Lloyd Rutledge

As a father, I’ve always been very protective of my daughter. She’s the center of my universe, and I would do just about anything for her. And that means making sure that she only spends time with boys who treat her the way that she deserves to be treated. So let’s make one thing perfectly clear: If you want to date my daughter, that means you’re going to have to date me first.

That’s right. Before you even think about asking Katie out, you’re going to have to show up at our house and escort me, her dad, on a perfectly lovely date. No exceptions.

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Sure, call me old-fashioned. Maybe we live in a different time now, one where boys have no qualms about taking a girl out on a Friday night without first going on a fun date with the girl’s father. But let me tell you right now that that kind of crummy attitude isn’t going to fly with me, no sirree. And don’t think you can just pull up to the curb and honk your horn and I’ll come running out. There’s a certain way young women and their dads like to be treated, got it?

You might be able to get away with going steady with other girls without enjoying a romantic evening with their fathers, but not with my baby girl. If you want a chance with her, I expect you to come to the door, firmly shake my hand, and then ask me if I want to go get ice cream sometime. And when we do head out on our first date, provided you demonstrate that you’re a responsible, mature, morally upright young man, only then will I know that you’re fit to date my Katie.

Date my daughter, date me. It’s as simple as that.

And if you want me to let you anywhere near my sweet little angel, you had better be on your best behavior, that’s for damn sure. You need to prove that you’re the type of guy who knows how to show the proper level of care and respect to your special someone, whether the special someone in question is a smart, sensitive girl who lights up the room wherever she goes, or her middle-aged father.

Also, I hope it goes without saying that I expect you to be a perfect gentleman while we’re out on the town together—no funny business.

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Hold the door open for me. Listen to what I have to say. Buy me flowers. Make me feel as special as my Katie is. If you’re going to take my daughter out, I want you to first demonstrate that you can show me a wonderful time at a nice restaurant or the homecoming dance. Otherwise, I’ll know that you just aren’t good enough for my pumpkin.

Also, I hope it goes without saying that I expect you to be a perfect gentleman while we’re out on the town together—no funny business. In fact, if you so much as attempt to place a hand on my knee, you can say bye-bye to any chance of me ever letting you take my daughter out, regardless of how much fun we were having up until that point, and even if you let me wear your varsity jacket when I got cold.

So keep your hands to yourself. Have me home by a reasonable hour. And, just like with my daughter, don’t be expecting so much as a goodnight kiss from me. If you happen to get a little peck on the cheek, fine, but don’t expect it.

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You may think I’m being a little harsh here. Maybe you don’t want to go to the trouble of courting me, taking me out to see a scary movie, and steadily winning me over until I give you permission to ask Katie out. But believe me right now when I say that she’s worth it. And it’s because she’s such a special, lovely young woman for whom I make it a rule to date every boy she brings around, no ifs, ands, or buts. Until she turns 18, that’s just how it’s going to go. Got it?

Good. Pick me up at 7? Can’t wait.