My girlfriend’s dad loves to boast that whenever her ex-boyfriend Paul used to call the house, he’d shout ‘Poep-Paul’s on the phone for you’ at the top of his lungs before laughing gleefully and high-fiving her mom. As much as poor old Paul must have cringed every time he heard it, there was absolutely nothing he could do. See, that’s the golden rule about meeting your girlfriend’s dad – you’ve got to laugh at his jokes, even if you’re the butt end of them. If I ever meet Paul, I’ll be able to commiserate though, ’cause I’ve been the butt end of her dad’s jokes too. The first time I went over to my girlfriend’s house, I crossed paths with her father on his (naked) way from the shower to the main bedroom, and promptly got mooned for my troubles. I can’t be sure (after all, I was in shock), but I think I heard him laughing gleefully and high-fiving her mom from behind the bedroom door shortly afterwards.
Meet the parents
While the only thing you’re worried about when we meet your parents for the first time is whether they’ll embarrass you by saying something stupid, we have to worry about a lot more than that. Moms usually aren’t too bad – as long as we don’t have safety pins pierced through our eyebrows and don’t look as though we have a drug habit, your mom is probably content to sit back and remember how she and her first love, Neville, used to sit in the back at the movies and hold hands. We can work with that. But fathers are a whole different ball game. Your father, no matter how old he is, can remember what it was like to be a single guy and so he knows exactly what goes through the mind of a single guy when he manages to find a hot girl who’s into him. He knows that no matter how decent and well mannered we seem, some of those thoughts are a little dirty. And the rest of them are very dirty. The last thing he wants is some little schmuck thinking those things about his princess.
The joke’s on us
This is something that doesn’t really change from the time you’re 13 to when you move out of the house, with the exception that he knows you can’t get up to too much when you’re 13, because with each of you having braces you run the risk of dying from extensive blood loss as soon as anyone even thinks about kissing with tongue. From 15 onwards, however, when the braces are off and the pimples have eased back a fraction is when your dad really kicks into gear. And he’s got two choices on how he goes about it – he can either go old school and meet every one of your prospective boyfriends at the front door with his shotgun and his ‘Do you feel lucky, punk?’ routine or he can take the more sneaky, devious route and pretend that he’s cool with us, by making jokes. And that’s far, far worse.
See, by the time we meet you, you’ve probably been dating for a while. So your dad’s got experience by now. He’s a clever guy. He knows that the second he goes the hard-core Clint Eastwood route, we become part of your rebellion against everything he’s ever told you. The fact that he doesn’t like us makes us hot. But by inviting us in with open arms, making it seem as if we’re the best of friends, and at the same time subversively undermining us with little jokes at our expense (knowing full well that we can’t really say anything back), he makes us seem like little more than one of his fat, balding golfing buddies. There’s nothing hot about any of his fat, balding golfing buddies. And he knows it.