Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tip list for introducing your "friend" to the family

My cousin who is still in college is planning on bringing her boyfriend to the family party this weekend which also happens to be her father's birthday party. Our family is large. Needless to say she and her boyfriend are nervous.

Now frankly, various cousins have brought their boyfriends by parties and I don't really remember any of their names because well, they may not be around next year much less next month. It's only until we start seeing them more often that I might learn their first name and not til they get married do I ever find out what their last name is.

And actually, boyfriends have it a bit easier when getting introduced to the family. Because the family won't actually tell you (the girl) to dump him if they don't like him, they will talk around you, roll their eyes when they see you lovey-dovey, and then go pray that you will see the light of day before we all start hearing wedding bells. Then at the next family party you attend without the guy, the uncles will espouse their advise on finding Mr. Right. For instance, one uncle took out his wallet and fanned the $100 bills in his wallet and declared, "your boyfriend better have plenty of this!" If you're lucky, one of the older cousins might sit you aside and have a heart-to-heart to make sure you really want to do this, but in the end they won't stop you if it's what you want to do.

The guys on the otherhand probably should not bring anyone by unless they're decently serious (dating at least a year if not two or have discussed spending many more years together). Because the cousins, in particular, are wickedly catty. She wasn't friendly. She's stuck up. I don't like the way she looked at me. And will then pressure the guy to get rid of them quick. The women who have made it into the family managed to do so with exquisite grace. And then if the guy does not dump her after all that, he stands a chance of getting shipped to the Philippines to be introduced to someone there.

That said, I'm not saying my cousin is off to get married with this guy. They both still have a year of school left and who knows where they want their lives to go after that. But, they need to survive this. Plus he's Filipino so he will need to be a bit more "integrated" in the Filipino Family etiquette.

So, here's the prep list:

1. Be able to have a decent conversation around the following questions:
-what do you do?
-what do you study? what is that?
-what will you do with that after? (you don't have to know exactly, you just have to have some ideas.)
-are your parents still together? where in the Philippines are they from?
-have you been back to the Philippines?
-do you speak the language?
-what religion are you?
-how many siblings do you have? what do they do? (because if your siblings are schmucky, they'll think you are too)

Goal: to get as many "that's good" to your replies to the questions.

2. Introductions
-Come about an hour after the party is said to start so that way most of the family is already there before you show that way when you introduce him, you can introduce him to lots of people at once as opposed to one at a time.
-when you come, bring some desert to share, and since it's her dad's birthday something extra for him, like a bottle of wine he can share with the other uncles (wine, not liquor. He just turned 21, don't want them to think he's a hard drinker already)
-to make it easier, just call all the aunties and uncles, "auntie" and "uncle" so you don't need to remember their names
-the rotation: start with the party celebrants and/or hosts of the house, but if you hit a large group before you reach them (like the uncles in the garage), then introduce them to them, but don't stay too long because you have to get around. From there, go chronologically from oldest to youngest, aunties/uncles to cousins. You can stop when you hit your age group.

3. When meeting the uncles
The uncles are really the biggest hurdle for guys coming into the family. Trick is not to end up sitting and chatting with them for a long period of time. Since you're new, they will want to include you in the conversation and that's a kind of torture you may not want to endure.
-If they ask you to sit, say, "that's ok." then offer the chair to grandpa or one of the elderly people in the area
-if they ask you to drink, refuse it saying you're designated driver. Or refuse the hard liquor but take the bottle of beer so you have something to hold. Take a few sips of the beer, but not more than half the bottle so you can always say when they offer more, "No, uncle, I have alot left."

4. the way out/the way in
-if you can, engage in at least one karaoke song
-chat with family members in your age group
-if you need an "out" of a conversation, excuse yourself and say you need to get a drink or more food. No Filipino will refuse your right to get more food and drink.
-plan with the other cousins to leave the party some time later to go hang out

5. Goodbyes
-same order as the beginning with the celebrants and hosts first then down the line
-if they ask you to take a plate home, take a plate home.

Of course, the husband said, "you can't tell her all that. it's cheating! what fun are we going to have?" I replied, "She can know all this, because it's all about the execution of it. Anything can happen."

1 comment:

Lolalomy said...

you are so wise...you retain an old Filipino custom sweetly funny, and true!

I am a fan of your's and Ver's blogs. I am proud of you, ladies!