My father had a hard “no dating until you’re sixteen” rule which I thought was extremely unfair…until I became a father. Now, I’m SURE it was too lenient; I’m somewhere between thirty and a first issue AARP card.
“Dad, there’s a dance at school. I think we’re getting graded on it.”
“Graded on a dance?” he asked.
“Yeah that’s how they do it now; might have something to do with the new math.”
“New math huh…you’re fourteen, you gotta bring a date?”
Yup, it’s mandatory from what I understand.”
Yeah well any reports of you doing anything other than holding this little girls hand and your life is over…you with me?”
“Probably won’t even hold hands. I heard you get points off for stuff like that.”
“Listen Mr. graded on it; if you only remember one thing about this discussion, let it be this. Your integrity is the foundation for a life others can depend on; it has nothing to do with what you do when people are watching; it’s about doing the right thing, even if it costs you or causes you pain, when there’s no one else there to see you do it.”
“What kind of man are you gonna be? Dances and such are the proving ground for answers to that very question. It’s difficult for me to understand what passes as manhood for you and your friends these days. As far as I can see you’re all stuck somewhere between Clint Eastwood and Richard Simmons. Do you even know what makes a man, a man?”
“Let me tell you” he said. “A man will never be a man because of his looks or how many pushups he can do. It won’t be because of his foul language or how many people he can beat up. It’s what’s in his heart that determines his nature.
In all situations a man considers himself last; he doesn’t grope at women or tell dirty jokes. He keeps his thoughts and his mouth clean, and he works hard. He takes pride in what he does and always lends a hand. He loves his wife forever because he said he would in front of God, and he won’t compromise her feelings by looking at other women. He goes to church because he loves the Lord and his beliefs are set in stone.
Now, can you make sure this poor girls’ father won’t have to stay up all night worried about who she’s with?”
I stood silent for a moment, staring…captured by his words.
“Dad, they’re not grading this dance, this girl is just really pretty and instead of sneaking I wanted to do this above ground. I’m not a conniver. I promise you AND her father you can count on me.”
“Alright, we’re gonna try you out” he said. “Don’t lemme down.”
I saved my paper route money for six months so I’d have enough to treat her like a queen. I got to the restaurant early and spent most of that time fidgeting with a spoon. I was sweating a bit but beside myself with the grown up nature of it all.
Then the door opened…I dropped the spoon.
She was beautiful; the catch your breath kind, like flight in a lucid dream. She wore a soft pink dress with a black lattice choker and her shoes had heels, all womanly and mature; I quietly addressed my hormones…”KNOCK IT OFF!”
As she approached beaming her perfect smile, I wanted her to know what kind of a man I had recently decided to become. I wanted her to know about my newfound integrity and that she was safe tonight. I wanted her to know I wasn’t going to try anything cheesy so she wouldn’t have to arm herself or hold vigil against sneaky moves meant to remove clothing or compromise virtue. I would be the model of chivalry tonight, wholesome and disciplined in my endeavors and totally without agenda.
I ended my speech looking like a knight standing in the “sword drawn” position. The confused look on her face slowly gave way to a toothy smile that showed appreciation for my concern.
“Well, Sir Anthony” she said. “I think you’re wonderful. Now pucker up!”
Best first date ever!
ANthony F Wobbe