My dad is generally an even-keeled kind of guy, but when the topic of my love life comes up, he gets all hot and bothered. I won’t bore you with the details, but his central argument is that I’m young and in my prime. I should be out there exploring and dating and just having a good time before I have to settle down with someone. Stop being so serious.
I don’t necessarily disagree with him on this, but it does sound to me like he’s trying a bit to live vicariously through his son. If I really read between the lines, I can almost sense that he’s trying to warn me. “Chris. When you’re married, it’s just this one person forever. THIS. ONE. PERSON. FOREVER. Please for the love of God…while you’re young and free, don’t blow this opportunity.”
To which I typically counter, “Look, everyone is different. Some guys can date casually, even if they’re not really that interested. Not me. I need to have that connection and that connection is hard to find. Plus, I’m careful to not lead people on. If I’m not attracted, I’m not just going to go date them for fun, or to exercise my so-called golden opportunity window. Do you get what I’m saying?”
The first time I said some variation of this argument was in college. After I finished, he looked at me blankly and asked…Are you gay?
Am I gay?! I wondered at the time if this was some sort of tactic to challenge my manhood into action, or if he was seriously so perplexed as to my dating habits that he felt compelled to ask the obvious question (in his mind, anyways). When I assured him that I was indeed attracted to women, he let the subject drop.
Over the years, we had several conversations similar to this, and his exasperation only grew and grew. Things finally came to a head when I visited home a couple weeks ago. Here’s a truncated transcript from our dinnertime conversation:
“It’s not that hard. You’re just thinking too much. Stop thinking. You’re too serious. Do you know how many girlfriends I had by the time I was 21? 9. How many have you had?”
“1 or 2”
“You’re 27. What is the matter with you?”
“It’s hard to find someone I can connect with.”
At this point, I’m just messing with him because it’s just hilarious to see him all riled up about this. He asks me what I’m looking for.
“I don’t know. Someone with a good sense of humor, smart, pyun-hae (comfortable). You know, the basics.”
“You’re too picky.”
“How is that too picky? What would you want for me instead? Someone boring, stupid and high-maintenance??”
“Only two things I wish for. Only two thing matter. Priority #1. Christian. Priority #2 Korean. That’s all. Anything else it doesn’t matter so stop being so picky.”
And so declared my Father, who might as well have enshrined these as Commandment 1 and 2. Of course, I found this to be a ridiculous perspective and I could have gone back and forth with him all night, but I decided to just throw him a bone.
“Ok. I’ll try to be more open-minded.”
At that, he seemed content. He almost seemed surprised that he got through to me for a change. Dinner continued without the subject being raised again but about 30 minutes later he stopped as if he had forgotten something.
“There are three priorities”
Oh great, can’t wait to hear this.
“Priority #1 She has to be a girl. Priority #2 Christian. Priority #3 Korean.”
Again, I couldn’t be quite sure if he was joking or if he thought I’d actually listen to his Commandments 1 and 2, only to bring home some Korean-Christian guy.
He was probably joking…but then again, from his perspective…
Why risk it right?