Guess Who is Coming to Dinner


Pat Foley

"They're coming here?" My voice, that I like to think of as dulcet, rose up into an unlovely squeak. "Here?"

"They are coming to Geneva," Spock elucidated, turning away from hanging up his raincoat. San Francisco was suffering from a rainy spell. "They're going to stop here on the way."

"Naturally they'll want to see you," I babbled. "I don't want to be in the way. I'll just…I'll go back to the dorm. I'll bunk with Gaila." She would throw out her Andorian lover once I let her know the urgency of the situation. Gaila might not be human, but she would understand.

"They are coming to see both of us," Spock said, coming into the room. "My mother suggests dinner."

"Here?" I looked wildly around at our apartment. His apartment. It was typical Starfleet officer housing, nicer than a dorm room because due to his rank, Spock rated a few rooms, a kitchen, his own bath. Compared to student housing, it was undeniably luxurious.

To host a visiting Federation Ambassador and his Nobel and Zi Magni winning wife, it revealed itself to me in all its true colors. The worn edges of the furniture all seemed to flaunt their shabby seems, the dirt seemed to expand, I could see dust motes in the air that hadn't been there before and smudges on mirrors and glass surfaces. And surely the outside of the building could use a good scrub. "We can't have them for dinner here."

"I don't see why not," Spock said, coming in and pushing aside a pile of my notes and classroom computer pads to find a seat – I was in the middle of mid-terms. When I had little above study on my mind I tended to move and walk in a sea of academic flotsam and jetsam that Spock, after a few mild comments, had given up protesting and now tolerantly lived among. "Anyway," he continued, "they will probably take us out to dinner."

"They can't do that!" I said, horrified. Even I knew a prospective daughter-in-law doesn't greet her prospective mother-in-law with anything less than a five course gourmet meal, demonstrable proof of her worthiness to join the family.

Spock raised a curious brow. "Why can't they?"

"Because I have to cook for them!" I railed, furious at his denseness. Trust a Vulcan to be a Vulcan when you needed him to understand a few simple human concepts. Like the dreaded fear and rites of passage in meeting prospective in-laws.

Spock's brows rose to his bangs. "Nyota," he hesitated, true to his diplomatic heritage, and went onto say gently, "I don't think you want to cook for them."

As delicately as he'd put it, I still bristled. True, I hadn't done much more than heat up prepackaged meals for us on the rare times I did. We ate out a lot too. Or Spock cooked – he had both the patience and the uncanny ability to follow a recipe accurately, whereas I tended to experiment with sometimes drastic results. And I tended to get caught up in schoolwork, so he was invariably the one who, when he came home, made a meal. I didn't expect him to rub that in though.

"I can cook!" I flared at him.

He drew up and back. "Certainly if you wish to cook you can cook," he said, in a manner that said he would henceforth never interfere in the kitchen, and then, of course, just like a man, looked into the inevitably bare kitchen. "What's for dinner?"

"I don't mean cooking for you!" I blustered back.

One thing about living with Vulcans that is easy. After the first few failed attempts in trying to impose their logic on you, they come to expect that humans respond with incomprehensible emotions at all times. It might be hard on them, but they either learn to go with the flow, or the relationship doesn't survive. Spock took this violent reversal with equanimity. "Then if you don't object, I'll make our evening meal. "

"How can you even think of cooking, much less eating, at a time like this?"

He paused on his way to the kitchen, turning back to look at me. "Because I'm hungry?"

"Your parents are coming!"

"Not for 2.4 weeks."

"Your parents are coming!"

"Well, we can't wait dinner until they get here," Spock pointed out reasonably. "You, at the very least, if not starving, would be quite weak with inanition."

I let out a half laugh, half choked sob, and put my head in my hands. "I will never survive this."

He flicked a brow and finally seeming to understand, came back. "You needn't be nervous."

I put my hands down and stared at him. "How can I not be? They are your parents!"

"My parents are nice," Spock insisted. "My mother already likes you."

I moaned, just thinking about it. "Letters don't mean anything. She has never met me. And what about your father?"

He shrugged. "My father is a practiced diplomat who has survived the most indigestible meals known to Vulcans, in some of the farthest outreaches of the Federation, among the least compatible of warring peoples. I have the utmost confidence that he'll survive a meal at our dining table. Even if you cook."

I was too distressed to respond to that teasing barb. "But I've never met them! They have never met me!"

"It has to happen sooner or later," he pointed out reasonably.

"But it doesn't have to be now. I'll just go somewhere. Anywhere. I'll take my Starfleet survival training early. Surely it will be less onerous than this."

"But they are looking forward to meeting you. My mother has expressly stated so. And my father would have said so, except that Vulcans don't say such things. But he is."

I stared up at him. "Don't you realize this is a rite of passage? It's the feared daughter-in-law to parents visit. I'll never measure up."

"I've met your family and survived," he pointed out.

He had too, coming home with me on leave last summer term. I'd warned him my family was clannish and didn't necessarily welcome outsiders. My mother had died when I was a baby, but my Gran, who'd always been so protective of me, had been impressed with Spock, uncaring of his alien appearance. "Good man, that," she had said to me before we left, traitorously in his presence too. "Keep him." I'd been happy about it at the time. Now I felt justified resentment at her throwing me to the Vulcan wolves. He'd been smug about it for weeks too.

"Your father's an ambassador!"

"It's a family position," Spock dismissed.

"Your mother won a Nobel and a Zi when she was twenty!"

"So? You're not applying to be her graduate assistant."

"No, only her daughter-in-law. It's much worse."

"How does her academic career have anything to do with your personal relationship?"

"She'll want to know what I've done to measure up to you!"

Spock flicked a brow in incomprehension at this and then shrugged, unimpressed by that requirement. "Hand her your curriculum vitae."

I tried to clout him with a pillow, but it is useless trying to hit a Starfleet officer superbly trained in hand-to-hand, not to mention a Vulcan too. He blocked me without thought.

"This is going to be a nightmare."

"Nyota, it's going to be all right." He looked down at me, mystified. "Truly."

"Sure," I said without conviction, crushed under the unfairness of my life. Prospective in-laws who live light-years away should stay light-years away, not pop up for dinner as if they lived around the block. How had I imagined I was safe from this? And how do I introduce myself to his very proper and distinguished parents? Hi, I'm the girl who has shacked up with your son? I moaned again.

"I don't see why you are so concerned," Spock said, with typical bland Vulcan unconcern. "They will like you."

"No, they won't," I said. "Don't you understand? In-laws never like prospective daughters-in-law. It's a basic tenet of human existence."

He apparently gave up in the face of that. "Well, I like you," he said. "Isn't that what counts?"

"In this circumstance? No," I told him flatly.

He shook his head, baffled, like a typical Vulcan would be in the face of a real human crisis, and went off to make dinner. Thinking of his stomach like a typical human male. At times, he honestly could be the worst of both of his species. I longed to tell him so, but I was too sunk in apathy.

"What do you want for dinner?" he asked.

"I'm never going to eat again," I pronounced.

Even all the way from the kitchen, I could hear him sigh.

To be continued…