“Nati, where is the husband?” my Ethiopian aunts asked.
Last weekend, my family hosted a bridal shower for my cousin. She’s getting married in Ethiopia this month. Our small celebration included traditional food and dancing, gifts, marriage advice, etc. Tons of fun!
Having a family of foreigners can be a bit challenging at times. In fact, you develop a tough skin growing up in a foreign household. You know, they say whatever they want directly to your face. No shame. For instance:
(Said in the best Ethiopian accent)
“What happened to you? You gained a lot of weight!” Then, they scrunch their faces up in disgust.
“What is going on with your face? If you drink XYZ (insert something from the health food store here), your skin will be clear. “
“What did u do to your hair?? I don't like it.”
“You still haven’t found a boyfriend, yet? What’s wrong with you?”
And my favorite:
“When are you getting married? Your baby cousins are growing too big to be flower girls.”
Yep. I hear these remarks every time I come home. This past weekend, they drilled me. I mean, we were at a wedding shower hosted at my mom’s house. Someone in my family was getting married. Just not me. And it may not be me for some time now. I’m cool with it. My aunts and cousins aren’t. That’s just stateside. Let’s not get into the family overseas. Don’t let me get a $5 calling card to call my aunt in Ethiopia to wish her a Happy Easter. After we get the pleasantries out the way, I get that same marriage question in Amharic. I don’t speak the language, but I definitely understand that golden question. I guess they need time to make travel arrangements. I get it. Trust me, they will have plenty of time to prepare for US travel after I make the announcement. Relax.
I’m approaching 30. That’s an old bride for foreigners. They are used to arranged marriages at the age of 14. Six children by the age of 27.
How do I respond to this, you ask? Aside from the eye rolls, deep sighs, fake smiles?
Uhhh… I tell them the truth. “I’ve been married for 3 years now. Mom didn’t tell u?” I love to see their reaction when I say that. They actually start thinking to themselves like “There was a wedding? How did I miss that?” Confused as hell.
After I get them to chuckle, I hit them with this, “Look. Stop asking. You will be the first to know. I just don’t have it right now. I know you are frustrated, Auntie Mimi. Please!” *walks away* If I had that attitude at the age of 14, Auntie Mimi probably would have yanked my ponytail as I walked away and beat the sh*t out of me with the nearest weapon (telephone cord, wire hanger, etc.) They don’t play with the “American Attitude’ thing.
As you can see, weddings are a big deal in my family. It ain’t about the bride and the groom. It’s about the parents bluffing to their friends. Showing off and carrying on. I know my mom is so ready to throw this Broadway production of a wedding. One time, she called me at work to tell me MY wedding colors. She sure did.
I love my parents to death. I know they want me married with children living in a huge house out Northern Virginia somewhere. But, they don’t want me to rush it, marry some loser, and then end up in a nasty divorce 2 years later. They want me to do it right and when I’m absolutely ready. So my folks get that part. They actually stopped inquiring about my relationship status a few years ago.
It’s my aunts and cousins who worry the hell out of me.
“Where is the husband?” GTFOH!