Dads on Duty


I recently had the pleasure of attending a friend’s wedding and hearing the father of the bride make a fantastic speech about meeting the groom for the first time. He first recounted the story of meeting his own wife, the bride’s mother, and immediately being thrown off-kilter by her penchant for warm hugs, a concept that had previously been lost on him. A couple of decades – and five daughters – later, he had become a seasoned pro at the fine art of hugging, when one of the girls announced that she was bringing home a boy. Her dad decided to greet the new boyfriend by enveloping him into a big bear hug, almost terrifying the poor kid into fleeing back to New York. (FYI, her dad is about 6’3.) And yet, not only did said boyfriend stick around, but he also went on to marry the daughter, ensuring himself a lifetime of trademark family embraces!

Stories of dads meeting significant others are never without incident, or at least some degree of awkwardness. In my experience, the majority of fathers adopt one of two policies: they either attempt to bond with the guys, or simply ignore them until they transition to more serious status of long-term partner or fiancé. My own dad, who falls into the second category, has always maintained a nonchalant-yet-intimidating stance that has scared many a guy into avoiding him altogether. He claims to be saving all his energy and friendliness for my future husband, making him the last family member to believe that this is even a possibility.

In honor of Father’s Day, I asked my friends to share some of their own most memorable episodes of fathers meeting their kids’ significant others for the very first time!

“I’m originally from Moscow, but my boyfriend is as American as they come. When things started getting more serious between us, I invited him to come with me to Russia to meet my family. The first thing my dad and his friends did when we arrived to our dacha (country house) was kidnap him and take him to the banya, the infamous Russian bathhouse where men alternate vodka shots with steam room sessions. Hours later, my heart dropped when I saw two of my dads friends carrying my poor, plastered boyfriend out of the banya. It turned out that he had tried keeping up with the Russian men shot-for-shot, until he finally blacked out in the middle of the 100-degree bathhouse. The funny thing is, he quickly recovered and actually loves going to Moscow with me now!”

“My dad always tries to make my girlfriends feel really comfortable, which is nice, except that he is bad with names. He went two hours calling one girl by the name of a distant ex, after which I had to spent two hours explaining that I wasn’t double-timing her!”

“I’m gay, which my dad was always been pretty cool about. Then, one day, I announced that I was bringing my boyfriend home from Paris for the holidays. (My parents live in Brazil.) My dad knew that my boyfriend was a photographer, so he kept on trying to discuss art, which he knows nothing about. Thankfully, they bonded over a shared love for football, their main topic of conversation to this very day.”

“I was dating a guy and had no idea he lived with his parents. On the morning after the first night we slept together, I wandered into the kitchen IN HIS CLOTHES, only to find his dad sitting there with his coffee and newspaper. The weird thing is, he acted really happy to see me and insisted that I stay for breakfast, which turned into an entire day of random family activities. I actually ended up liking the family far more than the guy.”

“I first took my (now) husband to my dad’s birthday party at a Russian restaurant in Brooklyn. Talk about total immersion. My parents don’t speak much English, so I translated the whole thing. My dad really liked him and the conversation was great – until I could no longer keep it up and it started getting too confusing. Needless to say, my husband is now learning Russian.”

“I have a young dad who thinks he’s really cool – imagine a the Russian version of Regina’s Mom from Mean Girls. When my high school boyfriend came over for the first time, he sat him down, handed him a beer, and started talking to him about tech raves. I had visions of social services coming to arrest him but, of course, my boyfriend loved him.”

And now, your turn! Share your stories in the comment section below!

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