Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Uncles Make Fun of My Boyfriend’s Balls”

Guest columnists and contributors are generously sharing their talents and insights while I’m taking some time to care for my new baby. Today’s letter is answered by columnist and blogger, Billie Criswell.

I’m a 21-year-old female dating a much older dude (he’s 41). We met at work, and were friends for several months before we began dating. Since we’ve begun dating, he has met my parents (who both really like him) and I have become close friends with his sister. His parents live pretty far away, so I haven’t met them yet, but they know about our relationship.

The problem is Thanksgiving is coming up, which is a major holiday for my family. Dude has expressed interest in coming to our family gathering to meet my extended family. I’m glad he wants to get to know my family, but I’m concerned about how he will be received. My uncles are pretty big jokesters, and they LOVE to tease, but sometimes it crosses a line. They heard I was dating someone older, and now every time I see them, they make comments about how if I’m going to be with an old guy, he should be a doctor — they have even gone so far as to ask me how I put up with “wrinkly balls.” I tried to play it off, and my mother has also told them that she and my dad approve of the relationship and that he’s a great guy, and asked them to lay off, but it hasn’t helped any.

I am not ashamed of our relationship at all, and we knew when we started dating, not everyone would be as understanding of our age difference as our immediate families. That being said, I don’t think Dude is entirely prepared for what’s coming at my family Thanksgiving. Do you have any advice for how to handle this situation? I’d love to bring him with, and I know my family will really like him when they get to know him, I just don’t want him to have his (not-wrinkly) balls busted all throughout dinner. — Saying “Uncle!”

Oh, how I can relate to the teasing. My husband is only six years my senior, and people are less than sensitive, even after our eight years together. Of course, now it’s just perfect strangers more than anyone — like the flight attendant who recently asked me how long my “daddy” took me on vacation for. Nice, huh?

Over the years, my husband and I have fielded all kinds of jokes, one even (in the very beginning of our relationship) from his own father who made some comment about “child abuse” when I was hurt during a ‘bout of play with our dog. I would feel the sting of those comments so acutely that sometimes I would cry, but eventually I learned to get over it. Mostly, people were making jokes because they were uncomfortable, and I had to buck up and, as they say, take it on the chin. It’s what you sign up for, I suppose.

So your plan of attack, as you may already know, has to be two-fold. The first part involves simply being honest with your dude. Say that your uncles are rough when it comes to joking and can be a little ruthless. Prepare him, but also reassure him that it isn’t meant to be mean-spirited.

I also recommend that you ask your boyfriend to assert himself. He’s going to have to get used to it if he wants to date a hot, young thang, so he better get into the groove now! If your uncles say something, you two need to be united, but also casual and not easily angered. I am a big proponent of the simple, honest and non-confrontational statement. So you (and dude) can say things like, “We’re happy and comfortable with our relationship.” If they get offensive, say, “That comment really crosses some boundaries that I feel are inappropriate.” Changing the subject is a great shifter, too, so be ready to pull that out. Say it with me now, “How about them Bears?!”

I would also enlist the help of a family member…like maybe your mom or dad. I know you said you’ve tried before, but did you pull out the wrinkly ball card yet? Ask them to have a little “uncles talk” pre-holiday. Be honest with mom or dad and tell them that the “wrinkly ball” joke has you a little a gun-shy about the holiday. I am sure that your uncles will be willing to put a mellow lid on it for the holiday if your parents are serious. And even if they don’t, at least you and your parents will be on the same page. You could also put in a phone call to your uncles if you are feeling up to it as well.

Most of all, you should know that people will do this to you guys at one time or another. Don’t take it personally. Sure, it’s not fair, but hey, life’s not always fair. But you guys will be the happy ones, and so really, what’s a little teasing every now and then?

[photo via flickr]

* Billie Criswell is a columnist and blogger from the “Delaware Seashore.” She loves zumba, bloody marys, and cooking. You can follow her shenanigans at Bossyitalianwife.com.
 

 

 

108 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Dennis Hong November 17, 2011, 7:16 am

    Oooh, I just got an idea for a new cosmetic product. I think I’ll called it Balltox.

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    • avatar

      TheGirl November 17, 2011, 1:37 pm

      Nothin’ says lovin’ like a little botulism in the old ball sac!

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  • avatar

    Addie Pray November 17, 2011, 6:44 am

    Hahahaha – the title and picture are priceless! I’m laughing out loud. Why are balls so damn funny? They are, aren’t they? That’s it, I have nothing else to add.

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    • avatar

      silver_dragon_girl November 17, 2011, 8:48 am

      I think this wins for “Best DW Headline Ever.”

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      • avatar

        TheOtherMe November 17, 2011, 8:53 am

        Oh my, I feel bad because it’s going to be all about balls isn’t it ?

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray November 17, 2011, 9:55 am

        Hey, speaking of balls…. When I was in Boston visiting my sister last fall, I bought some stuff at a gas station and asked the cashiere if she had a sack. She looked confused. A asked again, “A sack, you know, so I can carry my stuff out?” The cashiere chuckled and said, “oh, ok, sure,” and gave me a sack. [Weird, right?] I told my sister and her friend who were waiting in the car, and they started laughing, “Sacks, like balls?! Why would you ask the cashiere if she had a sack?!” And I’m like, no, you idots, a sack, like a plastic bag. … So, apparently sack only means balls. Is this an east coast thing or just a thing that I was clueless about?

