the end of good behavior

A few weekends ago, I walked into Dave’s parents’ kitchen, took off my jacket, grabbed a slice of pizza from an open box on the counter, and greeted his family with the polite, mature language one would expect of a becoming 25-year-old woman.

“Yo, is C.J. going to go fuck some peeps tomorrow?”

I totally blame Dave for my verbal transgression – the first words out of his mouth when we sat down were “so, how’s CJ doing?” As if I could resist.

Although, for a long time, the answer was: yeah, I could. Obviously, I’ve always had a big mouth, but there were certain lines I wouldn’t cross around Dave’s family. I kept my swearing to a minimum around the 12-year-old. I pretended to understand what Dave’s father, a b-school grad, was talking about even while silently praying he would give the auto bankruptcy commentary a rest so I could get back to the pool. I ate a lot of kugel — and even offered up a Jewish dessert of my own one time.

But the day before Dave’s little brother’s bar mitzvah, as I apologized once again for not being able to join in on the upcoming family trip to Hawaii and briefed my parents on his family tree, I realized: there’s not really much I can do to fuck this up at this point. These people, they’re kind of stuck with me.

And also: they should love me for who I really am! Even if who I am happens to be a raging, outspoken bitch.

Hence, the lax self-monitoring at Friday night dinner.

As it turns out, they do seem to love me for who I am — at least to my face. After my outburst, there was an awkward moment of silence, but no real public reprimand. The funniest part was that 15 minutes later, Dave’s 22-year-old brother basically repeated my previous statement word for word, to a very different reaction from his mother.

“Michael, don’t use that language!” she snapped, sparking laughter from all of us and incredulousness from Michael.

“Are you kidding me?” he said. “Rachel just said the same thing.”

At which point it was obviously time for Christie Lee to step in.

“Michael, it’s different,” she admonished him in a half-whisper. “Rachel always says things like that.”

Proving, with those six little words, that the jig was up a long, long time ago.

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