“Do I need to change before I come over?”
I was wearing a bright, blue sundress that whose above the knee hemline was dangerously close to “inappropriate for a woman of 20 and 9,” but it was only a Women’s Ministries potluck. I hadn’t gone to church in the morning, and having woken up at the crack of 11 a.m., it seemed fine for lunch at one of the church women’s houses on a warm day.
“Ooh, that’s up to you,” my friend, Elizabeth, replied. “If you want to meet an Indian Adventist guy, they’re definitely the ones who will have the hookup, so I’ll understand if you need to go home and primp.”
Up until that point, I had been mainly joking. But, Elizabeth was right.
She was having a birthday dinner for her daughter that night, and among those in attendance would be her in-laws. Her Indian, Adventist in-laws.
If the stories I tell here are any indication of either Indian or Adventist culture, you know that both groups of people love their matchmaking. Combine the two qualities in the Venn Diagram of Life and I should have gone home to bathe in rose water and incense to prepare myself. Instead, I went straight to Elizabeth’s house, in my short blue dress with half-smudged makeup from the morning. I also needed to tweeze my eyebrows.
I know. The Indian aunties of the internet just had to close their browsers in shame.
When Elizabeth's in-laws walked in, I was wrist-deep in samosa dough in the kitchen, helping Elizabeth's husband, Tim, make the last of the food. Ordinarily, looking half made-up with a loose ponytail and less than perfect posture would seem like a bad thing, but don’t kid yourself. The in-laws met me when I was making samosas. Not only is this not the worst thing that can happen, but it also suggests that I know how to cook Indian food, instead of what I actually know how to do: follow instructions from Tim.
Conversation was superficial at first, as it must be, to falsely conceal intentions. Within five minutes, though, the inquiry that I had been anticipating came.
“So, all of the Indian Adventists in this area know each other,” one of cousins started. “But I’ve never met you before.”
It was not a subtle declaration, and Christine snickered at me, as she made eye contact from across the kitchen.
“Oh, yeah, I know,” I said. “I usually go to church on the Virginia side [of DC].”
“Have you ever visited The Indian Church?,” she asked.
I have attended The Indian Church, but I chose not to elaborate on the fact that when I had, I'd always shown up sari-clad, on the arm of a very Indian man, with an engagement ring on my left hand. It also would have been poor form to get into the intricacies of why I can’t talk to one of the families that goes there anymore, because they were friends of Rich and took his side in the breakup. So instead, I just answered a simple and casual, “Oh yeah, I’ve been there,” and named the two families that I know.
Surprisingly, I wasn’t interrogated at all, except for usual conversational questions about my profession and place of residence. Thankfully, the in-laws that were present are Tim's cousins (my age) and not aunties looking for something to do with their spare time. If the aunties had been in attendance, I would need to never repeat this story to my mother, lest she scold me for going to this party without "looking decent."
The initial introduction has been made, though, and should I reach a point of desperation, boredom, or curiosity, I know who to call. Based on my past dating experiences, though, “Indian and Adventist” is probably a demographic that I should avoid.