Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: IN-LAWS (07/11/19)
- TITLE: Why I Changed My Order to Tuna
By Donna Powers
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I'll admit I hesitated, at first. Henry's a terrific guy. He’s got a job with the family business and he’s on the church’s Board of Trustees. In other words: the kind of guy that Christian moms tell their daughters to pray for. But the passion I’d expected to feel for a prospective husband just isn't there. I like Henry, and the life we'd have together seems ideal. So, I told myself I was a fool to look for something that probably only exists in fairy tales.
So I said “yes.” And, little by little, I convinced myself Henry must be my soulmate. I told myself this is what true love was meant to be.
Last week, he told me he wanted me to meet his family. “Your future ‘in-laws’,” he reminded me.
As we drove there I prayed I'd measure up to whatever his family might be expecting. Since Henry seems like the Perfect Christian Boyfriend, I wondered if they'd be the Perfect Christian Family.
Well ... almost.
Henry's mother is lovely: apple-cheeked, welcoming and gracious. His father is hearty and avuncular. His sister Hannah is adorable.
But then there was Henry's brother: Hugh. One look and I realized's is the proverbial Black Sheep. At all my dates with Henry - even for outings as casual as a picnic - Henry always wears a tie. Henry’s family was similarly dressed to impress today. But Hugh wore a pair of torn jeans, a faded T-shirt and a pair of sneakers. His haircut looks like it's been hacked by hedge clippers.
I learned Hugh had given up his claim on the family business and made his living doing lawn maintenance. It became clear no matter how puzzled Hugh’s family was about Hugh’s choices; Hugh has decided to be Hugh.
I shrugged and reminded myself no family is perfect. Hugh's non-conformity really has very little to do with me and Henry and our perfectly proper future life. So, I kept my face neutral and sat as close to Henry as possible. That afternoon, we all sat in the backyard, sipping iced tea and discussing conventional topics, while Hugh got up from time to time and tended the plants. He'd join the conversation sporadically - but his mind was obviously on the plants.
When we all went out for dinner, I once again wondered how Hugh could be so oblivious to the disparity of his appearance and personality. But whenever I stole a glance at him, all I saw was his incandescent smile.
You see, Hugh's smile is ... something else.
Now, I've always liked Henry’s smile. It's warm and friendly. But I’ve wondered, for a long time; why Henry's smile seems to stop at his mouth. I'd always felt the potential joy in Henry’s inner spirit is kept under wraps: as if allowing it free reign might disrupt some standard of Henry-ness. I'll admit: it bugs me.
But, Hugh’s smile holds no such restraint. Hugh’s joy not only spills out from his smile, it shines from his eyes. It seems to leap from each freckle on his face. It radiates from his handshake and ruffles his ragged hair. Hugh's joy seems to send an electric charge through the air, and it mads me so inexplicably uncomfortable I wanted to dive into Henry’s car and speed back home.
The evening went on. Just as he always did, Henry ordered a medium-rare steak for both of us. His parents ordered the same thing, and even Hannah ordered a steak burger. But, without a moment's hesitation, Hugh ordered a tuna fish sandwich. No one from the family said a word, so tuna must be par for Hugh's course. Once again, Hugh was being Hugh.
So, here we are at dinner, picking up where we left off with the conventional conversation we began this afternoon. And while I (honestly! ) think I'd enjoy my perfectly prepared steak dinner, I couldn't help but realize I was inexplicably craving a tuna fish sandwich.
Or maybe even... (Lord help me!) a tuna fish life?
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