My daughter had a boyfriend.
I could stop right there and you probably know the rest of this story, right? It's as old as stand-up comics and daily columnists. Cleaning the shotgun in the livingroom right at the moment he arrives to pick her up for a date. Leaving an axe, a shovel and a plastic drape on the front porch, in plain sight. Floodlights in the front yard that come on automatically at curfew. Sprinkler systems that come on automatically precisely five minutes after curfew.
You know, the usual ways fathers intimidate boyfriends.
Except, I'm not the usual father. I'm...what you might call eccentric. For this reason (and probably many others), I'm typically the last person to know when one of my daughters is dating someone new. My family prefers to procrastinate the moment I come face to face with the mark (my term for “boyfriend”) as long as possible. This includes my wife and son. They all conspire to keep me at arms length.
My closest loved ones are not doing this out of fear that I'll hurt the young man. They are not worried about the shotgun, the axe or the shovel. I don't even have a shotgun. What I have is something much worse.
You see, I learned a long time ago that fear is the best tool for keeping aspiring Romeos at bay; but not fear of physical harm. No, the fear I instill is much more powerful: Embarrassment.
Here are some pointers:
Start by finding him on every social media site you can, and invite him to be your “friend”. Comment on everything he does or says. Poke him a lot.
Get his phone number and text him constantly.
Invite him over to the house, then ask him to help clean out your daugther's car because you're pretty sure he helped mess it up.
Poke him some more.
Every time another girl's name comes up in conversation or on one of the social media sites, ask him “Who's she? Does my daughter know about her?” Send the same question to the girls whose names came up. Send them invitations to be friends, too.
Friend the boy's parents. Ask them lots of questions. Publicly, not privately. Poke them.
Type “lol” all the time. Say “lol” out loud a lot.
Poke the girls whose names came up.
Show up places they go on dates. The movies are really good. There's nothing like popping up from behind them during the trailers to ask if they want some popcorn. My daughters now lie about which movie they are going to see and the theater they are going to see it at, so this one only works once or twice—use it wisely.
Politically, take stances he can't possibly agree with you on. Be outraged on the ban against killing baby seals for their pelts. Go on and on about how pollution is actually good for the environment.
Find out what the mark's father does for a living and rail against that profession as often as you possibly can.
Start building an ark in your front yard. Take his measurements every time he comes over.
Follow him around in your car sometimes. Especially if he's walking.
Show up where he works. Ask for things you know he can't provide. For instance, if he works in fast food go through the drive-thru and order one french fry. Make a scene and ask to speak to the manager. Then pretend you only just realized that this is your daughter's boyfriend and withdraw your complaint.
Repeat at his next job.
Search his car from time to time—make sure you're seen doing it.
Sometime when the mark is visiting at your house, borrow his keys and get copies made. Next time you visit at his house (which should be often), let yourself in with your key to the front door.
Start posting lots of pictures on his social media pages—of yourself.
Poke him and everyone he knows some more.
Cheat at everything. Cards, boardgames, golf, coin tosses; anything you can possibly win by cheating.
Start calling him “son”.
Last, but not least, ask him to be your prayer partner.
I realize this sounds like a lot of effort, but trust me, if you put some elbow grease into it he will vote himself off the island and you too will one day be able to say: “My daughter had a boyfriend.”
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