Friday, August 10, 2007

"I Heart My In-Laws"

Dina Koutas Poch is a writer and filmmaker living in New York City with her husband. Her in-laws live in Connecticut.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her book, I Heart My In-Laws: Falling in Love With His Family -- One Passive-Aggressive, Over-Indulgent, Grandkid-Craving, Streisand-Loving, Bible-Thumping In-Law at a Time, and reported the following:
Page 69 falls midway in “The Family Tree” chapter — the opening of which says it all: “Like a grand aspen grove, your beloved is connected to a root system of hundreds of relatives. When one tree grows sick and infested with tent caterpillars, it affects them all. That’s family.”

This chapter helps to place your significant other in the context of his family. A lightbulb blinks on in your head. You say, “Aha! That’s where he gets it from” because you learn that his annoying habits — talking in the background while you’re on the phone, bouncing checks, and hyperventilating on planes — were acquired from his annoying family. Or, “Huh? I have no idea where he gets it from” because you and your in-laws are equally confused by your partner’s new two-week obsession with militant veganism.

Page 69 begins with advice for dating “The Guilty Child” a.k.a. Mr. Dutiful and Doting. “He takes great care of you, but he also takes great care of his family.” And concludes with guidance for dating “The Competitive Sibling,” the one who believes “there are only winners and those pitiful ‘losers’ who lost.” The rest of the chapter tackles the larger in-law family tree, honing in on potentially tough in-laws like “Nana.”

Nana may look like an adorable, sweet human raisin. But she rules with a ruthless mind grip on your partner and his entire family. You can’t tell Nana that you are an actress/waitress because she saved an entire town by boiling her panty hose and selling erasers for 2 cents during the winter of 1927. So, when she asks: “what do you do for a living?” Remember this is a “make or break” question.

Use the chart below before you talk to Nana or any in-law born pre-1930 who was affected by The Depression, “The War,” and not having easy access to the polio vaccine.

Your job —————————————–––>What you tell Nana

Psychiatrist —————————————–––> Doctor

Sketch comedy actress ————————–––—> Producer

Sports writer —————————————––> Lawyer

Lawyer —————————————–—–––> Rabbi

Currently unemployed —————————–––> Computers

Senior Vice President for Target ———–——––> Homemaker

Brand Manager for Crest ————————–––> Dentist

Accountant —————————–—————––> Accountant

Manager of Kinko’s ————————–––––––––> Accountant

Ph.D. candidate for gender studies ——————–> In medical school

Excerpt from Page 69:

…[Dating The Guilty Child…] We’re talking about midnight excursions to fix air-conditioning units, giving up weekends to clean in-law garages, and bailing his sister and her new “boyfriend” our of jail. It’s not easy to sympathize with Mr. Dutiful and Doting, but here are a few tips:

* Take the weight off your partner’s shoulders. Relieve him of his guilt when his sister has a bikini massacre and needs someone to add fresh cubes to her ice bath. Be his right-hand man.

* Remind him that even Atlas needs a Caribbean vacation — once in a while. Everyone deserves to check out of life now and again. Assure him that his family will be better off if he recharges his engines. With renewed vigor, he’ll be able to wallpaper this mud room in record time.

The Competitive Sibling

There is no second place for your partner. Normally sublime with you, your sweetie’s competitive side gets drawn into “the family game.” Life with your in-laws is black and white. There are only winners and those pitiful “losers” who lost.

You and yours will always have the larger diamond ring, hardier snow tiers, more fabulous vacations, and smarter children than anyone else in his family. Whatever the competition, you will compete, conquer, and flaunt. Got it?
Read selected excerpts from I Heart My In-Laws and learn more about the book at the official website and the author's blog.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue