The Common Man's father-in-law was in town last night to check out The Common Man, The Uncommon Wife, and The Boy's new digs in Wisconsin. He was traveling through on business, so couldn't stay for much more than a tour and dinner. In spite of the short visit, the house needed to be in father-of-the-bride level awesomeness.
What is it about father-in-laws? The Common Man wonders. What produces the aura that surrounds them? Do they carry around tanks of fear-inducing pheromones? And where can The Common Man get one so that he doesn't have to feel intimidated anymore when he goes to the auto mechanic? Do you have this problem? Where you start to flop-sweat at the thought that her father may think, even after four (relatively) successful years (hi, honey!), even for a second, that you're not good enough for his little girl? All the fathers-in-law The Common Man has encountered seem to have this power.
And The Common Man is even on good terms with his father-in-law. There is mutual respect there. The Common Man has contributed to the making of a grandson to continue the family line. The Common Man and his family live in a nice house in a nice neighborhood in a nice city. It's clear that The Common Man's father-in-law appreciates that fact and (in general) approves of his son-in-law. So why does The Common Man get a feeling that his father-in-law could decide at any moment to announce he's going to his car to get a shovel if The Common Man says the wrong thing?
His wife's dad approved of the house and neighborhood. He believes The Boy is progressing nicely. He announced his intention to return, perhaps even to stay a while. And so, The Common Man has earned his reprieve. It was a good visit and The Common Man is safe once more. But next time? Who knows? Such is the power of The Father-in-Law. You can never stop trying to impress him.