Things My Daddy Said About Dating (What Every Girl Should Know)

My daddy looked like James Dean. Seriously. There is a very old photo of our family at the Outer Banks, taken when I was about 5, so that would have been about 1965. Daddy is standing next to the swimming pool, and he looks just like James Dean. Plus, my Daddy was way cool. Ask anyone who knew him. They’ll tell you. Gerald Milner was way cool. Even with that name.

Daddy loved his girls, though he did want a boy, he had four daughters. The first three of us were 2 1/2 years apart, then came the baby, when I was 13. He taught us how to make a fist the right way–thumb outside of knuckles, knuckles flat for more punch–because he wanted us to level some guy if we needed too. I never needed too, but I did teach my granddaughter the same thing, when I saw her make a “girl fist.”

Daddy was my first date. When I turned ten, he took me to Buck’s Restaurant, the swankiest place in Asheville at the time, on Tunnel Road. It was my birthday present. Just the two of us, no mom and sisters involved. He treated me like a princess. I got to order the biggest dessert. The waiters and waitresses were especially nice to us because they knew it was a big night. Daddy pretended it was a real date. He told me, “How I am treating you tonight is how every man should treat you.” Geez. I cry just typing that. Who on earth could treat me as good as you did, Daddy? I was your favorite princess (as were each of my sisters). He also said that date would be the best date I ever had. He was right. Nothing has ever compared.

He did the same for my sisters on their 10th birthdays (or thereabouts). When he died, the pastor asked us, individually, what we remembered about him most. All of us said, “The night he took me on my first date.”

Every Daddy should do that for his little girl. She’ll never forget it.

Daddy taught me about boys. He was one of 7 boys (and three sisters) and he knew. Boys aren’t always going to treat you like a princess. So, he gave me some tips. I’ll list a few.

It isn’t about whether the boy chooses you or not. Its about whether you choose him. That statement revolutionized my thinking about dating, men and relationships. So many women are trying to be pleasing, beautiful and charming, all so the guy will choose her. Daddy told me to decide if I wanted the guy before the guy ever had the chance to decide anything. That statement has been a game changer on many a guy in my life.

When a guy says, I’m not the marrying type, he just means he doesn’t want to marry you, so don’t waste anymore time on him. Oh my gosh. When the first guy said that to me, while we were discussing our future (or not, as it turned out), I gasped out loud and said, “My Daddy said you would say that.” Of course, Daddy didn’t know that guy would say it, but he knew some guy would, and sure enough he was right, The guy got married six months later to another girl.

If a guy ever tries to hurt you, tell me. and I’ll go kick his ass. Aww, Daddy, you were already in heaven when that guy hurt me. Going through my divorce, I kept telling my ex, if my Daddy were here, he’d kick your ass. My ex knew my dad, and he concurred. An ass whooping is exactly what he would have gotten.

Men can be casual with sex. Women can’t do that, because sex is about feelings and emotion for them. That’s why its the girl’s job to say no. She has something to protect, her heart. Would every girl who is trying to act like a man sexually please read that statement like 20 times? Men aren’t women and women aren’t men, no matter how gender neutral we try to make things these days. The sexes respond differently to many things, and I’d say sex is one of the biggest. Men can be casual about it. Women rarely.

Daddy never let men curse in front of my mother, or his daughters. He would say, “Ladies are present.” Now, it makes me sad that women are worse than men with their foul mouths. When we were little, instead of saying hell, we said h-e-double toothpicks. My how things have changed.

Daddy died when my youngest was 5 but both my boys like the memories of him. He was a golfer, an athlete, a champion of the poor. He loved my mama, and made her feel beautiful. He loved his four girls and made us feel beautiful. He was the first man to tell me I was pretty. I was 14 and awkward, and feeling it. He told me I was going to be the prettiest girl in the school that day. And, you know what? I was.

Letter to Joffrey (on the night of his birth)

This letter was written to my oldest son, Joffrey, whom I adore, on the night of his birth. Enjoy! Those of you who asked for a re-read (I read it on the night of his going away party).

My Darling Joffrey,

Well, here we are exactly, and I do mean exactly, nine months from when all this mess got started. You were born precisely on your due date at 2:02 a.m. That either means I am punctual or you are. I don’t know which.