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      • avatar

        wendyblueeyes November 17, 2011, 10:04 am

        Here in the east it’s called a “bag”, or even “paper or plastic?”, as in do you want your stuff in a paper bag or a plastic bag. Sadly, a sack is usually wrinkly and hairy.

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        silver_dragon_girl November 17, 2011, 10:06 am

        Um, well, “bag” is becoming more common, but we definitely still say “sack” a lot here in the middle of the country when referring to the things you carry your groceries in. I’ve also heard “sack” for balls, though 😛

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      • avatar

        PFG-SCR November 17, 2011, 10:07 am

        Sack, bag, poke…all different words for the same thing depending on the part of the country you live in. I’m surprised that the first two aren’t more well-known that people wouldn’t be surprised by them being used interchangeably, though.

        But, Addie…we say cashier here in Chicago. 😉

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray November 17, 2011, 10:10 am

        Well, I mean, I know “sack” can mean balls, but I always call plastic bags “sacks.” Well, not so much anymore. Ahem, cashier. 🙂

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      • avatar

        Eljay November 17, 2011, 10:11 am

        Aahahahahahaha!! I could just see the look on her face when you asked if she had a sack! OMG that’s priceless. Yep, definitely an east coast thing. Just like we east coasters say “soda” where middle coasters call it “pop.”

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      • avatar

        PFG-SCR November 17, 2011, 10:18 am

        Haha…I didn’t know anyone referred to Midwesterners as “middle coasters”!

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      • avatar

        Eljay November 17, 2011, 10:45 am

        Hahaha!! Got that from my 12 year-old. She’s brilliant. 🙂

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B November 17, 2011, 10:23 am

        Actually, my east coast relatives call it “pop”. I wonder if it’s a regional thing? (They’re from PA.) Or maybe a generational thing? I got confused as a kid when I visited my grandfather and in his house there was “breakfast”, “dinner” and “supper”. I had no idea why we were having dinner at noon.

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      • Budj

        Budj November 17, 2011, 10:39 am

        Soda, pop, coke are all used in upstate new york based on region.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 November 17, 2011, 10:27 am

        I never hear pop in MA, but I do hear either Soda, or Tonic.

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray November 17, 2011, 11:46 am

        Ha! My mom (and I guess the rest of us too) still says dinner and supper. Our Thanksgiving dinner will probably be at 1 ish and supper will be leftovers whenever people get hungry again.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl November 17, 2011, 12:34 pm

        Are they from the Pittsburg side of PA? I’m from the Philly side and we all say soda or coke, but everyone I know from Pittsburg says pop.

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      • avatar

        Morgan November 17, 2011, 12:46 pm

        pop is definitely a PA thing, especially pittsburgh area. Rest of the east coast you tend to get soda.

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B November 17, 2011, 1:17 pm

        They’re from the Wilkes-Barre/Kingston area. My aunt and uncle now live in Maryland, but they still say pop. My aunt also refers to her grandfather as “Pop” and her father as “Dad.”

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      • avatar

        Jess November 18, 2011, 2:16 am

        i grew up in pittsburgh and always called it pop. i didn’t realize it was such a regional thing! i noticed when i moved to another state everyone called it soda but I thought it was a north/south thing

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest November 17, 2011, 1:25 pm

        In my house, we prefer brunch and linner. No clock will hold us down! Plus its really funny to call it linner. (well, maybe just funny to my kid).

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      • avatar

        TheGirl November 17, 2011, 1:35 pm

        That is definitely not the case in the eastern part of PA. “Pop” is actually an Ohio thing which has spilled over into Western PA. I’ve lived in both places.

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      • avatar

        Emma November 17, 2011, 1:46 pm

        As someone from the middle of the country, I can safely say that I don’t know a single person there that says ‘pop’ over ‘soda’. If they say it, it’s usually only once in awhile. Occasionally, someone will say ‘Soda-pop’, but it’s usually in jest.

        I just moved to PA, and one of my friends from Jersey always calls in ‘food shopping’ rather than ‘grocery shopping’. It’s also ‘food store’ not ‘grocery store’.

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      • avatar

        silver_dragon_girl November 17, 2011, 3:24 pm

        Really?? I’m in the middle and everybody says pop. Everybody.

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      • avatar

        Nadine November 17, 2011, 4:17 pm

        I’ve never heard ‘sack’ by itelf, without ‘ball’ in front of it…. or nut.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 November 17, 2011, 10:25 am

        Well from being from the area I would say unless you were talking about a nap sack, or a bag made out of cloth, you would typically use bag for a paper or plastic “sack”. Or if you were talking about testicles you can say hey nice ball sack man, or hey nice ball bag, it works a lot more interchangeably in that regard.

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      • avatar

        6napkinburger November 17, 2011, 10:35 am

        Yup. On the east coast, a “sack” would either be made of fabric and something you carry like, apples or potatoes in, or a private part.

        Though my mom calls the thing you wheel around at the grocery store a “wagon” and apparently is the only one in the world to do so. I just thought that’s what they were called. Until people looked at me funny and were like, “you mean a shopping *cart*?” I still call it a wagon. Balls on them.

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      • avatar

        mcj2011 November 17, 2011, 11:08 am

        I call it a wagon too!

