)
So we sit in silence and I think that FMIL has understood the mission. Get the contract.
Joey "I own an Italian restaurant but my last name is" Goldenberg comes over finally and we talk about the details. I don't even care. I just want the contract.
Finally, he pulls out an example of a contract. I give it a cursory glance (caring little whether it asks for payment in Faberge Eggs or gold bullion). He tells us he will go and print out one with our names on it when we're done chatting. Future Mother in Law is trying to peer across the table at it. "Can I see it?"
"NO, NO, NO, NOOOO!" Unfortunately, saying NO in my head did not have the intended effect of stopping her. I slid the paper across the table, giving it good bye kisses with my eyes.
I continued the conversation in my head. "Please do not say anything about the contract. Please." I was sure she could see the words kicking their way through my temples.
The air was heavy with overpriced cappuccino. It was silent. I took deep potentially-caffeinating breaths. Perhaps we would be ok after all. As I opened my mouth to tell Joey that he should go print out our version of the contract, FMIL opened hers first:
"Do we have some wiggle room here? Can you work with us on the price?"
Oy vey. I look wistfully at the bottle of Grappa sitting on the bar.
Joey looked at FMIL like she was crazy. "Nah, we can't do that. You know, it's Valentine's Day. In fact, we really weren't sure we could host this at all cause we're gonna lose so much money..."
As I listened to our rehearsal plans fall apart more quickly than a beginner's hand-rolled tortellini, I jumped in: "Joey, don't worry, about it. We're fine as is. Can we get that contract?"
He looked at me for a second. "How about I send it to you next week, ok? I gotta run now - we have a private event tonight I need to set up for. I'll email it to you - I have your address."
We walked out of the restaurant into the Indian summer sunlight which felt wonderful. Except that we were empty-handed. Which felt less-than-wonderful. Apparently FMIL did not understand the mission after all. I should have explained that when you're in the wedding foxhole, one should not stand up, shout and wave their hands vigorously or one is likely to lose their rehearsal dinner restaurant. Or get shot.