x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

My husband's biggest fans are… my family

To my parents, my husband cannot do anything wrong. The trouble with that is, I can.

To my parents, my husband can do no wrong. It's almost as if both my mother and father, two brothers, and even my grandparents have all unofficially formed a fan club, placed Mr T upon a pedestal, and are vying for the spot of "Mr T's Biggest Fan".

I would be quite exasperated with all the fawning if it weren't so funny to watch. They compete to see who is most like Mr T, who has the most in common with him, who can get him to laugh the hardest or chat the longest.

Mr T likes dates, dried figs and persimmons? "I swear, this boy is just like me, we like exactly the same foods, it's as if he's my son," my mother announces.

He is the only one in the family with blue eyes and fair skin, besides my grandmother? "This boy is my son, my son; we're exactly alike," my nana exclaims.

"I can't go to sleep yet, Mr T is not back from wherever Hala took him and I have to talk to him about my maths teacher," says my 15-year-old brother.

My mother plans menus days before our arrival, trying to incorporate all of Mr T's favourites. My grandfather does not begin a single one of his stories of the days gone by without ensuring Mr T's full attention, and he stops continuously to gauge his reactions.

My father somehow cannot head out on a single errand without my husband as a companion.

My 27-year-old brother can chat with Mr T for hours, sharing jokes, movie interests, anime obsessions. The two have more in common than my brother and I ever did.

How is it that I spend a lifetime building relationships with my family, and all that husband of mine has to do is waltz in, hand out a few smiles, and get everyone to fall in love with him? At first, I thought it would be too much to live up to. One day, he'd fall off that pedestal. But then I realised, he really can do no wrong. Things I would get scolded for, Mr T can get away with in our house. Things my brothers and I are not allowed to do - keep our shoes on in the house, for example - are all right for Mr T.

I buy them gifts and it's all: "Thank you Mr T, really you shouldn't have, this is just perfect, exactly what I wanted."

I bid them goodbye in the airport, and they're all: "Take care of Mr T, don't snap at him, I heard you the other day, be good to your husband."

They turn to him, and - this one's my favourite - they say: "Thank you Mr T for coming and for bringing her to visit us."

I have learnt to control the expressions of shock on my face, most of the time. But that was too much. "What are you thanking him for? It was my idea, I bought the tickets, I packed the bags!" I exclaimed.

Every member of my family frowned at me.

"Yes but he's the one who took the time off work during a sensitive time and came with you so we'd all be a family together, so you better thank him too," said my mother.

I give up.