Humor by John Christmann

A Valentine's Day Massacre

Gollum with his hands over his ears.

On rare occasions, usually when my wife is not at home, my kids sometimes ask for my opinion on current social topics that are capturing their attention. For example, my son the other day asked me why Bruce Jenner wants to become a woman.

This is the reason why my kids usually go to their mom.

But I was really shocked recently when my daughter wanted to ask me a few questions about dating. She is fifteen.

Ok, shocked is probably not the right description. More like crapping in my pants.

I had no idea what she wanted to ask me, but I was ready with my responses, all of which began with No.

I have dreaded this day for a long time; the inevitable day when boys capture her attention. The day when I will have to rock silently in a chair on my front porch cradling a shotgun full of buckshot to frighten away the young dandies who come to our door asking to take my daughter to a drive-in theater.

This is how it is done in the movies anyway.

But the real problem is that I have no idea what dating means to a fifteen-year-old. I didn’t even know what dating meant to a fifteen-year-old when I was fifteen years old.

My kids tell me that dating at this age is nothing more than boys and girls going out in groups to the mall or a movie or a chaperoned party. But once when my older son was sixteen I picked him up after hanging with some friends one evening and he jumped in the car nervously concealing his neck with a heavy scarf.

It was summer.

That’s how I found out he had a girlfriend.

But my immediate fears subsided substantially after my daughter explained that she needed to ask me a few questions as part of a homework assignment. The purpose of the assignment was to gain the point of view of a trusted adult on issues related to teenage dating and romantic relationships.

I was actually pleased that she assumed I had some experience with this topic when I was a teenager.

Q: When you were a teenager did you ever talk to your parents about dating?

A: No, I was too embarrassed. Nothing brings out the awkwardness of teenage dating more than talking with parents. But nothing can help you navigate the confusion faster than talking about it. If you don’t want to talk to me, talk to someone you trust.

Better yet, talk to someone I trust.

Q: How old were you when you first went on a date?

A: I was old enough to want to date. I was courageous enough to pick up a telephone, dial a telephone number, announce myself, and ask a girl I liked if she wanted to go to a movie. I was strong enough to persevere through the long expressionless pause that followed and the subsequent doubt as to whether she said yes because she wanted to go out with me or because she was too polite to say no.

And of course, I was old enough and mature enough to engage a girl in conversation.

That is why I didn’t date much in high school.

Q: When did you first kiss someone romantically?

It was long after I desired to, immediately after I was allowed to, and minutes before I was ready to. You will know when you desire to kiss someone. You will know when you are allowed to kiss someone. But you won’t know if you are ready to kiss someone until it is over.

You are only really ready to kiss someone when you both want to do it again. Kissing is funny that way.

Q: At what age did you learn about sex and contraception? Was the information accurate?

A: What? What class is this for, anyway? I can’t believe you are asking me this.

OK, OK. I was probably your age or younger when I learned. But I didn’t know it was accurate for many many years after that. Decades even. Maybe centuries. I don’t remember.

Q: At what age do you think it is appropriate for kids to have . . .

A: NO! STOP! LA LA LA LA LA LA . . . I can’t hear you . . .

Q: DAD! I am asking when it is appropriate for kids to have parties! My friend is having one Saturday night. Her parents are home and there will be boys there. I have a ride. Can I go? Pleeeasse?

A: But Saturday is Valentines Day. Your mom and I are going out on a date!

Q: A date? At your age? Where are you going? Will there be other adults there? Do I know any of them? How are you getting there? How are you getting home? How do I know you will be safe? Will you text me when you get there? And text me when you are leaving?


Q: So I can go?