Having a Calabrian father-in-law takes some adjustments.
– No matter how much you eat, it is never enough.
– You have to learn a new language to communicate, and I’m not talking about Italian.
– And no matter how hard you try you might never-ever!-decipher his hand gestures and grunts.
But all that aside, having a Calabrian father-in-law really takes the torta.
And here is why.
1. It is never boring
I’ve written a lot about how funny Italians are, especially my Calabrian suocero, Nino who told his sister he prays for me every night … because he is worried I don’t eat enough.
He also called the weather a bastard and told me I’ve given his son a disease, when my husband refused another piece of chicken and more broccoli … and a few weeks ago, he did it again.
My husband was serving guests at our bed and breakfast and one of them walked outside to enjoy the crisp Calabrian air. I heard my father-in-law mumble something under his breath, followed by a classic “Nino” grunt.
“What did you say?” I asked, thinking he was speaking to me.
“Ah, nothing.” He grumbled. “I thought that was Peppinuccio outside in shorts-but it is not. It is some other asshole!”
2. Every day is a gift day
Likely in an attempt to offset the fact that, at least in his mind, I don’t eat enough, every other day or so is “gift day.” Like many Calabrians, my father-in-law goes grocery shopping every day and almost every day he comes back with a surprise for me.
Check out the loot I got last week. Two Nutella Snacks (with tea), a three-pack of Pocket Espresso and a Kinder Sorpresa. What is not pictured is the two-pack of Gran Soleil desserts. Yum!
3. You can’t pull one over on him
I considered posting a photo to help you visualize my Calabrian father-in-law experience, and like any blogger worth her WordPress widgets, I asked my subject’s permission.
“Nino,” I began slowly. “I would like to put a picture of you on … ilmiosito … , ok?”
“What?” He asked. You know, he doesn’t hear well.
“A picture. Of you. sulmiosito.”
He looked at me, not smiling.
So I bargained.
“If you let me use your picture, I’ll eat meat. Every day.”
“Watch out,” my husband warned.
“Every day this week,” I clarified quickly.
He looked at me.
“Well,” I told my husband in English. “He didn’t say no.”
Nino’s head jerked up.
“No?” He repeated the one word he’d understood correctly.
“But I’ll eat meat every day.” I told him. “Please?”
“You’re tricking me,” he told me. “You can’t trick me!”
And that was that.
So, dear blog readers, I’m sorry, but you will have to continue to visualize my 70-something year old father-in-law, with his white hair, neatly combed back, his thin-rimmed glasses and gruff grin until I can convince him to pose.
Are your in-laws from a different culture than you? What are some of your favorite moments or stories?