When a daughter is 17, Dad ferociously guards her virtue against a chorus line of pubescent predators. I used to hide in the bushes with a fire hose. If any boy dared to leer at my princess, I’d blast him down the storm drain.
But when a daughter turns 27, is not married, isn’t dating, and lives with Mom and Dad, it’s a whole new ballgame. About the time our last cat died and Tammy and I were grinning in anticipation of an empty nest, our daughter announced, “I like it here. I think I’ll live with you the rest of my life.”
I bolted to my laptop and frantically pounded out a plea on eBay: “Husband wanted for daughter. Pulse preferred but not required. Will write amazingly generous dowry check.” A dowry would set us back a pretty penny, but what price can you put on your baby’s happiness?
She started dating shortly thereafter.
When the girls were in high school and came home from dates, I flooded the porch with Klieg lights, a security camera and a pair of pit bulls. For this daughter, I made sure the porch light didn’t work and I held off on the dogs. I figured there would be a better chance for romance if the guy didn’t run home screaming, half-blind with skin blisters and a few parts missing.
It was a proper courtship. The first several dates ended early and progressed from handshakes to bashful hugs and, eventually, to innocent pecks on the cheek.
You’re probably wondering how I know this. I was hiding in the bushes. Again. This time it wasn’t to catch them doing something wrong. It was to make sure they were making progress.
Before long, the brain-scrambling cocktail of infatuation juices kicked in. It’s embarrassing to see a grown man giggle like a cheerleader. To him, our daughter gleamed like Lady Gaga. She wasn’t any better. She flopped around the house in a 24/7 swoon, babbling something about her Sir Lancelot, her knight in shining gym shorts.
I told my wife that there is no way that we were that goofy when we were courting. She gave me the well-practiced glare she uses when I’ve said something stupid. That’s when she rolls her eyeballs so far back into her head that she looks like a sea creature at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. I made the mistake of telling her that. Once. The subsequent month that I spent in a monastery made me a better man.
Lancelot and Gaga came out of their fog long enough to get legally leashed in a bash that cost almost as much as a Mitt Romney haircut. I didn’t have the heart to tell the groom that we paid for it out of his dowry check.
My sensitive wife sneezed out a few sniffles as our daughter and her new man trampled the guests in a rush to start their honeymoon. Oh, OK, I admit to having mixed emotions about the last kid moving out — happy and ecstatic!
As we cruised home from the reception, Tammy said, “Oh, honey, by the way, my mom and dad are going to stay with us for a few months.”
I wonder if I can have my old room back at the monastery.
Larry Alan Brown is a resident of Alpine, Utah. Email: email@example.com