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      • avatar

        6napkinburger November 17, 2011, 11:26 am

        Where are you from??

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      • avatar

        mcj2011 November 17, 2011, 12:27 pm

        NYC area

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      • avatar

        6napkinburger November 17, 2011, 2:23 pm

        That’s where she’s from! She’s not crazy!

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl November 17, 2011, 12:37 pm

        Aparently in the south they call grocery carts “buggies” and tight fitting snow hats “toboggans.” I’ve started saying buggie…but I just can wrap my mind around toboggan, its a sled!

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      • theattack

        theattack November 17, 2011, 12:42 pm

        A toboggan is a sled? Definitely a knitted winter hat to me! And yes, I definitely put my groceries in a buggy!

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      • avatar

        thyme November 17, 2011, 1:10 pm

        You mean like a beanie? Toboggan has never been anything but a sled to me!

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray November 17, 2011, 3:47 pm

        Ahh, the great Olympic event of toboggans / knitted winter hats!

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark November 17, 2011, 1:13 pm

        That is strange. I’ve never heard it used to mean a hat either. Just google, toboggans, people. It’s a sled.

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      • avatar

        mcj2011 November 17, 2011, 1:49 pm

        agreed…i call a hat a hat and toboggans are sleds.

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      • avatar

        PamplemousseRose November 17, 2011, 2:43 pm

        Agreed – a hat is a hat… except when it’s a toque 😉

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      • avatar

        redessa November 17, 2011, 1:54 pm

        I grew up in Georgia. I say buggy, bag and coke (referring to all forms of soda). Pop had a whole different meaning (another term for an erection) but that may have just been my own group of perverted teenage friends LOL. I do use toboggan to mean a sled though. Never heard of it as a snow hat. Then again, we never got snow where I grew up so there was no need for a toboggan of either kind.

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      • avatar

        AKchic November 17, 2011, 12:25 pm

        *laugh*

        I found out that words change from region to region, but in Alaska – it’s a hodgepodge.
        We get soldiers and transplants from everywhere, so we see EVERYTHING.
        I never thought of myself as having an ‘accent’ before. When I went to New Jersey, I was told I had a “bastardized version of a California accent”. Occasionally, I do get a southern twang, which is odd in and of itself.
        When it comes to carbonized drinks, we hear the brand names, soda, pop, and even “soder”. It all depends on what the person grew up with, and if the person has worked in any kind of service industry (waitstaff and pendantic people tend to name the brands rather than a generic “pop” or “soda”).
        Generally, we have plastic bags. We also have gunny sacks. Really. Gunny sacks to haul fresh meat or large quantities of produce. But only if you bring your own to the specialty stores or if you go to a farm. We also have shopping “carts” or sometimes I’ll hear “carriage” (but usually if the person is on the military base/post).

        Anchorage (the city I’m in, the biggest in the state) is very diverse. There are over 100 languages spoken within the Anchorage School District (I think there are 126 listed languages spoken, but I’d have to check the website again). We are a hub for immigration, and we are one of the biggest international airports for the nation. I say this to give you an understanding of just how diverse our culture really is. Everyone assumes it’s just caucasians and “natives” (or “Eskimos”, which is really just one of many native sub-groupings).

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      • avatar

        TheOtherMe November 17, 2011, 1:31 pm

        Addie, you should move to Montreal,… In french bag is “sac” so you would have been correct here 😀

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      • avatar

        TheOtherMe November 17, 2011, 1:37 pm

        Also, we don’t say candy bar in Canada, we say chocolate bar, we’re weird that way …ehhh ?? <—— ( for LBH )

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      • avatar

        PamplemousseRose November 17, 2011, 2:46 pm

        I’m pretty sure that’s because there’s not enough chocolate in them in the US to be allowed to use the term chocolate bar instead…

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray November 17, 2011, 2:04 pm

        I’m going to start referring to balls, even American ones, as les sacs. Pas les couilles!

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    • avatar

      6napkinburger November 17, 2011, 11:03 am

      PS I love that the line at the top of the browser DOESN’T say balls. Way keep it safe for work, wendy, nice work.

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      • avatar

        thyme November 17, 2011, 1:11 pm

        Yes Wendy, thank you!

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  • avatar

    wendel November 17, 2011, 7:05 am

    Aren’t all balls wrinkly? I’d be pretty wierded out to see a pair of silky smooth danglers myself

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    • avatar

      honeybeenicki November 17, 2011, 7:12 am

      Well, that’s one helluva an image for this morning! But yeah, I think you’re right.

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    • avatar

      Kerrycontrary November 17, 2011, 7:26 am

      I think “saggy” would be more of an appropriate insult. I agree that all balls are wrinkly, but I have heard they swing lower with age. Just like breasts! Oh god its too early for this…

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    • Betsy

      Betsy November 17, 2011, 8:01 am

      “That man’s balls are as smooth as eggs!” – Dave Chapelle

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  • FireStar

    FireStar November 17, 2011, 7:06 am

    Wow. Is it me or are people’s families sounding a little too involved in the activities and anatomies of their children and their partners? It’s okay for extended family to talk about a boyfriend’s genitalia? Really? Even as a joke? Damn. The age difference will come with teasing – a satisfied smile usually can take care of that – but this type seems a little personal, no?
    I’m a fan of the awkward pause whenever someone says anything mind-bendingly stupid. No nervous laughter, no attempt at a smile – just a steady stare at them and then a change of topic. I find you don’t have to say anything to make someone feel stupid – a lot of times they can do that all on their own.

