Monday, January 17, 2011

Dinner at Paul's house

Paul's parents recently celebrated their 20th-anniversary as immigrants in Canada. They invited a couple who generously supported them until they settled in, months after emigrating from Russia. The woman, L, was old and very brusque:

"When you two getting married?" she asked. Paul's mom told her to stop embarrassing us.

Earlier in the evening, Paul sat beside me at the corner of the table. His mother shooed him to the side: "Sitting in corner means six years you don't get married."

Paul rolled his eyes and held my hand. I laughed and asked him if he'd sit there if the saying was true.

"No" came the emphatic answer.

Now here we were, the entire table watching, as I earnestly pondered L's question. I spoke slowly: "I think it would be prudent once Paul and I are settled in our careers." Then quickly added, "... so we can have healthy, stable lives."

L scoffed. "Everyone want healthy, stable life. Why not get engaged now?"

"Because we don't have any money," Paul interjected. The guests chuckled.

L was unmoved:

"Why you need money? For wedding? How much?"

"As much as you want," I said.

Listen, I continued, money will help us build a healthy, stable life together. I don't want a wedding, I don't need a dress, and I don't care for rings. But I want our finances to be in order before jumping into anything.

Paul's father said it was a good answer and settled the matter. The guests clinked wine glasses and the discussion slid back into the comfortable tides of the Slavic language.

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