This fuck up started 6 years ago when I met my wife’s parents for the first time. Thought I had been determined to make a great first impression, ma and pa weren’t thrilled about their country girl being stolen away from them by a city boy.
Conversation was stiffer than John Mayer’s penis at 4 am on a friday night, but somehow it veered into the French category. I think we were talking about the civil war. Ma stated she’d always wanted to learn the language. I thought I’d win her over by telling a joke:
”A few years ago I didn’t speak any french, but now I can speak fluently - apparently it is parler liquide”
Well, they didn’t quite catch my wit, apperently speaking neither french nor sarcasm. Before this, they’d been cold to me at best, but now they were treating me like I was the queen of france - before the revolution. At first, I thought they simply loved my joke. Ooh-ing and aah-ing. Asking me to speak more french. Weird, I thought, since the joke wasn’t that funny, but maybe it was their cup of tea? Glass of wine? Jokes about french maybe was their thing. I proceeded to recite the only other french joke I know:
A cat named 1-2-3 and another one named un, deux, trois were crossing a river. One made it avross. Which one? 1, 2, 3 because un, deux, trois, cat-re sinq. They loved that one too. Looking back on it, they didn’t understand it at all.
When they started asking me about where I learn it, how long it took, if I’d be willing to teach them, it dawned on me. These people were stupid. It being the first time meeting my wife’s family, me fearing the awkward, and her dad looking like he chops trees with his bare hands, I made the split second decision to lie.
And lied I have these past 6 years. My relationship with my wife’s parents has grown steady. I’ve spent far more time with them than I ever anticipated. I would have been comfortable coming clean to them, had it not been for the fact that the frenchness is my entire identity, my being, my worth to them now. I have become a caricature. Fearing they’d suspect otherwise, I way overdid it early on which means I’ve had to keep it up at express pace this entire time. My wife thinks it’s hilarious, which is why she hasn’t said anything, and the lie has gone on far too long for me to say anything. Every christmas the family gets together and I gift them french wines, despite never having been there. I sometimes say ’merde’ after intentionally dropping something infront of them and I even learned how to make baguettes. I occasionally wear a beret and they love me for it.
So much so that they decided to invite the entire family to Paris for their 30th anniversary next year (after the pandemic). They’re so excited and they’re talking about how I can translate for them and ”take them places only locals would know off” and how I’ve ”inspired them to finally visit France”. My wife’s parents are no wealthy people, it is a grand gesture from them paying for my vacation to Europe. I know I’ve got to tell them. I can’t back out of it, my wife would kill me. And I can’t wait for them to find out in France, my wife would kill me.
It’s so frustrating because it’s such a small fuck up that has built up to this tremendous thing over the past few years. I have no idea what will happen once they know, but I’m not eager to find out.
TL;DR: Wife’s parents didn’t understand a joke, thought I spoke french. Me being afraid of awkwardness, doubled down and became über-french despite speaking no french at all. Now they’re taking me to real french people and I am screwed.
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