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    • avatar

      honeybeenicki November 17, 2011, 7:13 am

      My family gets all kinds of inappropriate like that. I’m used to it and they’re pretty good about not crossing lines and are sometimes on good behavior around new people. In my family, if we aren’t picking on you then you probably did something wrong. Normally we try not to deduce whether or not someone’s spouse’s balls are wrinkly, but we can get pretty crude.

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      • FireStar

        FireStar November 17, 2011, 7:26 am

        We tease in my family too – one of my favourite sounds is my husband and mother conspiring in the kitchen with their wicked laughter plotting against me – but this just seemed WAY over the line. But I guess you are right – each family has their own threshold for teasing.

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      • avatar

        honeybeenicki November 17, 2011, 8:25 am

        It definitely depends on the family. My family has very few boundaries, but there are certain ones we all know not to cross. Its a big, crude family 🙂 For example, I got a new pocket camcorder the other day and had posted something on facebook about my new toy and within a matter of minutes, I had tons of family members making all kinds of dirty jokes on there about what I had said.

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    • avatar

      Kerrycontrary November 17, 2011, 7:27 am

      I love the awkward pause idea. I’m going to do that now when people say “so when are you two getting married”. As of right now I say “never” just to piss them off.

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    • avatar

      wendyblueeyes November 17, 2011, 10:08 am

      My father-in-law called me “Blondie” (not so offensive) and “Needlebeak” (pretty offensive). My husband never said a word, even after I begged him to speak with his father. It stopped when I started calling the old geezer “Chrome Dome” for his shiny bald head. Thereafter it was Paul and Wendy.

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      • avatar

        thyme November 17, 2011, 1:14 pm

        That’s awesome. Hmm… I need to come up with a name for my a-hole brother in law…

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  • avatar

    honeybeenicki November 17, 2011, 7:11 am

    My husband is 10 years older than me and has 2 kids, one of which is only 11 years younger than I am. We get a lot of jokes all the time. At first it bugged me and I went with similar advice to this in just trying to head it up before any major event, but you know what? My family is full of jokesters. Every single one of us has this weird, sarcastic, dark sense of humor so I found the best way to deal with it was just roll with the punches. Hell, he and I even joke about our age difference sometimes.

    But, if jokes cross the line (like the wrinkly balls ones), you and your man need to stand up for yourselves and let people know that it is not ok. Something along the lines of “hey, I know you think you’re being funny, but that really crosses the line. I don’t mind jokes, but if you could just tone it down a bit…” and if all else fails, then “How ’bout them PACKERS?!” (Sorry, had to substitute the team there).

    Good luck. It is rough to deal with the age jokes sometimes and you will get it from the most unexpected people.

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie November 17, 2011, 8:29 am

    Another response would be to make a joke out of the uncle’s jabs. ie. “At least he has some.” or “At least he knows how to use them.”
    My goddaughter married a man that’s 10 years older then her 16 years ago. He’s a wonderful husband and father to their 2 children. She’s a very lucky girl and I like him very much and wish we lived closer to see all of them more often.

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  • avatar

    PFG-SCR November 17, 2011, 7:40 am

    I married into a family with several uncles who tease unmercifully whenever a new significant other is brought to a family function, so I can totally relate to this. If one of them said this to me, I’d probably reply with something like, “You may have an issue with that yourself, but his are perfect in my mouth”…not a response that everyone might feel comfortable making, but I lower myself to the crudeness level of others, if I know that they are just teasing.

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    • avatar

      Trixy Minx November 17, 2011, 8:12 am

      I love that response!

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      • avatar

        TheOtherMe November 17, 2011, 8:59 am

        Yes, I am also a big fan of the “one up-manship” type comments. If someone tries to shock me, I make sure to shock them back doubly.

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      • EscapeHatches

        EscapeHatches November 17, 2011, 12:05 pm

        Totally with you guys on the one-upping. My husband and I got married last week and were a little delayed getting to the reception because the photographer wanted just one.more.shot….

        My newly-minted brother-in-law posited that we were so delayed because of the sex we were surely having, to which I affected a horrified face and asked, “oh my god, did we not clean it all off?!? Is it in my hair?! Oh god it dries so sticky in my hair and won’t wash out…”

        Once he realized I was joking, he busted up laughing, I got a big ole hug and my husband got an ‘attaboy’ for bringing me into the family.

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  • avatar

    artsygirl November 17, 2011, 7:41 am

    LW – Assume that there will probably be initial ribbing, especially if your uncles like your partner and feel comfortable around him. As time goes on, it will die down because your age difference wont be news anymore. Just remember that if they have the familial right to tease and torment you then you have the equal right to tell them to lay off and respect your boundaries.

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  • JK

    JK November 17, 2011, 7:52 am

    LW, I think a lot of what should be donde actually depends on your BF. It sounds like your uncles usually act like this, so I do´nt think they´ll actually beahve around your BF.
    If he´s serious, and not likely to enjoy these “jokes” the best bet would probably be the silent stare recommended above. If on the other hand he is more jokey, as well, he could probably beat them at their own game. If they say something about his balls, he could answer “They´re quite nice actually, do you want me to show them to you?” or something like that. Of course then your uncles will either continue joking or they´ll shut up.
    This meeting sounds like it could set the stage for your BF´s interactions with your family from here on, so of course I would give him a heads up, maybe even think what your reactions (as a couple) will be.

