"Your parents want to do what?" I shrieked.

Getting Grilled (by the Boyfriend's Parents) at Morton's

"They want to meet you," my darling boyfriend said, "so they've planned a pre-Thanksgiving holiday dinner at Morton's. C'mon. It'll be fun!"

Soon images started flipping through my mind like a View-Master. Click. Shot No. 1: Sis giving me the once-over. Click. Shot No. 2: Mom watching to see if I put my hand on her only son's body in any inappropriate manner. Click. Shot No. 3: Me chatting with creamed spinach in my teeth. It wasn't going to be pretty.

But then there was the thought of getting my hands on enough chopped salad, tender filet mignon, bacon-wrapped scallops, garlicky green beans, and steamy hot chocolate

cake to fill my belly for not only one evening, but inevitably

another lunch the day after. Heck, I've never met a leftover I didn't


Normally I'd never be nervous to meet his family but, first of all, they have read some of my writing and, let's just say, it's pretty obvious I'm no angel. Plus they know that he has been spending the weekend over my house for months now, and surely they know we're doing more than playing pinochle. They live close by, so they could conceivably make our lives life hell if they don't like me. It'll feel more like the Jewish Inquisition than an innocent Sunday night meal. Maybe I can bail out with some legitimate-sounding excuse, like calling in a migraine or cramps. No one would dare argue those, right?

Instead I bucked up and decided meeting the 'rents is just an inescapable reality in any serious relationship. Plus there was always the chance that they'd dish some precious gem of insider information that I could later employ against my lover in ninja blackmail-style. So after donning my most June Cleaver-esque, cleavage-less dress and putting on pearl earrings, half the normal amount of eyeliner and lipstick, and closed-toe shoes, I was ready. 

Thankfully they were all open arms, hugs, and kisses when we sat down at the white tablecloth-covered table. And soon enough the server arrived with a plastic-wrapped tray of raw beef segments and a wriggling Maine lobster with rubber band handcuffs. I couldn't help doing my best ventriloquist act: "Please -- don't eat me! Steak is much, much better!" Giggles followed. Ice: broken.

Instead of grilling me about my upbringing and my slightly crazy (yet very lovable) family, they kept rolling with stories: family vacations, suffering through Hurricane Andrew, and friends who were a little meshugeneh (there's your Yiddish Word of the Day, folks). All the while, the food fiesta was on. We took advantage of the holiday special -- $49.99 per guest for a Morton's or Caesar Salad; a single cut filet mignon with béarnaise; plus our choice of broiled sea scallops, shrimp Alexander, or jumbo lump crab cake; a veggie; and dessert) -- and ended up with enough food to feed a small country. 

At that awkward moment, when all that was left on our plates were smears of sabayon, waylaid walnut pieces and dabs of icing, it was time to share reasons why we were thankful. Mom and Dad said they were grateful for their family and good health. Sis was thankful for her friends too, and her boyfriend. I was thankful to be surrounded by so much warmth. My boyfriend said he was thankful for all the aforementioned and, of course, that he met yours truly. I let him finish off my dessert after that comment.

At the end of the night, he walked me to my car, kissed me on the cheek, and whispered, "They loved you!" in my ear. Phew. There's one obstacle behind us. But now it's his turn to try and pass my parents' test at the table next week. Let's see how well he can talk turkey at Casa Altman.

Morton's, The Steakhouse has locations at 5050 Town Center Circle in Boca Raton (561-392-7724), 500 E. Broward Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale (954-467-9720), and 777 S. Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach (561-835-9664). Or visit mortons.com.

Freelance writer Riki Altman eats everything that won't try and eat her first (with exceptions, of course) and dates younger men, older men, and older men who act like young men, along with locals, tourists, illegal aliens and just plain aliens. Love Bites is a compilation of what happens when her dining and dating ordeals collide. Sometimes, it just ain't pretty.

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