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Q: Years ago, when I was a divorced single dad raising two young kids, we got an invitation to attend a wedding in Chicago. The bride's parents were cousins I hadn't heard from in more than 20 years. I replied that we would be glad to attend. I was excited.

Boy, was I wrong!

At the reception, I was seated with some couples and some single women, all of whom seemed to know each other.

An aunt approached and asked me to join the family in a side room. When I entered, the men patted me on the back and the women told me that the lady I had been seated next to had decided that I would be an acceptable husband for her! I was then told they would make the wedding arrangements.

At first I thought they were joking. Then I realized they were serious. I told them I wasn't going to pull my kids out of school, sell my house, quit my job, move to another city and marry a woman I had never met before. I said the idea was insane and insulting.

I was told that because they had gone out of their way to arrange this match, my refusal was selfish. Angry, I took my kids and left.

My children are now on their own, and I'm involved with a wonderful lady. We have been invited to a family gathering in L.A., which will be attended by the group from Chicago. My lady friend has been pressing me to meet more of my family. I'm afraid to introduce her because I'm afraid she'll see how crazy my relatives are and reject me. What should I do?

Happy in San Diego

A: At first, I thought you and your family came from some other culture. Then I called you, just to make sure, and learned that you are third-generation American.

Under no circumstances should you take your girlfriend to meet these relatives unless you first explain to her in detail what you told me. She needs to understand why she may get a cool reception.

Universal Press Syndicate