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  • avatar

    blueskies November 17, 2011, 7:58 am

    Although your uncles are rude behind your boyfriends back, I highly doubt that they will have the BALLS to say anything so rude to his face. I think giving your boyfriend a heads-up is a good idea, but the fact that he’s 41 means he probably has enough life experience to let someone’s rude comments roll off his back! 🙂

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    • avatar

      TheOtherMe November 17, 2011, 9:02 am

      I agree Blueskies, on his side he might also be getting “cradle-robber’ type comments so I am sure he’s going to be prepared for a few more wise cracks.

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  • Budj

    Budj November 17, 2011, 9:07 am

    LW I think you are too nervous about this. With me not knowing your Uncles you reserve the right to ignore my input here, but if I had a sister and she was dating someone 20 years older than her…you better believe wrinkly balls would be busted on to her….but when I actually met him? I’d be polite and open-minded…I don’t think you have terribly much to worry about.

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    • bagge72

      bagge72 November 17, 2011, 10:04 am

      you would put your wrinkly balls on her! Eww! I agree though, I would like to think that those are just the types of jokes that are kept in the family, and people are much more considerate when they meet him in person, and as they get more comfortable with him then they can bust their wrinkly balls on him too. ;o)

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      • Budj

        Budj November 17, 2011, 10:41 am

        haha – good thing I don’t have a sister then. I still think the way I phrased it can be taken both ways…:P

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      • avatar

        honeybeenicki November 17, 2011, 10:18 am

        I’m glad I wasn’t the only one to catch that.

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  • avatar

    McLovin November 17, 2011, 9:10 am

    Wouldn’t her Uncles be roughly the same age, if not older, as her Dude?? If so that would seem silly to tease some guy about his huevos. Would make for some entertaining comebacks though.

    “My wrinkly balls? Wow, that’s easily the weirdest thing anyone has ever said to me the first time I’ve met them.”

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    • avatar

      rangerchic November 17, 2011, 9:25 am

      Yeah – maybe they are uncomfortable knowing she is dating someone closer to their age than her own. I know I would get teased about that.
      I once tried to date (I say tried b/c I was 15 and not technically allowed to date yet) a 21yo. My dad found out and was livid. I’ll never forget what he said “what does a 21 year old really want with a 15 year old?” Of course at the time I was just like whatever but now as an adult with a 16 yo daughter I totally get it.

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  • Jess

    Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com November 17, 2011, 8:49 am

    I agree with Fast Eddie.

    The best thing your man can do is to playfully jab back at them. Not only will he earn some respect, he’ll show that he can fit in with the family by playing their reindeer games… Conveniently, Eddie’s offered some great come-back lines!

    My boyfriend’s step dad is a big teaser, a grouch, and can be very intimidating. His mom and step dad don’t see my boyfriend often so even though I came along about a year after his last relationship, the step dad acted as if I was “just one of many.” My tactic was to dish it back out and show that I could play the game. I remember at a large family party that he poked fun at the appetizer I’d brought to the house. His teasing was a little snide and annoying but I let it roll off my back. Later at the party, after I watched several people walk over to eat some, I walked over to step dad and whispered, “Looks like you were wrong. My appetizer is beating all the other appetizers.” He stopped and looked at me with surprise for a few confused seconds and then finally burst out laughing. We spent the rest of the night secretly “scoring” the appetizer consumption and giggling in the corner. Now the family refers to us as “two peas in a pod” and my boyfriend is consistently amazed at how I managed to not only neutralize him but befriend him.

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  • Jess

    Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com November 17, 2011, 8:53 am

    As for the age thing, wow. I’m actually amazed by Billie’s experiences more than anything! I’ve dated older men on a few occasions but never had that level of ribbing.

    In the first case, I was 21 and dating a 28 year old. That was hard because his friends were discussing kids and mortgages and I was still finishing a college degree. But we were together for 5 years and things caught up over time. Soon enough I was working the 9-5, we got our own apartment and our lives started to look like everyone else’s so no one cared anymore. The age difference also seemed to shrink with time since. After college was over, we were both in the same life phase even if at opposite ends of it. By the time we parted ways, I may have outmatured HIM 😉 but that’s another story.

    At a later point in life, I dated someone 11 years my senior. I was 27 and he was 38. Although I didn’t feel any much external pressure necessarily (though it did feel weird that he was closer in age to my parents than me!), I ended up struggling mightily with the age gap. He was established and successful, in the prime of his career. I was in grad school and penniless. He had traveled the world. He’d had a lot of past experience with relationships. He’d already had a lot of “firsts” with other women. I found it hard to live up to his life even though there was no pressure at all coming from him. I found myself comparing and even, competing. I felt like I could never catch up and I felt stubborn about needing to establish something that *I* was better at. Eventually my insecurity was part of our undoing.

    I think age gaps can be a challenge (which wasn’t your question!) but there are mitigating factors which have to do with the size of the gap, the age of the younger person, and the stage of life you are in.

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  • avatar

    Fabelle November 17, 2011, 9:31 am

    My family’s pretty crude too, but I trust them not to joke in that way TO my S/O’s face! I think the LW should give her uncles the benefit of the doubt that they’d rein it in when her boyfriend actually comes to visit. People who tease do still know boundries, so they’d probably only get into “wrinkly ball” territory if they can tell your guy is a good sport (is he?)

    Also, if either you or him become truly offended, I don’t always think those perfect ‘I’ statements do the trick in a real setting? (“I feel as if you’ve crossed a line & would appreciate it if you keep the teasing at a minimum!”) I would probably keep my resonse to an exaggerated expression of horror and a simple, smiling “Oh WOW, Uncle___! You really went there?” or something like that.

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    princess bananahammock November 17, 2011, 10:18 am

    It may make this feel less personal to know that they’ve taken this joke from the Adam Sandler movie “Big Daddy.” So, I think it is more of a movie reference than a personal thing about your BF’s balls, though it’s still weird and offensive of them to say it to your face. Good luck and I hope you enjoy the holiday!

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      Rachel November 17, 2011, 11:20 am

      I don’t know about that. My friends in high school used to joke about “old balls” before that movie came out. But I agree it’s probably not personal, it’s just the most obvious thing to tease about since they haven’t met the guy yet.

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    evanscr05 November 17, 2011, 10:32 am

    My aunt married a man 16 years her senior probably 20 years ago or so. I was just a kid, so I’m not sure if there were any issues with the age gap among my family, though I imagine not as she was in her thirties and very well established in her own right. He fits in so perfectly into our family because of his personality, that even if it were an issue at one point, it absolutely is not any more. Honestly, though I can understand your concern, introduce him as you would any boyfriend and have a game plan in mind for how to react to any comments that are fired your way. Your reaction depends entirely upon YOUR family dynamics. If they are jokesters, then find ways to poke fun at yourselves and then change the subject. If you don’t make it a big deal, no one else will either.

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    6napkinburger November 17, 2011, 10:44 am

    Not to take this into weird territory, but I actually have the opposite thing happen to me a lot, where I actually AM out with my (actual) father, and people look at us like we are dating and make awkward faces or comments. Especially when I would go to work events with him (when my mom was doing other things or a couple of business trips, he just took me or me and my sister to warm places where the convention was). We’d be at a cocktail party and the person would be making awkward small talk until he introduced me as his daughter and they visably relax. We’ve gone out to dinner just the two of us, and you could see people looking. Its super duper awkward. So assumptions go all different directions.

    And I’m not going to lie, I’ve definitely played “daughter or girlfriend” before, where you people watch and try to figure out if the couples are father/daughter or lovers. In NYC, not hard to find subject matter to play it with.

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      lk November 17, 2011, 10:56 am

      LOL thank you, yes this used to happen to me ALL the time, especially when I was like 11, because we’d hold hands in the mall & I probably looked like 16 & he probably looked 30 – supercreepy LOL & people for sure let us know

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      evanscr05 November 17, 2011, 11:08 am

      That happened to one of my friends once in high school. Her dad took her to Walmart to go shopping and they were pushing the cart down an aisle (not even holding hands or anything that could make someone think they were a couple) and some woman came up to them and berated him for dating someone so young. Why would someone do that?? So rude and completely incorrect.

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        evanscr05 November 17, 2011, 11:11 am

        Hm. Now I’m curious if people have ever done this to me. I live in Virginia, not too far from DC, and my dad used to come to DC all the time for business trips, so I would meet him in the city and we’d always have dinner at this restaurant we loved. Then we’d get ice cream and walk around the city. I love my daddy-daughter dates, especially since I rarely see him. It’s always a blast to catch up with one of my favorite men of all time. I never noticed if anyone ever side-eyed me and questioned if we were dating. I wouldn’t be surprised, though. Glad no one ever approached us.

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B November 17, 2011, 11:02 am

    I know a couple with this problem. They had the best all-time comeback. When someone made a comment about him kissing his daughter that way, he replied, “Well, she needs to do something to earn her allowance.”

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      Nadine November 17, 2011, 4:25 pm

      Wow, that would stop me EVER making personal comments about people! EW!

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    AKchic November 17, 2011, 12:07 pm

    Oh I think I can help you here! My first husband was 14 years my senior, but looked old enough to be my father. Really. When holding OUR son, he was asked how he liked being a grandpa. He was 32. My youngest uncle at the time was 36. My mom was dating a 30 year old at the time (she was 40).

    Over the years, I’ve dated guys of various ages. Some older than my mother (boy was THAT an interesting “meet-the-mother” dinner).

    The best way to handle the jokesters is to out joke them. I’m assuming your uncles are around the same age as your beau, if not a few years older. This not only makes them a little wary, but also hopeful. Why? Well, for one thing, hopeful that if a guy THEIR age can get a female YOUR are, they have a chance too – but also wary because if a guy their age IS getting a female your age, it means that THEY ARE THAT OLD because they remember you in diapers and pigtails. Get the double-standard thinking here?
    They HAVE to crack jokes to try to come to terms with their own aging here.

