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EST. May 2000 (AD)




Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?

By Ellen Cleary

There comes a moment in the life of every mother when she meets her daughter's boyfriend - and hates him on sight. With mothers becoming younger (and with daughters getting less selective as the available talent pool grows), that may come sooner than you think. So how do you get rid of the bum and make sure he never returns?

Next to meeting your in-laws for the first time, this ranks up there along with job interviews and facing a judge across a crowded courtroom. For the uninitiated, here are a few tips to help you come across as the Girlfriend's Mother from Hell.

Look horrified! After all, he dresses like a Goth and the slap on his face makes him look like a vampire on day-release, so he must be used to it. And with all those holes drilled in various parts of his anatomy with chains hanging where Mother Nature never intended, it's not like he's the sensitive sort, is it? To test this, give one of his chains a sharp tug or clip the dog's lead to it and shout "CAT!"

Street slang. Using the word 'cool' too often in an attempt to be… well, cool, is definitely not. But asking him how many bitches he's got in his crib will definitely unnerve him.

Dressing up. If you know he's coming, this gives you the edge. Dispense with the usual sloppy joggers, over-stretched T-shirt and furry slippers, and go for something tight, trendy and minimal. Before you know it he won't be able to take his eyes off you. To your daughter, this will show if he can't stop ogling her mother, then what will this sicko do when faced with someone 20 years younger and available? Of course, if the little geek actually starts drooling over you and calling you Babe, you may have to give him a slap. But don't worry - it's character-building.

Pop music. Showing a deep and meaningful knowledge of pop culture will further undermine his confidence. This, after all, is not what adults are supposed to do. They're supposed to hate loud music of any kind, have the rhythm of a dead dog and loath anyone who wears clothes with obscene words across the front.

Jokes. A minefield at the best of times and responsible for more wonderfully toe-curling silences than hearing a five-year-old telling everyone what Mummy did to Daddy last night. And your insistence on laughing and punching him (hard) on the shoulder every few seconds to emphasize the joke will shred his nerves.

Be tactile! Some mothers keep their distance with a new boyfriend. This allows them way too much comfort room. Don't be one of those stand-offish moms; GET REAL CLOSE AND PERSONAL! Remember, most teenage boys have lurid imaginations fuelled by rampant hormones, way out of proportion to reality. Thus, even a slight touch on the arm will be seen as the wrong sort of welcome. Anything like a hug or a sultry look will make them think you're the sort of predatory older woman their mother warned them about and they should run screamingfrom the house.

Family photo album. Do it. Every darned page. Twice. You owe it to yourself.

Covert resistance! Mothers have been meeting prospective sons-in-law for generations. Back in the Middle Ages, if they weren't impressed they could pour boiling oil on them or lock them in a dungeon for a few years. Nowadays, however, we're supposed to be more civilized. Start with salt in his coffee or washing-up liquid in the coke, then let him see you trimming your fingernails with the bread knife. If that fails, cut up a red hot chili and ask him to rake out the seeds with his fingernails. Being a boy, he's bound to put his fingers somewhere disgustingly sensitive sooner or later, and his pain will be your reward.

©2004 Ellen Cleary


Ellen Cleary is a freelance writer based in the UK and likes to break free of the traces every now and then and depart from her normal work. It's like a caffeine break for the literary soul.

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