smile and nod: the inflatable husband edition.

Smile and nod.  It’s what I’ve done for the better part of my life .  When I was younger, it meant heeding to the no-sleepover rule that my parents had arbitrarily established in what seemed like a ploy to prevent me from engaging in anything that resembled fun.  And in high school, it required me to forego the sole invitation I had to attend my senior prom.  More recently, my willingness to smile and nod has resulted in my (reluctant) participation in a match-making operation driven almost exclusively by my mother, one that has involved cross-country excursions, a significant amount of expenditure and a whole lotta crazy.  Today, I share with you one of the more memorable experiences in my sometimes-nonsensical, always-comical dating life...

I had recently graduated from college and set up shop in Los Angeles where I had secured my first full-time job as an economic development consultant.  I was re-acclimatizing to life on the West Coast, trying to make new friends outside the context of school and attempting to keep my head above water financially.  Enter Mom, who was married at the age of 22, pregnant at 23 and mother of two at 28.

She had gotten wind of the fact that there was a single Punjabi doctor whose parents were equally involved in his love life.  He was (and probably still is) British.  Good looking.  And interested in meeting me.  Only catch?  He was living 3,000 miles away – in Boston, to be exact.  I thought that was enough to get me off the hook.  Mom didn’t.

So we flew cross-country (yes, “we.”  As in my parents and I.  We tend to do things in packs in this family).  I distinctly remember fabricating some story about why I’d have to miss work (and the office Christmas party).  I used the same story on most of my friends, too embarrassed by my predicament to trust them with the truth.  We took a redeye on Thursday night and arrived at Logan International in the wee hours of Friday morning.  Hopped on a shuttle to our hotel, which, if I remember correctly, overlooked the Charles River and was breathtakingly beautiful.  Warily stumbled into a hotel room around 6 am, leaving us enough time to nap and shower before meeting up with Punjabi doctor and his parents.

I crawled under the covers.  Dad instinctively grabbed for the remote and turned on the TV.  Saddam Hussein had been captured.  No chance any of us were napping after hearing the breaking news.  We were glued to the TV and only reluctantly tore ourselves away when it came time to head down to the hotel lobby and “meet the parents.”

Things I’ll never forget:

  • The first thing Punjabi doctor’s mom asked me upon meeting me in the hotel lobby: “Are you willing to relocate?” Huh???  Slow down, lady.
  • I wore a pink puffy vest on our pseudo-date.  Definitely didn’t win any hearts on that trip on account of my fashion sense.
  • Punjabi doctor was pretty awesome.  I immediately felt at ease with him.  But I also remember being deathly afraid that this could result in a life-long commitment, and I wasn’t ready for anything of the sort.  There was too much I had yet to accomplish.  And at 21, I yearned for independence, not marriage.
  • And I voiced that concern.  To Punjabi doctor.  On more than one occasion.

Perhaps most unforgettable, however, was the surprise package I received when I arrived back in Los Angeles.  It was from my bosom buddy (which, if you’re confused by the term, bequeaths sibling status on friends-who-are-like-family).  Inside?  An inflatable husband. And a note that said, “Maybe this will help avert future cross-country, husband-finding trips.”  =)


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