Nevertheless, the parents are together in one place because it's always the mature route to do that bygones thing for the selfless cause of meeting your son's new girlfriend and, incidentally, appearing on television. As Matthew and Meredith approach the house, a group of four people...well, they done put down their muskets and their moonshine, and we meet Mom, Dad, Chris the brother, and Uncle Drew. Carol, the mom, tells us that she could tell even from a distance that Matthew was "beaming," and we cut to the group sitting around and doing the meet-and-greet thing. You've never been to Texas? Never? What about ever? Not even then? "How's the competition?" sassy Mom asks, and everyone laughs uproariously though awkwardly because this is always the point at which the mom asks that question and the rest of the assemblage laughs uproariously though awkwardly. One guy -- we'll call him Ol' Pappy -- brings up the inevitable "I just don't know how two people could know each other as quickly as you have, but you seem very comfortable around each other." Matthew says it feels like she and Matthew have known each other longer. Smiles all around. Meredith tells us she thinks Matthew's family are "salt of the earth people," which -- if you'll just give me one second to look up this translation right here in my Mason To Dixon, Dixon To Mason Dictionary -- means she thinks they're hicks.
Dinner. As they sit down, Ma Matthew asks right off, "Can I make a toast?" And this part of the family dynamic I can totally understand, because the members of my family are all inveterate toastaholics. We always feel the need to clink glasses, as my mother stands up and tries to tell us how happy she is to have the whole family in one place together, but she usually only gets through the words "I'm just so..." before she inevitably starts to cry. But it's totally ingrained my siblings and I with this need to toast whenever we have a glass of liquid anywhere near us, whether I'm opening a Capri Sun for my niece or drinking Diet Pepsi from a novelty plastic cup with the Mets' 2003 schedule on it at Shea Stadium with my brother. So what's special about Ma Matthew and her toast? Well, for one...Ma Matthew's toast rhymes, people. It rhymes. She puts on her glasses and takes out a piece of paper, and at least avoids the line that usually follows the rapid-fire glasses-and-paper sequence: "I have so many people to thank and I just didn't want to forget anyone." Instead, she reads her toast aloud: