There comes a day in every straight woman’s life when they must play the role of “girlfriend” for their gay friends. Sometimes, a woman is an active participant in aforementioned farce, and other times she is not. I’ve had the pleasure of playing both roles many times.
Many, many, many, times.
Last Sunday, I forwent brunch with all of the boys and trekked to Middle Village, Queens to visit Daniel’s parents for Sunday pasta.
I know, I know, CARBS. Sometimes, a girl’s gotta take a hit for her gays. I’ve marched in the parades, emailed congressman, and…
I’ve attended so many HRC events that Michael suggested that instead of using it’s actual name, Human Rights Campaign, they should rename it in my honor by calling it Hags Really Care.
So a little penne and gravy (what Daniel’s family calls tomato sauce) wouldn’t kill me. But the conversation almost did.
Daniel’s parents are off the boat from Italy. Is that politically incorrect to say? His mother, Clara, never left the kitchen the entire I was there and mumbled things under her breath every two or three minutes. While Daniel’s father, Andrea, stewed on the couch watching the Italian channel, RAI. All he did was bark orders at Clara from the kitchen:
“Clara, bring me some wine!” “Are we ever going to eat? Where’s the goddamn food? I’m hungry. Bring me the prosciutto.” This explained Clara’s inaudible mumblings.
I think Andrea was just angry because this extremely macho “man’s man” had a woman’s name at least in the United States. I, of course, made it a point to emphasize the American pronunciation of his name just to piss him off. This didn’t go over with Daniel.
“My father just said to me in Italian that he thought you were a real bitch,” he said to me in a whisper.
“If he weren’t your father, I’d tell him to go finger-bang himself until he got hemorrhoids,” I said just loud enough so ANdrea heard me.
Daniel looked as though he were about to throw up. I grabbed his hand and then kissed his cheek to give them something in the cheap seats. As my lips pressed against him, I thought, If his parents only knew that Daniel had a more rigorous skin care regiment than me.
As we sat on the couch, I pretended to know what the hell was going on in some ridiculous Italian game show. By all accounts, we looked like an actual couple, we held hands publicly and bitched at each other through gritted teeth privately.
This was a family that barely spoke. Our entire first course was in silence. I hummed a few times to make sure I hadn’t spontaneously gone deaf. And the humming? Didn’t go over well.
I’ve seen a nicer reception from the Westboro Church at Gay Pride.
Finally while eating a hot bowl of pasta (heaven!), Andrea asked me about my job as a publicist. After about ten awkward minutes of explaining about the life of a publicist and what it is that I do, he was frustrated and confused. I hadn’t sold it well. Perhaps because I wasn’t quite sure what the hell I was doing at my job. I hadn’t been particularly excited about my career as of late. The only saving grace in that office is Mia. But more on her later. Who knows. Maybe it was time for a career change? But at my age, what the hell was I going to do?
I felt like the American version of Bridget Jones, except with much better hair and teeth than the original British one.
We finished the rest of our meal with only a handful of polite pleasantries. I smiled and tried to engage his parents in conversation as best as I could, but I was flailing. About an hour later, Daniel and I were on our way back to the city. Thank you Jesus.
I began to feel tremendously guilty as though I’d failed in my acting job and could have somehow screwed things up for Daniel. I had let him down and that was the last thing I wanted.
About fifteen minutes into the car ride back, Daniel said: “Thank you so much for doing this Farrah. That was amazing!”
A bit dumbfounded, I squirmed in my seat and said, “I’m sorry, but we were at the same dinner?”
“Yes!” he said excitedly.
“Why in God’s name are you so happy? That was horrendously bad Daniel.”
“I know. Isn’t it great?”
“Um, I thought the point was for me to pretend that I was your girlfriend to keep up the whole ‘your straight’ thing.”
“Yes, but they actually disliked you SO MUCH that they never once brought up marriage. They’ll never pressure me to get married as long as they think we’re together. This is like Christmas morning. But better. Could you die?”
Yes, actually I could.