One reader’s peanut butter-scented mother-in-law is coming to stay permanently, and he wants to know if there’s anything he can do to put a stop to it.
Hello once again youse fellas and youse dames!
Joey the Finch here, and I gots to say, it’s about time our mutual friend, Mr. Hawk, saw the inherent value in my presence on his Interweb site. So here it is. Take a looksee. He done gave me a much deserved column of my own. Welcome to Fuggedaboudit, a little nook where I, in all my humble glory, can answer the questions and queries youse folks send my way. What? Who better to hand out wise advice than a wiseguy? Fuggedaboudit! I’m like a loan shark, ‘cept instead of money and busted kneecaps, I hand out helpful hints what needs to be paid forward rather than back. Needless to say, I’m a man what’s got a big heart; sharing makes me feel all butterflies and rainbows inside.
‘Course, youse tell anyone in the Fambly I said words like butterflies and rainbows and we’ll have to see about havin’ youse visit a different kind of shark, one that’s great and white. Capisce?
Good. Glad we got that out of the way. Let’s read our letter for this week:
Dear Mr. the Finch…
I’m no Stephen King, but here are the ten most frightening words I will ever write: My mother-in-law is coming to live with us.
My wife and I have been happily married for nearly ten years. Part of our relationship’s success is that we moved away from both our families shortly after our wedding day, meaning my in-laws (her parents) and her in-laws (my parents) could only come to visit when they could afford to make a cross country drive or an expensive flight. While it means the kids see their grandparents less often, it also means I don’t have to put up with her disapproving stares and passive aggressive tater tot surprise on casserole night.
My father-in-law left his wife last summer for a twentysomething blonde he met in Vegas. Lucky him, right? That’s where the problem really started, what with visits every month, each one more protracted than the last. And then my wife drops the bomb: In order to keep her mother from feeling lonely, she made the unilateral decision to let her move into the small apartment over our garage.
Thing is, the mother-in-law has been a troublemaker in the past, coming between me and my wife. Seriously, a guy can’t catch a break around her. One minute everything seems like it’s going to be okay, the next, I find her snooping through stuff in my man cave – my man cave! – or whining about how the pinups I keep in the garage are so representative of my toxic masculinity.
I mean, what in the world is THAT supposed to mean?
And then there are the little things. She puts toilet paper on the roll backwards, knowing it’s one of my biggest pet peeves, she sings Let It Go – you know, the song from Frozen? – all the time, only in a creepy nasal old church lady voice, and she smells like fermented peanut butter.
What can I do?
Trapped In My Own Home
Dear Trapper John:
Let me counsel you on one point first. This woman, this monster you describe, she’s the woman what gave birth to the woman what gave birth to your kiddos. This ain’t the person you wanna take to the mat like she’s some kind of rival. That ain’t sayin’ she ain’t one, but you gots to be careful with how you treat this situation, all delicate-like.
Youse guys, you and the fambly, that there is a sacred trust. Maybe she’s part of it on the peripheral level, and maybe she ain’t. But either way, if you go at this all head-on, the best you can expect is maybe a red handprint on the cheek to commemorate the day you played the dumbass around your old lady, especially when it comes to her mother, her own flesh and blood.
Respect is the name of the game, then, and you gots to have it in spades. Be above reproach. Help her move in, get settled. Make her feel all comfy, like she was livin’ in her own place. After all, the wifey-poo already told her she could stay, so it’s up to you to act as though it was an equilateral decision made by youse guys, not just the side of the relationship lacking a Y chromosome. Point is, you can’t do nothin’ stupid right now, like putting Liquid Drano in her morning coffee or hiding a cobra in her hat box. Let me tell you from experience, that sort of thing goes over like a solid lead beach ball.
You also gots to let go of the little things, like the toilet paper and the squeaky church lady voice. But not the peanut butter smell. Allow me to be the first to recommend an enforced shower schedule, followed by a liberal application of her favorite brand of smell-good. Peanut butter is all well and good on a sangwich, but there’s a reason we ain’t never seen Eau de Skippy or The Jif Collection perfumes.
Look, a man’s home is his castle, no? So maybe you gots to have boundaries, though. I mean, come on, boundaries is how we all manage to survive, right? Imagine if we ain’t had a boundary along our northern border, for instance. Those Canucks, bet you dollars to donuts they would have already attacked. But having a border means we can be friendly with those schemers in Canadia, even if we know they’re plotting an invasion behind those polite smiles. I mean, come on, they already sent us Justin Beiber. If that ain’t a declaration what leads to war, I don’t know what is.
Anywho, the man cave and the garage, maybe they go off-limits for the time being, so you have a safe place to go, a sanctum for your sanity.
Oh, before I fuggedaboudit – see what I did there? – you and the little woman need to sit down and have a heart to heart confabulation. Communication is key in a relationship, and you need it now. You don’t go make decisions like buying that sweet new Caddy you been eying without her input, right? She should give the king of her castle the same respect. If this is the kind of decision she makes without involving you and the kids, she ain’t thinkin’ this is some kind of equilateral partnership. And if it ain’t equilateral both ways, it means someone’s in charge, and it don’t sound like that someone is you, bub.
If you still feel like you need some advice and can’t sees no other ways out of this and there’s some spring cleaning to do, let me offer you a little advice: Quikrete is my brand of choice when a choice has gots to be made. Choose a lesser brand at your peril.