Meeting the Boyfriend’s…Spinach

spinach, diningWe’ve seen all sorts of movies and stories about the horror of a boyfriend meeting the parents.

But what about a viewpoint from the other side?

I vividly recall when my man and I met our daughter’s boyfriend for the first time. She was so particular throughout most of her 20’s that a guy never made it to the stage of meeting us. But now, she’s invited us to meet someone over drinks and pasta.

My guy is inordinately nervous and drives into the city too fast and too distracted as he asks “what if we don’t like him?”Quincy Market, Boston, dining

“Of course we’ll like him,” I pant as I try to keep up after we’ve parked the car and he races toward the restaurant. I rein him in with a hug. We stroll for a while in silence, past the Old North Church and Quincy Market, licking snowflakes off our trembling lips. I don’t let him know that I’m just as worried.

If the guy is arrogant or loud, too handsome for his own good or not good enough for our daughter…

Our pace speeds to warm up, but I remark out loud, “We need to slow down or we’ll be early.”

Good. Let’s see if he’s late. If he’s late, I won’t like him,” my daughter’s father says. I just shake my head, squashing the impulse to pull him back by his ears like an errant boy.

Because secretly, I agree.

We reach the restaurant -one of her date’s favorites, Nadine has told us.

A line meanders outside the door. “Too crowded,” my man grumbles, “we’ll never get in.”

North End Boston, Italian dining, Italian restaurantBut daughter and her date are waiting at the door with reservations, and we all walk together down a flight of stairs to a cozy, romantic, candlelit room with eight tables, all full of happy eaters.

I’ve been married long enough to know what my guy is thinking as he surveys the room: too packed, too noisy. I lower my eyes and examine Dan the Date through my eyelashes – tall, lean, good-looking with a nervous smile. Ah, he’s adorable.

We all sit down. The table of six behind us bellows with laughter. My man winces. Dan waves the waiter over immediately and orders a bottle of cabernet. I hold my breath, waiting for my guy to explain that he prefers a different red.  

But no, he’s smiling and nodding his head as Nadine asks him a question. I realize then that he can’t hear one word she’s saying – he can never hear in small noisy spaces.antipasto, Italian dining

The waiter appears with a large platter of antipasto with savory pink mortadella, large chunks of white mozzarella squares, and shiny strips of marinated red peppers and green eggplant. The four of us eat and sip our wine. I ask questions about Dan’s work- a lawyer; his parents – teachers; his siblings – he’s an only child. Nadine tells us a story about their first date and we all laugh, including my man, who still can’t hear a word.

Our entrees arrive. I’ve ordered the sautéed chicken and spinach at Dan’s recommendation. My favorite meal here, he says. That’s why he’s so lean, I think, watching the others chew on luscious morsels of gnocchi.

Chicken and spinach, Italian dinner, pasta, North End BostonI savor every single bite of my green, fresh-as-a-daisy spinach. I have a thing about spinach. I love it like most women love chocolate on a snowy night. Spinach is the elixir of the soul for me. When I was pregnant with Nadine, I’d go to the grocery store and buy 10 boxes of frozen spinach every other day. I couldn’t eat enough of it.

Now, I peer over at Dan. He’s eating his spinach like it’s rack of lamb, filet mignon, and beer, all rolled into one.

He smiles at me, and I smile back, inwardly breathing a motherly sigh of relief.

Yes, this could work out nicely.

I squeeze my guy’s knee under the table, and he grimaces back. He’s worried about what he’s been smiling and agreeing to all evening, knowing he’ll have to wait to find out.

When we drive home in the dark of night, stomach full and parental concern relieved, I’ll fill him in.

But I don’t think I’ll tell him about the spinach.

He would never understand that with that one green leafy meal, I know Dan is the man for my girl.

Epilogue – 8-years later.

Epilogue – 8-years later.

 

55 thoughts on “Meeting the Boyfriend’s…Spinach

  1. People tend to forget the horror of that first meeting runs both ways. I always maintained it was a good idea to meet Yvonne’s boyfriends. It was only to check them over of course and while Ju was always welcoming an non-judgemental I often inwardly cringed.
    There were a series of neanderthals before the one she eventually married and Yvonne knew he was the one when she watched him have a conversation with me- my measure of a prospective boyfriend. This one could hold a conversation at last.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

  2. Spinach is also good for my soul . I had it yesterday with my duck breast and sweet potato purée ( another favorite) in a cozy restaurant here in Prague. What a lovely post. I hope you had a wonderful Tanksgiving.

      • Prague is a city with soul, different from the other western European cities. I went on an old Hungarian train from Berlin to Prague and that was like riding in the Orient Express. I’m back in Germany flying home on Tuesday.

