The In-Laws Are Coming

BEN STOCKING HAS A HOLE IN HIS HEAD, PART XIII

A CHRONICLE OF MY BRAIN SURGERY

I’m always on my worst behavior when the in-laws are around. This was true even before Dr. Ryder Gwinn messed with my head.

My in-laws are wonderful people, and they’re flying all the way across the country to take care of me this week.

Pity them.

My wife had to get back to her high-stress job, and my mom had to return to Minneapolis and her bridge club.

I don’t like to boast, Dear Reader, but mom was recently recognized as a Grand Life Master by the American Contract Bridge League. She gets ghastly withdrawal symptoms if she’s away from the table for too long. After two weeks of looking after her son with the hole in his head, she’s desperate to get back.

I’m still too pathetic to manage on my own, so my desperate wife called in her parents on short notice. (You will recall that I had expected to be back on my feet after two weeks. Diana and I didn’t think we’d need more help.)

Let’s see if I can make it through the in-laws’ visit without being a total asshole.

Actually, I behave like an asshole almost every time anyone comes to visit. I terrorize dinner guests, arguing about everything and nothing and insisting that I’m always right. (It’s remarkable how frequently I am.) I revel in making outrageous comments.

It’s not something I do deliberately. It’s an organic process.  The provocations simply flow like lava from a volcano.

As my friend Michael likes to point out, I have no filter.

My shrink says I’m afraid to get close to people, so I push them away. It’s all the result of childhood trauma.

Let’s not get into that now.

The dinner guests can leave if they find me too obnoxious. The in-laws have to put up with me until their scheduled departure.

It’s going to be a difficult week. Diana is under huge pressure at work. She and a small group of colleagues will spend most of Thursday making a presentation to her boss, who doesn’t suffer fools gladly and wants the world changed overnight. Literally.

It’s not a good time for me to behave like an asshole, Dear Reader. Wish me — and my in-laws — good luck. And don’t forget my wife.

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