Friday, December 07, 2007

parental formalities

I have a problem. It happened after Ex S' parents. I just don't know what to call boyfriend's parentals. Ex S' parentals were first names, there wasn't even a thought into the matter, I'd known them for 6 odd years. But now, it's all gone pear.

For instance, I ended up calling Dick's parents “hey chaps!” for the duration of our relationship. I am stuck. I consulted C for advice:

Peas: So, what do I call 747's folks?
C: What did you call them last time?
Peas: Can't remember. But I'm certain I said “Thanks guys!” at the end of dinner last time. And during the dinner, and even at the start, come to think of it.
C: Oh hilarious.
Peas: I know their first names, but they're more like nick names, and I don't know them that well yet.
C: So “Bob” and “Wendy” is out of the question.
Peas: Yes. Shit.
C: How about “Hello Mrs 747?” Have you tried that?
Peas: I don't know if I have the guts. I haven't done that, school.
C: Are they the Mrs and Mr type?
Peas: Hell, I don't know?
C: OK, well don't do this: I met a friend's parents who are called Gary and Mary. I called them that until we all got hammered one night. Then I started calling them Gazza and Mazza. Out of the blue.


Peas: Shut up. I just spilt coffee all over my keyboard.
C: Now I've gone one step back, no in fact, I've over-corrected. Now I call them Mr and Mrs and not even Mary and Gary anymore. And they haven't corrected me.
Peas: OK I'm going to go with 'Mr and Mrs' 747.
C: It's the safe, polite option.
Peas: Yes. It's just...I have to actually say that and not “Hi...guys.”
C: How hard can it be?
Peas: Very hard.
C: It's normal actually.
Peas: ....Wait! What if they're standing next to each other? Saying “hello Mr 747” is fine, but if they're together then it's going to be like “Hello Mr 747...oh and hello Mrs 747.” I'm starting to foam at the mouth.

I consulted my mum. (Who hates being called Mrs Peas, and always opts for first names straight away.)

Peas: Mum, what do I call 747's folks?
Mum: What did you call them the last time?
Peas: Can't remember.
Mum: That's terrible Peas. I bought you up to be a lady.
Peas: [whining] I am a lady!
Mum: Call them Mr and Mrs.
Peas: C once called a set of parents Gazza and Mazza.
Mum: There is such a thing as too informal, Peas. So, I wouldn't by any means, copy C's idea.
Peas: OK. I'll call them Mr and Mrs.
Mum: Like you have another option?

So I did. I called them Mr and Mrs. Once in the beginning of the evening, and once at the end of the evening. Not certain what I called them in between. Chaps? Okes? Chinas? It's anyone's guess. God I'm proud of myself.

Particularly enjoyed family stories of when 747 was juvenile and bakgat. Like when he'd taken the front bumper off his dad's car in Kenton.

PS: Last night I went to a company Xmas party with my boss, and he forced me to down three tequilas in three minutes. To say I was stewed is misguided. Christmas Parties aren't for wussies.


kyknoord said...

Confidence (or at least, the appearance thereof) is the key. Then you can call them pretty much anything you like. I suggest Pope Gregory IX and Concubinia as a starting point – not too formal, but not too familiar either.

Peas on Toast said...

Kyk - ha ha ha. What are you opinions of "Peaches Geldof" and "Moon Unit Zappa?"

Sure, it's been done. But they're always a party stopper. When said confidently of course.

Mel said...

In situations like this I find it helpful not to call people anything at all, and you can still be polite! You can get by with "Hello, nice to see you again" and "Thank you for a lovely evening" etc with never having to mention names. I've known my fiance for almost 6 years now and have never called his dad anything coz I still don't know what would be appropriate!

Peas on Toast said...

Mel - WHAT? Six years and you haven't established what to call them?????
Dude that's insane!

That's pretty much what happened with Dick's parents, but we only went out for like 6 months, and even then I had problems with just saying "Howzit." Or "Hi...guys!"
No. Way.

What do you address them as in
a) Christmas cards
b) On the telephone (what are they down as in your address book)
c) Please pass the salt....XYZ?
d) On your wedding invitation??

Ruby said...

oh my stomach hurts...LOL

I tend to opt for Mr & MRS first, unless they introduce themselves by using their first names. Gosh, its sooo much easier in afrikaans...just plain and simple "Oom en Tannie" and no worries.

My poor sister in law had the same prob. She comes from the states, and was already engaged to my bro when she met us the first time. She just cut to the chase and asked my parents what they would like to be called, they opted for first names...but she eventually ended up calling them Oom and Tannie....with the american twang of course;-) It's mom and dad now tho...but it was hillarious;-)

Mel said...

I know, it's totally insane! Firstly, he's Afrikaans, I'm English so Oom just doesn't feel right... And he's not the most friendly approachable person and has never really approved of us so I really struggle with this one... However, luckily the problem areas you mentioned are very easy:

a) They don't believe in and don't celebrate Christmas, so no cards are sent
b) They regulary change their telephone numbers without telling anyone, so I don't bother saving them anymore (previously I just used Mr)
c) I ask another person who's closest to the salt
d) They just moved somewhere without telling the kids who don't live with them where they are, so who knows where to send a wedding invite to?!

Luckily "hello how are you" pretty much sums up MOST of the conversation we've had over 6 years, so I honestly haven't really needed to call him anything! :-)

Peas on Toast said...

