The first time I met Dave's family, his dad, Gary, asked me what Kirby Puckett's number was.
"Does he play football?" I asked.
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Dave's brothers groaned. "Baseball," Dave said, "he plays baseball."
"Oh was he the one who groped the girl in that bathroom?"
No one said a word. Dave kicked me under the table. When I excused myself to go to the bathroom, I backed my chair up onto the paw of Krissy, the Shitzu-Poo and beloved pet of the household. She limped for days. I wasn't sure I would ever recover.
My husband and I come from different worlds. He comes from solid Midwestern stock. They repress their feelings, eat casserole and play baseball. My family? We're a mess of anxiety and personality disorders, we listen to Gilbert and Sullivan and our favorite sport is Chinese Checkers. When I came to Dave's family, I was a putzy stranger in a strange land. Dave's brothers, Jason and Matt, didn't laugh at my jokes about literature, and I wanted to poke my eyes out every time we had to discuss Muskie Opener (it's the opening of Muskie Fishing season, if you're as clueless as I was). So, the moment Dave proposed, and I said "yes," I knew I had to do something.
Dave's family priorities go in this order: God, Family, Pie and Baseball. Just don't make them choose between pie and baseball. And as it just so happens, I'm an excellent pie maker. When I was 10 years old, I won a pie competition by baking a Sour Cream Apple Pie.
So, that first Christmas we were engaged, I asked my future mother-in-law if I could make pie. I was living in a college dorm at the time, so I had to rely on her for the ingredients. Matt sat at the kitchen table the entire time I rolled out the crust and sliced the apples. Gary came in and out of the kitchen sniffing the air suspiciously.
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"Did we ever tell you about the time Dave ruined a pie," Jason remarked while the pie baked. "We made fun of him so much that he's never made a pie again." He didn't smile. Neither did Dave.
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