Saturday, September 10, 2005
Know what an answering machine does??
Oh, my mother-in-law. I don't deserve such familial bliss.

It has been a while since I whined, don't you think? Yeah, I'm due.

We went out to dinner last night, all 4 of us. Which was really great right up until the second the waitress brought our main course. Suddenly, Emily, who had until then been angelic and had INSISTED on ordering fettucini alfredo, announced, "I don't like this!" and had a delightful and embarrassing tantrum in the middle of Olive Garden. Now, as we all know, she never actually touched the food, much less tasted it - and yes, she's had it before and liked it then. So, that brought the night to an abrupt downer, though we did recover our mood somewhat after she stopped howling and mooing.

We came home to three messages on our answering machine. The middle one was from my dad, using the machine as God intended for it to be used - leaving a brief message which actually contained some useful information. The first and last messages were from my mother-in-law, and they were identical: "Hi, it's Mom. Just calling to see how the first week of school went for everyone. Give me a call, or I'll call you later." They were left about 3 hours apart, on a Friday night, around dinner time. How DARE we not be home?

This by itself isn't that obnoxious, but it's part of a larger trend. She called four times on Father's Day to leave the same message each time: "Hi, it's Mom, just calling to wish my son a happy Father's Day. You could call your poor mother back sometime, if you want." We had spent the day out, so we came home to all four messages at once. That was her record, but generally my mother-in-law doesn't seem to believe that answering machines will, in fact, answer the phone and play back messages. So it's irritating.

She called again this afternoon, just after Willem took the kids out on an errand. I don't know who was happier when I answered the phone, her or me. Our conversation started like so:
HER: Oh, hi, Kate. Is anybody else home?
ME: Nope.
HER: Oh, good! Can I talk to them?
ME: No. They're not home. Willem took the kids out.
HER: Oh. [Thinks: Liar.] Well, how is back-to-school going?
--mindless chatter for 5 minutes, in which she asks questions and does not listen to my response--
ME: Oh, Willem and the kids just got home, hang on.
HER: Oh, okay. Tell Willem that I want to -- [Me pulling phone away from ear so as to enforce the "hang on" part.]
ME, to Willem: Your mother is on the phone. Do you want to talk to her now or would you rather call her back later?
HIM: I guess I'll get it over with. [takes phone] Hi. [pause] Classes are good. I haven't taken any tests yet, so I don't really have any grades. [pause] I did get one homework assignment back, I got a 96. [pause] What do you mean, what happened to the other four points?

At this point, I left the room rather than remaining to fume.

I know, she could be worse.

I wish she was! She's soooo good at walking that line between driving me insane but not being bad enough for me to legitimately cut off the relationship. Argh.