    When they make the “wrinkly balls” joke, turn it back on them. Flat out ask them if their wrinkles have wrinkles yet, or if they’ve taken to ironing their “scrote”. Ask if they’ve started coming up with a “pube dye” yet so we can stop calling they “grey bush” behind their backs. Do it in a semi-low voice so the younger kids don’t hear you insulting them, but loud enough for the closest older ones to hear you and laugh.
    Or, say “why, you thinking of dating him?”. And bat your eyes innocently at your charming uncle. That you can at least say out loud for all to hear.
    Take the wind out of his sails with humor of your own. Let the boyfriend come up with, or say a few of his own. I’ve actually had one guy tell my sister (who was sniffing around because he was a geologist) say “no, I’m sorry, I iron my testicles and let your sister hang them in her closet so they don’t wrinkle”. I spit mashed potatoes halfway across the table with that one. Unfortunately, he wasn’t a keeper, he didn’t like kids much.

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    • bittergaymark

      bittergaymark November 17, 2011, 12:39 pm

      It IS rather interesting that none of these relationships with giant age differences worked out for you… Truth be told, I am NOT a big fan of age differences. Simply because the younger person usually grows up (as they tend to do) and realizes that what they wanted at 21 is not what they want at 25…

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        AKchic November 17, 2011, 2:14 pm

        *shrug* It is, but each relationship didn’t work for various reasons. If they had all ended for the same reason, that would be one thing, and a reason not to date people with a good age difference in general. Some were casual relationships where we had no intention of making them more formalized and long-term. A few of those guys did have the potential of being very good relationships. In fact, I’m still friends with some of them. For some of us, religion, children, views on marriage, politics, etc – we knew it just wouldn’t be a good match in the long run, so we chose to enjoy each other’s company rather than make it a short-term relationship and be miserable. I never said that I’d actually SLEPT with these friendly dates. What my family interprets is their own business, just as what I actually do is mine.
        The fact that none of them worked out as long-term romantic relationships for me is a minor footnote in my life. They didn’t work because of incompatibilities. Same with the majority of my relationships. Doesn’t mean that many of them still aren’t friends. For one of those guys, being his friend has given me a unique perspective about HIS choices in women. He chooses younger women because he feels he doesn’t have enough to offer women his own age because of his learning disability and low-wage job. He may look young (late 20s to early 30s when he is 40), but he sells himself short due to depression.

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        Dee November 17, 2011, 5:17 pm

        Or the older party gets, well, old. I got together with my hubby in his early forties. But now he’s nearly fifty and he doesn’t want sex and he flops in front of the TV for hours on end, watching re-runs of the same news he watched before work, and listened to on the way to work, and read on the net at work. His bladder control is iffy and he thinks that’s a normal part of getting older, not something to see a doctor about. I love him, but I’m late thirties and sometimes I feel like I’m with a seventy year old.

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        AKchic November 17, 2011, 7:15 pm

        Now see, that’s the whole “in sickness and in health” thing.

        I do understand your point though. My 1st husband ate terribly. He claimed that the food groups were “salt, grease, bacon, and fat”. At first, I tried to get him to eat better. Eventually, I begged the gods to let him die of a coronary so I could escape the marriage with relative ease. His idea of a “good meal” is two big macs with four packets of salt on each and a large order of fries with extra salt and the biggest soda possible. *shudder* Then eating half of your food because “you’re not going to eat that, are you?” (honestly, watching him eat would make ANYONE lose their appetite). It was no wonder that he was more than twice my weight when I kicked him out.

        At 50 though, a part of it could be aging, another part could be mid-life depression because of the failing body parts. A check-up IS in order. Men hate going for some reason. I think it’s society’s preconception that men are strong and don’t NEED a doctor for anything and that going to the doctor is for wimps, women, or only needed when you have a broken bone or a serious visible ailment.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark November 17, 2011, 12:25 pm

    Yeah, I can’t wait for this update. I simply can’t imagine the uncles will be so crass to your significant other right in front of him, right at the Thanksgiving table no less. I suppose, I could be very wrong on this. And lately, people seem to have thrown dignity, tact, and class right out the window. Hmmm, yeah. Hopefully, you are worrying needlessly, LW.

    If not, just tell your new man the truth. Your uncles mean well, teasing if often a way of welcoming people into the group (no, really — it is) but sometimes, well, they can also be real jerks…

    SIDENOTE: Um, I am 41. (Shocker! I know!) And I simply can’t imagine what some of my friends would probably say if I showed up at Thanksgiving seriously dating somebody who was 21. Or for that matter what I might say to one of my own friends who did the same. I’ll catch hell for this, I suppose. And yes, it’s a wee bit judgmental… That said I simply can’t imagine dating somebody who is only 21 at this point in my life. I really can’t. Sleeping with? Yeah, sure, maybe… But actually dating them seriously? Um, no. 21 year olds are simply NOT ready to settle down with anyone in my opinion, yet alone with somebody who has already lived so much of their life already. Most 21 year olds know, well, nothing… (If you are 21 and currently take great offense to this, wait twenty years and get back to me. No, seriously. Trust me on this…You WILL see what I mean and whole heartily agree when you, too, are 41.) And those are my thoughts on that… But then maybe it’s because 21 year old guys really are immature…

    All I’m trying to say here is that behind ALL that teasing is probably some genuine, real concern about what you are doing…

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      rangerchic November 17, 2011, 2:52 pm

      I agree with you on the age thing. We were just talking about that here at the office. I was 23 when I got married – my husband was 26. And I totally feel I was too young then. I’m 35 now and really am not the same person I was. I feel lucky my husband and I grew “together” so to speak because he has changed a lot as well.
      Most 21 yo really think they know who they are and what they want (and that is great – I was the same way) but throw life in the mix and so many things change. Just think back to when you were 16 – only 5 years ago and compare your life now to then.
      (not saying it won’t work but just agreeing that BGM about the concern they may feel).

