I remember the afternoon I first told my parents I had a boyfriend. A real boyfriend, not just some celebrity boyfriend who lived in my imagination, inspired by the pictures I tore out of the latest copy of Teen Beat and tacked to my bedroom walls.
Here's looking at you River Phoenix, may you rest in peace.
I was fifteen years old and swoony over a big blue-eyed blonde boy named Bruce. (I always did have a weakness for alliteration.) I was spending the week with my best friend, who just so happened to be Bruce's cousin and I was excited to tell my folks all about my new beau.
In my teenaged exuberance, I hadn't stopped to take into account how my parents, most specifically my father, would feel about their daughter entering the dating world. I ignorantly thought they'd be as excited as I was. Because! Hearts! Flowers! True Love! Forever!
Since the boy who held my affection happened to be my father's best friend's youngest son, a boy my family had known his entire life, I naturally assumed there would be much praise and congratulations bestowed when I told my parents my wonderful news.
I stood, holding the telephone to my ear, grinning from ear to ear, staring out upon the same fields my father had stared at when he was my age, and waited for one of my parents to answer the ringing phone.
My dad picked up.
I launched into my excited tale, words shot like rapid-fire bullets into his ear, as tiny invisible hearts swirled above my head.
My dad? He made about as much noise as a rock does as it sits in a driveway. I barely noticed as I chattered on. Innocent and so, so stupid.
When I finally managed to stop long enough to inhale, my dad asked a question I had not expected:
"Why him? What's so special about him?"
You could say familiarity had bred contempt. You could say my father had maybe hoped I'd date a city slicker instead of the son of his oldest friend. You could even say I had probably shocked him into not really knowing what else to say. Any of this could be true. Perhaps all of it was.
All I knew was it wasn't the reaction I was expecting. I didn't know how to answer; so shocked and stunned was I by his question.
I muttered something completely inelegant and trite, as were most of the things that came out of my mouth at that age tended to be and I staggered under the weight of my dad's obvious disapproval.
My love bubble had burst. Thanks Dad.
I had forgotten that conversation with my father, and the words he said. I had forgotten his reaction and how, for one second, it made me question everything I had been feeling towards the boy I later ended up marrying.
That conversation, that memory, had long been relegated to the dustiest corners of my brain, eroding a little further with each day that passed.
And then my daughter started dating a boy she has known for most of her life, the son of a man my husband has known for much of his life. Suddenly, memories I didn't remember I had have all come flooding back to center stage.
Nostalgia has washed over me, bathing me in the past, reminding me that the innocence I see upon my daughter's face was once mirrored on my own.
Is it wrong that I covet the boyfriend's truck? Complete with haybale for traction?
I never fully realized how soothing nostalgia is as a parental balm. It's probably the only thing that is keeping me from walking around screaming "Bad touch! Bad touch!" every time I see my daughter's boyfriend so much as look at my daughter.
(Okay, so I may have already yelled 'bad touch!' once or twice at them, but it was all in good fun. Maybe.)
But what I've come to realize as my daughter starts to explore her dating world, is that nostalgia isn't such a soothing balm for Bruce. It is more like Tiger's balm. The nostalgia and memories, they burn. Or maybe it is just that daddies are predisposed to growling about their daughter's boyfriends, regardless of how awesome those boyfriends may be.
I am fully enjoying watching my husband navigate this minefield my daughter has so thoughtfully lured him into. It's given me insight into my own father's reactions all those years ago. Because yes, I really did marry my father.
My husband hasn't stopped twitching in weeks. And these two kids haven't even been on a real, un-chaperoned date as of yet.
If and when that finally happens? Well, I can't guarantee I won't be twitching right along with Bruce. Probably while reminding him that it was all our "bad touches" that lead us to this moment to begin with.
Heaven help us all.