"You really don't have to do this, you know. Nobody's forcing you."
"I know. I'd still like to go anyways."
"No, I mean, you really don't have to. I understand completely if you'd rather just not come at all. I won't hold it against you because - "
"I've told you about my sisters, right? How bratty they are? They're in their thirties now, but I swear, they still pull stupid pranks on me whenever they get the chance. Like this one time - "
"Sophia locked me in the hall closet for three hours before anybody found me, and I was known as That-Girl-Who-Is-Afraid-Of-The-Dark until my junior year of high school and - "
"Then there was Karin who used to spit in my food and convinced me that - "
I gave up trying to get through to Regina. It was a lost cause. We'd only been dating for about three months, but I already knew it. The woman could go off on a tangent like no other, and there was no stopping her when she did.
I could understand why she was so nervous, really. Who wouldn't be nervous about their significant other meeting their family for the first time?
I just wasn't as nervous as Regina was.
The only one I had really been concerned about impressing was her son, Archer.
They had come over to my apartment a few weeks ago for dinner, which I had nearly ruined with how antsy I had been about the whole thing. But it ended up being a terrific night. I only felt a little guilty that Regina had been more or less ignored because Archer and I played video games on my Nintendo 64 for about two hours.
I was actually excited to see the kid again. I knew he hadn't been dealt the easiest hand in life, and I got the impression that he liked spending time with me. If that brightened his day even the smallest bit, then it was time well spent.
"Chris. Are you even listening to me?"
"I'm sorry, what?"
Regina blew out an exasperated sigh and buried her face in her hands. She was acting as if the weight of the world was on her shoulders.
I left my spot at the tiny kitchen table and opened the fridge, grabbed two beers, popped the tops off, then joined Regina on the couch in what my land lord said was a living room.
She snatched the beer from me immediately. "Thanks."
We sat in silence for a few minutes as we sipped at our drinks.
I was hesitant to ask her why she was so nervous about having dinner with her family tonight. I didn't want her to go off on another rant about how the evening was going to be terrible and that I'd absolutely hate it.
"You must think I'm nuts," Regina said, glancing at me with a wry smile. "This isn't like you're my first boyfriend I'm bringing home to meet my family."
"No," I agreed. "But you're bringing home the best boyfriend to meet your family, doll."
"Is that so?" She raised her eyebrows at me, doing her best to look skeptical, but there was a small smile pulling at the corners of her mouth.
"I never lie," I told her solemnly.
"Well," Regina said. "Let's just hope that after tonight you'll still want to spend time with me."
"Why wouldn't I?"
"You've only met my son. You haven't met the rest of the crew. Honestly, my nieces and nephews make zoo animals look well mannered."