TWO THOUSAND ACRES OF SOY BEANS, PUNCTUATED BY THE OCCASIONAL FLYING SAUCER

MY ABSOLUTELY LEAST FAVORITE part of a relationship is meeting the girl's parents. You're fucking their daughter, and everybody knows it. Some parents have a harder time with this than others.

Usually Daddy is the biggest problem. Figure that you are attracted to your opposite-sex parent: this means that whatever you like in this girl is also there in your mom, and in her mom, too. Whatever she sees in you is also very much like what's in her dad. Or the exact 180 degree opposite. Same difference.

This means that you walk in the door and her mom falls in love with you, and her dad automatically hates your guts not only because he can, graphically and in Technicolor detail, imagine exactly what you're doing with his Little Darling in the sack, but because you are in fact some serious competition for both of his women's love and affection and, if old Sigmund is right (and he is) he'd much rather be doing his daughter himself since she's actually a younger version of the woman he married in the first place.

So there you are on your best behavior, trying to act like a gentleman around Mom, and like a Real Man (but not too real) around Dad. With any luck, minding your language and a conversational knowledge of the seasonal televised sport will carry you as far as you need to go. For this moment-and with any luck that's as long as it will last-you are absolutely at their mercy. Power corrupts, and in no time flat their true insanity will come out.

All people's parents are crazy, but usually they have to watch their step. Not around the boyfriend. My first wife's parents were rich farmers who lived in the middle of billiard-table flat, rural northern Florida. I flew into an airport the size of a pocket handkerchief. There to meet me was Daddy's Little Girl, regressed to the age of 12, and, all teeth and horns, Daddy.

Full-bird Air Force colonel, retired. Stark, staring mad. Only one thing to do and I did it. I agreed with everything he thought or said and fully accepted the reality of the necessity of being armed to the teeth at all times for fear of lust-crazed Negro males; with total-immersion baptism as an essential ingredient for eternal salvation; that the United States government was infested with, and entirely dominated by, registered members of the Communist Party; and of the regular appearance of visitors from outer space.

I learned a good deal about soy beans, as well. My wife and I did not sleep in the same room, or even touch one another beyond what might be thought seemly between siblings. I ate a lot of baked goods. After three days we left in the wedding-gift Audi, and for the first twenty-four hours I was so much like her dad that she started to hate me the way she hated him. That's the reason she was attracted to me, of course. The marriage didn't last.

August 29, 1994

3/17/99

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