When I was in high school I used to be terrified of my girlfriend's father,
who I believe suspected me of wanting to place my hands on his daughter's chest.
He would open the door and immediately affect ma good-naturedly murderous
expression, holding out a handshake that, when gripped, felt like it could
squeeze carbon into diamonds.
Now, years later, it is my turn to be the dad. Remembering how unfairly
persecuted I felt when I would pick up my dates; I do my best to make my
daughter's suitors feel even worse. My motto: Wilt them in the living room and
they'll stay wilted all night.
"So," I'll call out jovially. "I see you have your nose pierced. Is that
because you're stupid, or did you merely want to APPEAR stupid?"
As a dad, I have some basic rules, which I have carved into two stone tablets
that I have on display in my living room.
Rule One: If you pull into my driveway and honk you'd better be delivering a
package, because you're sure as heck not picking anything up.
Rule Two: You do not touch my daughter in front of me. You may glance at her,
so long as you do not peer at anything below her neck. If you cannot keep your
eyes or hands off of my daughter's body, I will remove them.
Rule Three: I am aware that it is considered fashionable for boys of your age
to wear their trousers so loosely that they appear to be falling off their hips.
Please don't take this as an insult, but you and all of your friends are
complete idiots. Still, I want to be fair and open minded about this issue, so I
propose this compromise: You may come to the door with your underwear showing
and your pants ten sizes too big, and I will not object. However, In order to
assure that your clothes do not, in fact, come off during the course of your
date with my daughter, I will take my electric staple gun and fasten your
trousers securely in place around your waist.
Rule Four: I'm sure you've been told that in today's world, sex without
utilizing a "barrier method" of some kind can kill you. Let me elaborate: when
it comes to sex, I am the barrier, and I WILL kill you.
Rule Five: In order for us to get to know each other, we should talk about
sports, politics, and other issues of the day. Please do not do this. The only
information I require from you is an indication of when you expect to have my
daughter safely back at my house, and the only word I need from you on this
subject is "early."
Rule Six: I have no doubt you are a popular fellow, with many opportunities to
date other girls. This is fine with me as long as it is okay with my daughter.
Otherwise, once you have gone out with my little girl, you will continue to date
no one but her until she is finished with you. If you make her cry, I will make
YOU cry.
Rule Seven: As you stand in my front hallway, waiting for my daughter to
appear, and more than an hour goes by, do not sigh and fidget. If you want to be
on time for the movie, you should not be dating. My daughter is putting on her
makeup, a process which can take longer than painting the Golden Gate Bridge.
Instead of just standing there, why don't you do something useful, like changing
the oil in my car?
Rule Eight: The following places are not appropriate for a date with my
daughter: Places where there are beds, sofas, or anything softer than a wooden
stool. Places where there are no parents, policemen, or nuns within eyesight.
Places where there is darkness. Places where there is dancing, holding hands, or
happiness. Places where the ambient temperature is warm enough to induce my
daughter to wear shorts, tank tops, midriff T-shirts, or anything other than
overalls, a sweater, and a goose down parka zipped up to her Adam's apple.
Movies with a strong romantic or sexual theme are to be avoided; movies which
feature chainsaws are okay. Hockey games are okay.
My daughter claims it embarrasses her to come downstairs and find me
attempting to get her date to recite these eight simple rules from memory. I'd
be embarrassed too--there are only eight of them, for crying out loud! And, for
the record, I did NOT suggest to one of these guys that I'd have these rules
tattooed on his arm if he couldn't remember them. (I checked into it and the
cost is prohibitive.) I merely told him that I thought writing the rules on his
arm with a ball point might be inadequate--ink washes off--and that my wood
burning set was probably a better alternative.
One time, when my wife caught me having one of my daughter's would-be suitors
practice pulling into the driveway, get out of the car, and go up to knock on
the front door (he had violated rule number one, so I figured he needed to run
through the drill a few dozen times) she asked me why I was being so hard on the
boy. "Don't you remember being that age?" she challenged.
Of course I remember. Why do you think I came up with the eight simple rules?

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