  3. Oh I loved this sooooo much – and not just because I LOVE spinach! Oh Pam, you do warm and funny soooo well I’m a little envious, because you do it without the over sticky sweet sentimentality. Laugh out loud in a hand on heart and ‘ah bless’ kinda way. And I do feel for your man. I know how it is to struggle to hear in noisy places. I’m quite a good face reader and lip reader in those situations, but I also do a lot of smiling nodding and laughing on the cue of others doing the same, and usually I get away with it! What a gorgeous Epilogue photo:-) Hugs and blessings, Harula xxx

    • I have an entire recipe box full of spinach dishes. I served “jack cheese spinach casserole” to my poor family about once a week when the kids were little. They finally revolted. Now that they’ve flown the nest, well, maybe YOU wouldn’t be surprised at all the little rectangle boxes in my freezer. Come on over anytime and we’ll splurge!

      • Yay! A spinach fest, I’m in! If you would be willing to share your jack cheese spinach casserole recipe with me, or any other spinach recipe that you think is worth sharing, I’ll make it and post it on my food blog, and give you a shout out. (Of course my main motivation for asking for this is so that I can eat more spinach).

        • My mom’s best friend gave her this recipe about 30 years ago, and it’s a family fave:
          JACK CHEESE SPINACH CASSEROLE
          8 oz thin egg noodles, cooked
          2 pkg chopped spinach, cooked
          3 TB dried minced onion
          1 lb (10 oz or less) Monterey Jack, grated (reserve some for on top)
          1 pint sour cream (I use light – hey, good rationalization)
          Mix ingredients, spoon into casserole dish, sprinkle with paprika. Cover and Bake 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
          Enjoy, from my roughwighting table to yours!

  4. I was nervous meeting my DIL, way back when. Hoping I’d like her, hoping she’d like me, hoping for a long and happy marriage for my boy. And the rest is now happy history. Nearly 14 years and going strong!

  5. My mother used to make fabulous spinach. 🙂
    Be still my heart. This is a wonderful story. Makes me remember the first time I met my daughter’s to-be husband. Everyone is nervous, as they should be. It’s normal. Right? ❤

  6. This was great fun to read!

    Sometimes it is the odd things that tell you someone is making the grade with you. While I am laughing over your criteria being a shared love of spinach, I am grinning at myself – my criteria was a love of dachshunds! That is how I knew I’d found the man who would fulfill my canine dreams. 😏

    (And, yes, our house is peppered with rambunctious little dachshunds – present count is three!)

    Happy news that your daughter has found a nice guy that both you and ‘your guy’ like!

  7. Loved this. I am afraid I am the one who will be like your man. My kids already joke regularly about it. It must be wonderful, as a mother, to see life and love working out well for your child.

    • Well, the ‘old’ joke was the father with the shotgun by his side when the daughter’s date arrived. We moms and dads are more civilized now. I much prefer the use of spinach, an intimate dinner, and perhaps a bottle of wine to figure out if the date “passes muster.”

  8. Great story! For me it was whipped cream. Long story there…but result was my saying, after Boyfriend left, “Oh honey, I think he’s a keeper.” “I think so too, Mom.” He was…and is. And later today they will be here at her brother’s with their baby girl.

  9. I can’t quite relate as my son hasn’t brought a girl home. But I can assure you that I will like her no matter what!!! The girl has all the power in more ways than one!!!

  10. loved this post!!! so glad all worked out so well…they are an adorable family!!
    you are a wonderful writer, Pam….I just love receiving these missives…thanks.

  11. Although it hasn’t been in the realm of a relationship, I have come across the same situation with my son – the activities he elects to engage in, the people he chooses to befriend, the manner in which he goes about reading for his ambitions.

    We all went the best for our kids – young or not so young. And as much as we want to jump in, intervene, and point the compass in the direction we see fit, the best thing we can do is trust that everything we have done as parents has prepared them to make their own choices. Funny thing, more often than not, it works out just perfectly, with out without the spinach 😉

    • So true. Once our kids are adults, we can only watch their lives unfold and hope hope the decisions they make are good ones. We may have no power over those decisions, but that certainly doesn’t stop us from worrying!

    • So you and Ellen end up going to quieter, more intimate restaurants I presume? Funny how we used to love the fun noisy chaos in a busy restaurant. Now… well, why don’t we say we like a more romantic setting now…

  12. A lovely story told so well I felt like I was there.

    When I first introduced my husband to my parents I never really thought much about their side of the experience. I just remember telling my mom not to act weird (she can be a little weird). The best part is that their first meeting was at a water park, complete with water slides and wave pools.

  13. Love the story, Pamela. And it seems the epilogue may even be better.

    I too enjoy spinach – fresh or steamed. It’s a better fresh choice for me than other greens, because it usually lasts in the refrigerator an extra day or two longer than the others. Spinach with feta cheese and just a few drops of dressing. Good to go.

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