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      PamplemousseRose November 17, 2011, 3:37 pm

      “All I’m trying to say here is that behind ALL that teasing is probably some genuine, real concern about what you are doing…”

      I completely agree. My 22 year old brother is dating a 55 year old man (who looks much older than that) and I just cannot fathom what they have in common at the different times in their lives (my bro is graduating from university and his dude is semi-retired – with kids older than my brother). I know this sounds super judgy – it’s really hard not to be. I would be *very* surprised if your parents are as accepting as you think they are. 20 years is much different that 6 or 10 or even 15.

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        6napkinburger November 17, 2011, 3:44 pm

        And there’s also a good chance that they’re scared you’ll shut them out of your life. I know at least one girl who, when her parents didn’t approve of her dating a guy older than her father, basically ran off with him. Only after grovelling and apologizing did she let them back in her life. Real issues like that tear families apart. So maybe they think its a phase and you’ll get over it. Maybe they think he’s genuinely good and has real feelings for you, so at least he isn’t just plain using you. Or maybe they just don’t want you to elope with someone who could very easily support you and you never talk to them again.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark November 17, 2011, 5:34 pm

        Money is one thing they probably have in common. One has it. The other likes it… That sounds harsh and judgmental, but it’s probably also very, very true…

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark November 17, 2011, 5:39 pm

        The above comment was more to PamblemousseRose about her brother…

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        PamplemousseRose November 18, 2011, 8:19 am

        We’ve thought about that. My brother has already got a great job for when he graduates in May, had scholarships to pay his way through and is super cheap so he’s probably the one with $$ 😉

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    • JK

      JK November 17, 2011, 3:50 pm

      Age differences are tricky, depending on the person, when I was 21 I had a r/ship with a 33 y.o, but we got on fine, etc.
      Now I´m nearly 33, and I could never imagine if I were single going out with a 21 year old. Probably not even a 25-28 year old.

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      Nadine November 17, 2011, 4:32 pm

      The age thing is funny. My boyfriend is a whole seven months older than me, so we have no probelms (in that area) but my best friend (who I’ll be living with in London in three weeks hurrah! Just had to throw that in there!) started dating her current boyfriend when we were 19 and he was i think 28? All our friends thought she had totally scored, and all his friends thought he had too! We also didnt think it would necessarily last, but it has, almost five years now, and I’m so impressed with the way they have managed to make a go of it. They have done everything an early twenties girl could want, travel, partying, and everyhting else, grown-up outings, friends weddings, becoming god-parents. I know this isnt twenty years, but I’l def be less judgy next time anyone I know does this.

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    • Lyra

      L November 17, 2011, 8:25 pm

      I was thinking the same thing. Though age *shouldn’t* matter since it’s just a number, yadda yadda…people who are with significant others near their same age are likely at the same stages in life. I’m only 23, but I assume people who are similar in age have similar goals and thus will be able to grow together easier. Thinking back five years to when I was 18, and I realize that I am a VERY different person now. Thinking ahead when I’m 25, 30, 35, I can only guess how much more I will grow through that time. I know people who have made relationships work with larger age differences, but I think it must be incredibly difficult at times…

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  • theattack

    theattack November 17, 2011, 12:45 pm

    How old are your uncles? Throw back a comment about THEIR balls. If they’re older or the same age as your bf, just say something like “I guess you already found out about wrinkly balls years ago, didn’t you Uncle Whatever?”

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    redessa November 17, 2011, 2:03 pm

    I get where you’re nervous about bringing a new guy to meet the family. Especially with uncles who say things like that. But at 41, I would certainly hope Dude’s got enough life experience and maturity to roll with it. Especially if you warn him ahead of time. That’s the beauty of getting a little older, you’ve learned (hopefully) what is and isn’t worth getting worked up over.

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    heidikins November 17, 2011, 4:17 pm

    “I haven’t noticed wrinkly balls because his dick is enormous.” That should shut them up for a minute, right? Boys get all defensive about their schlong, yes?

    xox

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    Nadine November 17, 2011, 4:35 pm

    I would just say, “Guess you would know, right?” which can be said in mixed company, and is sufficiently ambiguous, and isnt too complicated, so you can remember it/practise it beforehand. Having a comment prepared is great, but its so annoying, I always tongue-tied when its time to dish them out………

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  • Chicago-Dude

    DudeInChicago November 17, 2011, 5:31 pm

    What’s a 41yo doing dating a 21yo?
    I’m 31 and won’t even touch anyone younger than 26 much less one who just got their boozing card.

    Tripping.

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  • katie

    katie November 17, 2011, 8:42 pm

    LW, i feel like your uncles would do this no matter what. they are of course going to pick the obvious thing to make fun of, the age difference, but if there wasnt one… well, they would just latch onto something else and say difference innapporpriate things.

    just let your boyfriend know what he is walking into, and prepared with some good one-liners for them as well (their your uncles, right? you gotta know something!!) and have a good time! if he understands that these guys are just big, innappropriate jokesters (the best kind in my opinion), im sure its not going to be a big deal.

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  • avatar

    delilahgem December 4, 2011, 8:48 pm

    Yay! Nice to meet someone else from DE! Great advice.

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