I got engaged last year.
The engagement happened on the side of a hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in Spain, where my fiancée's parents live.
After we got engaged my fiancée's parents shook my hand and hugged me and said "Congratulations! We're so happy for you!" But there was this look in their eyes. I mean, I thought that look meant, "Welcome to the family." But now I'm not so sure.
1. We were driving on the road on some very steep cliffs near the Mediterranean Sea. They found a perfect spot to turn off for pictures.
"We want some of just Joey by himself," they said.
"Okay, move back a little more," my fiancée's mother said. "It will be a better shot. Okay, a little more. Okay a little more."
I stumbled and fell off the cliff. As I was hanging off the side of the cliff, my fiancée's mother came over and begin stomping on my fingers. Maybe she was confused about how to help someone who is hanging off the side of the cliff.
Luckily my fiancée jumped out of the car and pulled me up. She is strong. Thanks, fiancée!
2. The next day they took us to the beach. It was very cold but they said it wasn't that bad and without hesitation my fiancée's mother jumped in and dove underwater. She encouraged me to swim out far by the buoys. Suddenly I was surrounded by jellyfish.
"They're harmless," she shouted.
"Pet them, pet the pink ones! They love the feel of human hands."
Perhaps I was too rough with them. That's why they caused me searing pain.
3. One day after lunch, the parents took me to a farm and encouraged me to practice running with the bulls in case we ever go to Pamplona. They had me wear a red jumpsuit which they had conveniently brought with them.
My fiancée's father poked the bull with a pole. "He's really gentle," they said, right before the bull ran after me.
Man, he was fast. And his horns were sharp. The doctor said they almost punctured my lung!
4. "You know," they said, "it would be a really nice surprise if you could get your girlfriend—excuse us, we mean fiancée—some fresh lobster. There's nothing like fresh lobster."
I like fresh lobster. I agreed.
"Don't tell your fiancée," they said.
At dusk they drove me out to the sea and put me in a rowboat. "Go out about two or three miles and drop this trap in. We'll pick you up in the morning."
I spent a cold night until I was rescued by some Catalan fisherman.
5. They asked me to dig a hole in their garden.
"Dig a big hole," they said.
"How big?" I said.
"Big enough to fit a person in. We want to plant some trees, some really big trees."
After I dug the hole they asked me to lie down in it.
They started burying me, just because they wanted to see what the hole would look like when it was filled up with the tree stump. That's what they said. It made sense at the time.
My fiancée came up the hill to the garden, back early from her hair appointment.
"What are you guys doing?" she said.
"Oh, nothing," they said. "Time for lunch."
6. They had me go skydiving. "There's nothing like skydiving in Spain," they said.
I saw them fiddling with my parachute before I took off.
"What are you doing?" I said.
"Oh, we're just checking to make sure it will work fine. Everything looks good here. This should hold just fine."
It was a good thing they looked at the parachute because there was something wrong with it. Thankfully the emergency chute opened. Still, I sprained my ankle.
7. They asked me to fix the wiring on the dishwasher.
"I'm not an electrician," I said.
"Not important" they said. "It's one of those things where you don't really need training. Just jump in and do it."
"Okay," I said. "We do need clean dishes."
The feeling of electricity going through my veins is a curious one.
8. My fiancée's father gifted me an antique pistol as an engagement present. I thought it was an unusual gift. As he was handing it to me, the gun went off.
"Damn," he said. "I didn't know it was loaded."
The bullet narrowly missed an artery. "You're lucky," the doctor said, eyeing me. It was the same doctor who treated me for the goring. "Very lucky."
9. They took us to a Mexican restaurant to celebrate our engagement. They ordered some raw tuna tacos and insisted that I try it first since they wanted my opinion and I had "such a tremendous sense of taste."
"It tastes a little funny," I said.
They insisted I finish the taco.
They smelled the other tuna tacos and said, "Oh, this is off. This isn't any good."
Later as we were leaving I saw them high-five the chef. I spent the next three days in the bathroom. When I finally emerged downstairs they looked at me and said, "Oh, you're okay? Great."
10. When we left to go to the airport they looked at me and said, "The other ones weren't so difficult."
Not sure what they meant by that.
But man, they're so nice! They got a wheelchair for me at the airport since with the bullet and goring and sprained ankle and food poisonng I could barely walk. They also bought me a ticket to North Korea—"one of the most beautiful countries in the world," they said—and told me to take some time for myself before the wedding. I leave next week!