Growing up, one of the phrases I had heard the most from my mom was, “Don’t tell your father.” This phrase was a panacea for everything from: hiding my mom’s shopping sprees, to what major I had decided to be this week, and how I had put a small dent in the car when he wasn’t looking.
It’s also applicable to the scenario of, “your dominatrixly garbed father is trying to kill you with a glowing sword and it would be a good idea to not reveal that you have a twin sister who’s existence was hidden from him for a Very Good Reason.”
So when I began dating, I saw this phrase shining neon glitter in my brain. The best course of action, I decided, was to be on this dating site, meet my soul mate, date for an undisclosed sum of minutes, and then tell my dad, “Oh, by the way, I’m getting married in two weeks if you’d like to be there and stuff.”
However, my first dating experiences were so bad, I couldn’t resist telling some of my family these stories. One of the people I told was my dad’s wife, Mary. Now, given the first paragraph combined with my penchant for keeping secrets for other people, it didn’t occur to me that she would tell my dad this tidbit about me. We even had a conversation about this very topic:
Mary: So when can we tell your dad about this?
Me: Current plan is never.
A few days later my dad insisted that it had Been A Long Time Since We Had Dinner Together and asked if I was free that night. I was indeed free from my busy schedule of posting on forums, watching makeup videos on Youtube, and pretending to finish painting my bathroom. Plans were made. Food was to be eaten. All was well in the land.
The wellness and normalcy continued throughout the dinner wherein we exchanged information over the tattered flesh of plants in the form of salad. I was therefore slightly unprepared for the conversation that followed:
Dad: Soo…. anything else new in your life?
Dad: Are you sure there isn’t anything new?
Me: I’m good.
Dad: So… there isn’t anything new you’ve been doing? Have you been to any new restaurants? Seen any new movies?
Me: Well, I did buy a new brand of toilet paper a few days ago… Spoiler alert: not as good as the last brand.
Dad: Ok, if anything new SHOULD come up, I would love to hear about it!
Now, someone else would have caved at this line of questioning and told my dad everything he wanted to know. I, however, am not that someone. I purposefully live an aimless life so that I can conserve energy for the day when someone wants something from me, and then I expend every last ounce of breath on never giving into that person.
However, it occurred to me that I could have some fun with the situation if I played it right. I just needed to bide my time and await the moment that an opportunity presented itself to me like shrimp to cocktail sauce.
Phase 1: Acquire Target
I knew from a past argument that we had had, that my dad had a major problem at the idea of me dating an older man. Therefore, when the next day I was messaged by a man 11 years my senior, my plan began to form.
Phase 2: Lie a Little for the Sake of the Greater Hilarity
The man who messaged me was 45 years old. Not a bad age. I could easily envision that my dad’s eyes would twitch a little around the edges. However, that wasn’t good enough. I had to find the sweet spot between “ridiculously older than me” and “poking at the hot button of this man being a contemporary of my father’s.” I knew I needed to push him up into the 50’s but felt that 50 on the dot might be suspicious. The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, in this case, turned out to be 51.
Phase 3: Implement
Mary messaged me asking how the site was going. I was happy to reply to her. “Things are looking up! I have a date this week with someone new. He’s a bit older at 51 but we have a lot in common!”
Less than ten minutes later my dad called me to “see how my day was going and if there was anything new to report.” Coincidence? Like toilet paper, there is no coincidence in battle.
-Interlude: The Story of My Father’s Facebook Page-
One brilliant sunny day my dad texted me to exclaim the strangest news: he had a Facebook page! What was the strange thing about it? He didn’t make it! What was the even stranger thing about it? He was able to log into this account! He claimed that someone (not him) must have made the page without his approval.
-Back to the main event.-
Phase 4: Victory is Mine and Mine Alone
A few days after phase 3, I got another phone call from my dad. It went a little something like this:
Dad: So… I got an interesting email this morning!
Me: Oh? What about?
Dad: You! I got an email from Facebook saying that you had updated your profile with a status message. And so I logged into Facebook to read it, and discovered that you had a dating story on there! Tell me about this.
Really? Was this really his clever way to flush my dating secret out of the forest and into the light and at the same time protect the fact that he Already Knew Everything? It was like he had gone to the Swiss Cheese School of Alibis.
I, however, felt that I had him neatly in my trap and I pounced like the steel jaws of robot death itself.
Me: Ok, Dad, let’s cut the pretense here. A: Facebook doesn’t work that way since B: if you even used “your” account you would know this and so therefore C: I know that Mary told you.
Dad: You posted on Facebook! And I never even mentioned Mary!
Me: Your very wording is exhibit A against you. I win.
He continued to deny the Truth. Which made me wonder if this was impetus enough to finally create the “Fake Boyfriend of Non-Caucasian Ancestry” that I had always planned to use on my grandfather.