Chapter 2: Meeting the Fam
We arrived at the farm early enough for introductions and chatting, about an hour before dinner.
We were greeted first by Kaitlyn’s mother Mary, which she pronounced like there was an extra ‘i’ in there somewhere: “Mayree.” I later learned that she was second-generation Irish, which explained the explosion of flaming red curly hair and occasional slip into the accents of her childhood in a Boston immigrant neighborhood. She must have been about fifty, but she was still quite MILFy, kept in shape by the farm labor. I could see why Kaitlyn was so beautiful. I could only hope she aged as well.
Next up was her father “Papa” Ramón Gutierrez, a wiry man of Mexican descent, his accent not Hispanic but Southern Utahan, which I’m told is quite distinct from Northern Utahan; it’s all kind of the same to my Indian ears. The Gutierrez family had been in the area for over a hundred years, going back before the city was founded as a farming community on the South side of the Colorado River, the same river that had carved the Grand Canyon. I supposed he must have been a handsome guy in his youth. Not exactly Ricardo Montalbán now in his middle age, but I could see why these two got together.
“Vicente’s around here somewhere. The rest of the kids will be along later tonight; they’re all working or in school,” Mary explained. “How is it that you got here so early?”
Kaitlyn answered that one, “You remember that trespassing thing I told you about last month? That went up for trial today. The guy got community service and a fine.”
“That’s it?” demanded her father. “Not long back that’d’ve got you shot ’round here!”
We all grinned a bit, some of us more nervously than the others.
“Oh, you should see his new sign, Kaitlyn. It’s on the barn facing the road; you might not have seen it on your way in. It says, ‘Trespassers will be shot. Survivors will be shot again!’” She laughed, clearly amused by this.
“Oh, papa, you don’t really believe that, do you? You wouldn’t shoot a creeper on your land?” Kaitlyn asked, slightly aghast.
“I might,” her father said. “I suppose it depends on what else he was doing. Strolling through on a shortcut? Naaah. Swiping corn? No again, though I might do some brandishing. Molesting my animals…maybe. Molesting my family…ah, now you’re getting my trigger finger itchy.”
“That doesn’t sound unreasonable,” I put in. “Kaitlyn and I… Well, our trespasser gave us quite a fright that night. I was able to quickly tackle him and restrain him, and Kaitlyn called in the cops so it didn’t need to come to guns, but I can see how trespassing might get to a state where you’d want the option.”
Kaitlyn’s father just looked at me, assessing, then nodded. I think he approved of my story, my defense of Kaitlyn. He then spoke, “Y’know, we had a trespasser of our own not long ago,” her father said. “But we’ll talk about that later, when the rest of the family is here.” He paused, then asked, “Do you own any firearms, Mr. Bhat?”
I replied, “Davie, please. And no, I only got naturalized about three years ago; I haven’t really had any cause to look into it.”
“Well, I’m told you’re hoping to look after my daughter. You might want to give it some thought,” her father advised.
“I will,” I said. He didn’t need to know that I had other resources at my command that pushed firearms pretty far down the list of my options.
“Well, Kaitlyn, how about we go get dinner started?” her mother put in.
They went off to take care of that while her father and I continued chatting about my education — masters in computer science — my background — software engineer turned computer service guy — and my intentions — to love, honor, and respect his daughter for as long as she’d let me. He seemed to approve. I decided he probably wasn’t going to shoot me. Yay!
About that time, Kaitlyn’s little brother Vicente walked in, apparently having been out doing a bit of farm work. He’d just graduated from high school a month earlier, so he’d been doing most of the farm work, letting his parents relax into semi-retirement, at least for the summer. He seemed rather nervous and stand-offish; I kind of liked him, recognizing a fellow introvert, yet unable to connect by that very fact. It recalls our kind’s motto:
in your own homes.
Kaitlyn’s other siblings trickled in over the next hour, so I was able to meet with them all and get in a good chat with each.
The next to arrive after us was Kaitlyn’s little sister Allison, a 21-year-old college student at the local branch of Utah State University, still living with her parents to save money. She was just out of her last class for the day, halfway through the summer semester, so she got out to the farm well ahead of “rush ten minutes,” our local small town equivalent to Rush Hour.
…Or better stated, in my experience of big cities, Rush Hours, plural, which is why I appreciated my new life in a town where biking everywhere was a sensible option.
But I digress.
Allison was darker than her sister all around, taking on more of her father’s skin tones, with just a bit of ruddiness from her mother’s auburn locks in her straight mid-back-length chestnut brown tresses. She was taller than Kaitlyn, maybe five-four. I thought Kaitlyn was more beautiful, but I’m probably biased.
Last to arrive was her big brother Miguel and his wife Carmen. He was huge, probably six-six, built like a linebacker. I later learned they called him “Miguelito” as a joke, that being a diminutive usually used for a small child, like calling the biker bar’s bouncer “Tiny.” Miguelito was a mechanic in town, which was redundant information, since I’d already shaken his work-roughened hand, grease still in places that no amount of scrubbing short of drawing blood would get out. It was an honest handshake backed by a calm and straightforward gaze. I decided I’d get along well enough with him. We were of different worlds, but not impossibly alien to one another.
“So, you’re into computers?” Carmen began.
To outsiders, “computers” is an undifferentiated lump of a concept, but since the field spans the entire breadth of human endeavor these days, you can have a room full of people that are “into computers,” each of whom is deep into at least one technology that no one else in the room is using and of which less than half the rest have even read about.
Rather than explain this to her and be seen as snooty, I just answered, “Yes. I work in a small computer service shop up off of Main.”
“Oh, good, there’s this thing going on with my Mac…”
I sucked it up and dispensed free computer advice as well as I could manage while not even having the ailing machine in front of me. I wonder what they’d say if I just dragged Miguel outside and demanded he start helping me work on my FJ?