There is an inevitability of having a daughter. That they go from learning to ride a bike to reaching for the car keys seems like a blink of an eye. One day I realized that my own daughter, Morgan, looked more like her momma than the tomboy she was, and I knew one thing as fact: pretty soon the boys would be calling.
I had been thinking about how to handle this situation for quite some time. I thought about it while standing in the rushing, waist-deep water of the early season trout stream. I thought about it while chasing bird dogs through the uplands and fields. I thought about it while laying in a coffin blind, with the rain pouring and the waves pounding nearby, on a fruitless hunt for brant along the coast. Even after months of pondering, the simple answer was that when the boys started calling, I didn’t have a stinking clue what I would do.
Sharpening a knife upon a gentleman suitor’s arrival was standard operating procedure. So was the cleaning of a rifle, shotgun, or pistol; those were all clichés, too. I inherited a pair of nunchakus straight from their birthplace of Okinawa, and swinging a pair might add enough fanfare to be somewhat interesting. Alas, they were all rookie in my book and lead to nothing more than a Band-Aid used to cover a gaping wound.
That’s when I elected to call Ted. He popped into my mind because I heard that his daughter Stephanie had recently married her high school sweetheart. Stephanie was a perfect fit for this example, for she was stellar in every way. On the gorgeous scale of 1 to 10, she was a 512. She also had a full ride to medical school. When she wasn’t at her one-woman art show, she was hunting and fishing. One year Stephanie shot a 220 B&C mulie, the next year a limit of quail with a 28 gauge. Anything with fins was caught, and it almost didn’t matter whether it was on of fly, spin, or conventional tackle. Now she was happily married, so Ted surely had some sound advice. I picked up the phone and dialed away.
Ted typically answers a question with a question.
“Buddy,” I said, “I need some advice. What did you do when the boys started calling Stephanie for dates and then for prom?”
“What are you going to do?” he asked.
“I’ve got no game on this one,” I said. “I thought about knife sharpening, gun cleaning, heck, I even pulled out my nunchakus. Each is as boring as the next. Help a brother out.”
“Well,” he said, “I can’t tell you what to do, but when it was Stephanie’s time, I was hunting whitetail. It was a tough fall, and the last day of the season I came upon a small six-point buck. I shot him for the table, and when I butchered him I tossed his manhood in a Mason jar. I filled the jar with formaldahyde, screwed on the cap, and placed it on top of the refrigerator. Then I placed a six-pack of Coke next to it.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me . . .”
“When Little Johnny arrived for the first date, I welcomed him into our home. ‘Johnny,’ I said, ‘I’m sure we’ll be seeing you often, so how about a quick house tour?’ I walked him past the living room and the dining room, I showed him the bathroom, and I finished with a tour of Stephanie’s bedroom. He liked the bathroom and Stephanie’s bedroom the best.
“Stephanie was running late, so I asked him if he wanted something to drink. ‘Sure,’ said Little Johnny.
“‘How about a Coke?’ I asked.
“‘Sounds fine,’ he said.
“‘Great. Go grab one while I get some ice. They’re on top of the refrigerator.’
“Little Johnny walked over to the icebox and grabbed a can. He stared at the Mason jar and asked, ‘What’s in the jar?’
“‘Do you want crushed or cubed?’ I asked.
“‘Cubed is fine,’ he said. ‘But what’s in the jar?’
“‘Bring that soda over here,’ I said. ‘We’ll get it cold.’
“‘Sure thing,’ he said. ‘But what’s in the jar?’
“‘What jar?’ I asked.
“‘The jar on top of the refrigerator?’
“I walked up to the fridge, took a hard look at the jar, and really studied it for a second. ‘Oh, that,’ I said and turned around to face him. ‘That’s the pair from the last guy who disrespected my daughter.’ Word spread through school like a wildfire, and she was home five minutes before curfew one hundred percent of the time. Now I don’t have to worry about a thing.”
Proms are going off all over the country. If it’s your time now then you might be too late, but for the rest of you guys, it’s never too early to get ahead of the curve. And deer season is right around the corner . . .