My dad is a very wise man. He knows when to keep his mouth shut, which is pretty much whenever it comes to my love life. On other fronts he is and always has been very vocal — even a little bit hot headed. It’s the Brooklyn in him. In high school, when I got into a kerfuffle with one of my teachers, he showed up at her office and told her to “pound sand.” He did this without my permission and I was mortified. In college, when the storage unit where I was housing my stuff for the summer tried to swindle me, he called up the owner and threatened to hang the guy “from a flagpole by his underwear.” This is my dad’s favorite threat. Apparently, he actually did this to one of his campers when he was a counselor back in high school. He’s very proud of this.
But throughout my life, while meeting various boyfriends or hearing about them, he hasn’t given a single opinion. He hasn’t told any of them to pound sand or threatened to hang a single man who screwed me over from a flagpole by his underwear (although there were probably a few who deserved it). He has remained miraculously neutral. This is why I remember the three times he offered up dating advice. And I shall recount them for you…
1. “Guys don’t really know what they want, they need someone to help them figure it out.” This nugget came up about four years ago. I was dating this guy and after about six months, he told me he wasn’t sure how he felt about me. I called my parents up. I don’t know why. It’s not something I normally do. I just so happened to this time. I was talking to my mom about it and she only uses speaker phone, so my dad could hear the whole conversation from the other room. I was mid-sentence when he shouted, “Guys don’t really know what they want, they need someone to help them figure it out.”
The boyfriend and I ended up breaking up that very day. But what my dad said was deep and it stuck with me. Men do get really confused about relationships. Obviously, women do too, but in totally different way. We talk about it. And I think what my dad meant was that men don’t talk about their confusion as much and therefore, have a harder time figuring it out. Well, that’s how I’ve been interpreting it, at least.
2. “Your time for love will come. But publish your book first.” At least my dad still believes there’s hope for me, even when I don’t. He said this to me at my younger brother’s wedding last year. (That’s a picture of my dad and I at the wedding above.) It was a lovely event and I had an amazing time, but my Grandma was my date. Also, an agent who was interested in my book had just emailed me to turn me down. No offensive Gram, I had a blast drinking wine with you in the hotel room, but I was feeling a little low. On the way to the rehearsal dinner, my dad put his arm around me and said this. It was incredibly touching and I am choosing to believe that he’s right.
3. “If you keep working so hard, the guys you meet are going to think they’re not important.” This observation was made by my dad a few months ago when I went home to visit. He picked me up at the airport and we were talking about work. And I was telling him how busy, burned out, tired I was. Blah, blah, blah. He said he hoped I was making some time in my schedule to exercise and have fun. By “have fun,” he meant date. The rest of the conversation went like this:
Me: I don’t have time to date.
Dad: If you keep working so hard, the guys you meet are going to think they’re not important.
Me: But they’re not.
Dad: OK then, keep doing what you’re doing.
Me: OK. I will. I’m glad we had this chat.
So, I kind of shot him down, but there was truth in what he said. However, Dad, let the record stand: If someone important pops up in my life, I will go out of my way to make time for him.