Ruby - your sister in law is a wise bird! I thought of doing that too, "Hi...guys. Actually, on that note, what the dickens do I call you???"

But it just took too much balls.

If only it could just be Oom and Tannie!

Mel - ahaha! Well I see you've got it all covered, from salt passing to elusive phone numbers - impressive! One day just for shits, you should scream out across the table, "GLORIA! PASS THE F$CKING ASPARAGUS!"
C'mon I dare ya :)

Mel said...

Alas, the subtlety would be totally lost! :-)

amanzimtoti said...

This is a big problem hey? I didn't know what to call my boyfriend's parents the first few times so I went with adressing them directly at all. I asked him if I should go with Mr and Mrs but he was no bloody help at all. Eventually I went with first names, but my problem is what will I call them if we get married? i think calling someone elses folks mom and dad is just unnatural but I know they'll expect it. *shudder*

Pinle said...

Mr and Mrs always needs something attached to it though... They probably won't like it if you said "hey mister/missus, tell that story about the bumper again..."

What about sir/mam???

Peas on Toast said...

Toti - alas, if there's one thing I'll never do, even if they're my adopted parents, is call my husbands parents mom and dad.
Yikes, no ways man. Are you seriously gonna have to do this?

Pinle - sir/mam? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Not in a million years - that's what I called my customers at the restaurant I waitressed for at varsity. Also my male school teachers. No I think the Mr will have to always have the surname attached....even though it's longwinded and verbose. I suppose I can count my lucky stars he doesn't have a double-barreled last name, eh? ;)

Nessers said...

Do what my childrens friends do - I no longer have a name I am simply known as Portia's mom or Savannah's mom so you would say "Hello Mr 747's mom" hehehe

Peas on Toast said...

Nessers - your kids names are beautiful - they're real right? (Not your kids, the names. ;)

I like that. I think I'm gonna try this out for next time. I wonder if they'll notice ;)

Betenoir said...

you know, as long as you're not going with "sexy wench" or "love dawg" you're still pretty much okay. they either like you or they don't: what you refer to them as doesn't really matter as much.

Peas on Toast said...

Bete - you know that's so true. "Sup dawg" wouldn't matter if they likened me to a piece of excrement on the bottom of their shoe.

Perspective, I like it, thanks! :)

Champagne Heathen said...

"Mom" & "Pops" are always options. Might cause minor tension in your own relationship, what with the implications of those nicknames, but hey! the parents' approval is always more important than the guy's, right!

I have managed to avoid parents' names for YEARS. It is an art, but once you have mastered it, you will wonder why any of us require names at all.

Peas on Toast said...

Champs - I dunno, I've just been bought up that if I don't use people's names or some kind of name in any case, I'm being rude. I feel like you know when you meet someone and you don't remember their name and it's like "oh hello..." and I always feel it's so obvious. So skirt the issues I may do, but I'd rather not. :)

SheBee said...

I have *THE* answer:

Ask 747 what his mates call them!


Ruby said...

Mister seven four seven and Mrs seven four seven could become quite bout Mr & Mrs sfs?

Peas on Toast said...

Sheebs - been down that road. All nicknames by the sounds of things. But they know his folks lonnnnng time.

I'm liking "Sup wiggas" more and more :)

Peas on Toast said...

Ruby - I hear you. Maybe as time goes along. :) I'm just grateful his surname isn't Barrington-Smythe-Jones or the likes!

Ruby said...

hmmmm...has an odd ring to it:
Peas on toast-Barrington-Smythe-Jones

Imagine the signature on that one

Peas on Toast said...

It would be...flamboyantly pretentious, n'est ce pas?

Revolving Credit said...

Forced you to drink 3 tquilas in 3 minutes??

Why, were trying to drink them faster and your boss forced you to slow down??

To avoid really long names and subsequent greetings, just abbreviate it to the 1st letter of the surname.

as in 'Hi Mr & Mrs 7.'
or as in someone refering to your mom as 'Mrs P.)

Peas on Toast said...

Revvie! Where've you been my whole life? You've been soooo quiet lately :)

The reason he made me down them is simple. "Punishment Peas. For being the Office Bitch."
So I took it like a man :)

Revolving Credit said...

"So I took it like a man"

Your boss got on his knees and gave you head???

Been a bit quiet lately 'cause I've actually been having to do some work, before end of year.

Peas on Toast said...

Ha ha ha, like WHA eva.

Yeah. So much for this year slowing down - I feel your pain. Stress attacks are happening more regularly than ever these days.

Nessers said...

Yes the names as well as the kids are real grin - and thanks

Koekie said...

Always a bit delayed on the commenting, but anywho... I think Rev's got the right suggestion. Mr and Mrs S: formal, but still casual and chummy-ish.

My mom never bonded with her mother-in-law and THIRTY YEARS LATER still refrains from addressing her by name. I once questioned this - Mom's answer: 'I'm not calling her Mrs Anything and I'm sure as sht not calling her mom...'

Try to figure out some sort of naming system before the decade is out, mmkay?

Ordinarylife said...

I have a similar problem. I have just gotten married and don't know what to call the In laws. I asked around my group of friends - they were NO help. Apparently the easiest was to have children and then say - Junior ask your gran if she would like a cup of tea. One friend has been married for 15 years and has never called her inlaws anything!!!!

Peas on Toast said...

Shit, this is more of a dire problem than even I realised!

In laws abiding, I can't believe this happens to so many people. I'm not sure I could handle it folks.