Its 4 a.m. and your father, Lord love him, is sound asleep on the floor beside us. He barely survived the whole birthing ordeal, and at one point they nearly had to resuscitate him, but we’ll keep that between us.

You are wide awake beside me watching the world with amazing curiosity. Your eyes are simply soaking it all in, and I am astounded at how I feel like I know you so completely already. I thought you’d come out a stranger to me but here you are, and you are Joffrey.

But, it is hard to tell if you know me too, so I feel a few facts to introduce your family to you are probably appropriate. I’ll start with the bad news first. (First lesson in life: it is always best to start with the bad news first.) So, here goes.

1. We’re poor.

2. We live in the middle of no-where.

3. We will never go to Disney World.

Now at the moment, and for the next few years or so, you probably won’t notice or care about these few points. But one day, I’m guessing around age 10, you’re going to go home with THAT KID. THAT KID will have every new toy under the sun, and will live in a cool subdivision (as opposed to the middle of nowhere) with a pool, and THAT KID will have gone to Disney World at least twice. (Probably more if he has rich grandparents, and by the way, you do not.) I imagine you will come home, arms crossed, and demand to know when you will be supplied with the same. Well, let me say now that you should refer to items 1-3, letter dated 4/20/89. You were informed.

Now to your parents. I’ll start with me, your mom. Again, I’ll start with the bad news.

1. I am horribly unorganized, which is really bad because you should see all the equipment that comes with you.

2. I absolutely never follow the rules, and here’s where it gets rough for you, so let’s just get this one settled. You, my dear boy, will have too. It isn’t my idea, really. It comes from all these parenting books I’ve been reading. It seems If I don’t want to raise a brat, I have to make sure you follow a schedule (again not my idea, I detest schedules) and rules. Sorry kid.

3. I can’t cook and really rarely make the effort. Your father and I eat out a lot. But, here’s the upside. I know most of the cool restaurants in Asheville, and we love Mexican, so its not all bad.

4. I am a terrifyingly horrible driver, which I inherited straight from your grandmother, but hey, I’ve discovered that car seats are super handy when a State Trooper pulls you over. Who wants to give the harried mom a ticket?

5. I haven’t figured a thing out about this world, and generally find myself lost in the middle of it, but I am hoping we can discover it together.

But lest you despair, let’s move on to your father, the more positive part of the intros. Your dad is and always will be one of the great things in your life. He’s pretty darn awesome, mostly because he can literally fix anything, which is why I married him. Everyone needs a good handyman around. So, here goes.

1. Your dad knows all the places to hike, fish and camp, and he knows all the names of trees. (Although, if you hear him say Dogus Woodus, well, feel free to roll your eyes.)

2. He drives a cool truck with a bunch of gadgets and radios on it, which you, being a boy, will so totally love. (Me not so much. I can never get into it gracefully, which provides your father with oh-so-many questionable jokes at my expense.)

3. He loves AC/DC and the Eagles so you’ll get long hours of good tunes.

4. He can quote most of Shakespeare.

See? Pretty good, huh?

But, a few positive notes about me, so you don’t worry this is a one-sided deal.

1. I am killer at Battleship and will kick your butt in it, but I promise to let you win at CandyLand. (Side note: Do not play your grandmother in Scrabble. It has been my suspicion for years that she cheats.)

2. I know all the kids books and I’ve been practicing how to read to you. (Your father did not enjoy this activity–pretending he was the baby or I was–and reading out loud, with emphasis, despite his aforementioned talent of quoting Shakespeare).

3. I’m not too big on homework, and chances are good I won’t make you do it. (I mean, what if a good movie is on??) Which brings me to the best point of all and one that I believe will give me a leg up on dad.

4. I will take you out of school on a whim for vacations. I love the beach in the fall and see no reason to miss it just because of school. What do you think now?

So, see? There is hope for dear old mom.

Well, my brand new perfect baby, the sun is rising and those blame nurses will be in here soon to poke and prod, so let’s get a bit of sleep while we can. Tomorrow we start an amazing 18 years together. Sounds like a long time, huh? Your grandmother says it isn’t, that it goes by in a blink. I hope she’s wrong because already you are the delight of my life.

Sleep sweet, dear child. I love you, Mom

P.S. I forgot to mention that your pediatrician will be here bright and early. I can tell you now, you aren’t going to like him, but don’t worry, they say it only hurts for a second.