8 Simple Rules for Marrying My Daughter: And Other Reasonable Advice from the Father of the Bride (Not That Anyone Is Paying Attention)

Overview

Following the stunning success of 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter -- which was adapted into a TV show for ABC -- W. Bruce Cameron returns with an even more hilarious look at fatherhood, capturing the predicament of the forgotten man in the tux at his little girl's wedding.

As Cameron explains, modern weddings are much like royal coronations, only more expensive. Aside from the writing of checks, there is not much fathers understand about them. Why can't guests ...

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2008 Hardcover New jacket Brand New Hardcover with dust jacket, clean, tight, unmarked, () Following the stunning success of 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage ... Daughter--which was adapted into a TV show for ABC--W. Bruce Cameron returns with an even more hilarious look at fatherhood, capturing the predicament of the forgotten man in the tux at his little girl's wedding. As Cameron explains, modern weddings are much like royal coronations, only more expensive. Aside from the writing of checks, there is not much fath. Read more Show Less

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8 Simple Rules for Marrying My Daughter: And Other Reasonable Advice from the Father of the Bride (Not That Anyone Is Paying Attention)

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Overview

Following the stunning success of 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter -- which was adapted into a TV show for ABC -- W. Bruce Cameron returns with an even more hilarious look at fatherhood, capturing the predicament of the forgotten man in the tux at his little girl's wedding.

As Cameron explains, modern weddings are much like royal coronations, only more expensive. Aside from the writing of checks, there is not much fathers understand about them. Why can't guests successfully eat, drink, and dance unless the whole event is as carefully choreographed as a Broadway production? With his characteristic wit, Cameron captures the aspects of the wedding that are the most ridiculous to paternal eyes, for example:

• why the wedding needs a theme (this one is "We're all stressed out")

• why the wedding has to be photographed as if it will be reviewed by the Warren Commission

• why the bouquet must include a species of flower found only at the tip of the Himalayas

• why the wedding dress has to strike the right mood (which, judging from everyone's behavior, might best be summed up as "crabby")

Throughout it all, however, a father keeps faith that the wedding -- if not the wedding preparation -- will make his daughter a happy woman.

Hilarious yet poignant, 8 Simple Rules for Marrying My Daughter is sure to be a comfort to the legions of fathers (and mothers) who will one day have a daughter walking down the aisle.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416558910
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 4/8/2008
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

W. Bruce Cameron is a nationally syndicated columnist and the author of 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, which was the basis for the television show 8 Simple Rules on ABC, now syndicated nightly on ABC Family. He is also the author of How to Remodel a Man and is the two-time winner of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists Award for best humor columnist and the winner of the 2006 Robert Benchley Award

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Read an Excerpt

Introduction

A father's job is to protect his daughters from dangerous things, like puberty. This isn't easy, because the daughters don't want to be protected — in fact, when they get to be teenagers, "dangerous" somehow becomes synonymous with "attractive."

When they were little, they were frightened there were monsters in their closets, and wanted you to check. Then they got older, and you worry there might be boys in there, and they scream at you that you have no right to look in the closet, it is their private property! (Even though it is in the home that you pay for.) When they were small, they wanted the light left on so they could sleep, but now they want to sit in the living room with the lights turned off (and their boyfriends presumably turned on), and they get annoyed when you noisily flip on all the lights so you can better see the shotgun you are cleaning. Back when they were young, they wore cute little T-shirts and shorts — and as teenagers they appear to be wearing exactly the same clothes, outfits so tiny on their alarmingly developed bodies you feel the need to wrap a quilt around them, or maybe spray them with insulation.

You used to be the most important male figure in their lives, and now they regard you as if you are something growing on the shower curtain. You've been replaced by a slinking, sniveling succession of slackers who stare at your daughters with ill-disguised desire.

Boys.

The first time a boy comes over to see your daughter, your instinct is to ask him to leave your property and your planet. Unfortunately, even if you get rid of this one, others will soon follow — people have been irresponsibly breeding boys for a long time, and why this isn't prevented by the Geneva Convention, you'll never understand. Other than convening an emergency session of the UN Security Council, there are few practical solutions available to you, though basketball player Charles Barkley had an interesting take on what to do about the boys sniffing around his daughter: "I figure if I kill the first one, word will get out."

My response to the viral spread of teenage boys was to write the 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, which ultimately became an ABC television show starring the late John Ritter. (Example — Rule One: If you pull into my driveway and honk, you'd better be delivering a package, because you're sure as heck not picking anything up.)

These 8 Simple Rules, posted on their bedroom doors when my daughters refused the idea of wearing T-shirts with the rules printed on the back, worked about as well as you could expect, which is to say, not at all. My daughters continued to behave in ways I can only describe as FBF (forbidden by father) until they finally became old enough to admit I was right along. (I suppose I should reveal that though they were old enough to make this humble admission, they didn't actually do so.)

Then they moved out, somehow thinking this would mean an end to FBF activities, which is absurd. My job to protect my daughters will not end until I've had my first autopsy. The fact that the forbidden activities are no longer occurring in my own living room is not at all relevant, though I do appreciate having more space on my couch.

Which brings us to the subject of this book: marriage.

Now, I am not against my daughters getting married and having children — far from it, I can't wait until they have teenage daughters of their own!

(Now Grown) Former Teenage Daughter: Can you believe it? When I told my daughter she was grounded, she screamed that she hated me and locked herself in the bedroom!

Father: Really? I can't imagine.

Former Teenage Daughter: Then she snuck out her bedroom window!

Father: (helpless laughter)

Yet as much as I am looking forward to having the above conversation, I am against my daughters marrying too young, too hastily, or too soon for me to get used to the idea that a "son"-in-law is suddenly going to be part of my permanent family. Why can't we wait a few years, until we're all, say, retired?

I think we can all agree that the world runs better when we learn from our fathers. When it comes to love, I've had a series of problems finding someone who truly appreciates just how wonderful I am, which has led to a couple of relationship disasters, including a divorce. Now I realize that my wonderfulness is best doled out in small doses, or maybe even just kept completely to myself. With my glorious male wonderfulness thus in check, I've managed to find and keep a steady girlfriend for a couple of years, though she's just off a nasty breakup herself, so we're both proceeding with caution. This is called "learning from our mistakes," and my daughters, both still in their twenties, strike me as too young to have made an adequate number of mistakes from which to learn, though when it comes to boys, I've done my best to prevent them from making mistakes, and I don't care if this is paradoxical. What is it they say? Life begins at forty! What a perfect age for my daughters to start contemplating getting married!

Unfortunately, you can't issue an FBF against biology — I know, because I've tried. Despite the fact that your daughter is still your little girl, when she looks in the mirror, she sees a full-grown women, one she apparently feels is ready to get married to some loser.

Or not! Maybe he's not a loser! One of your jobs is to find this out — just because he refuses to watch America's Most Wanted doesn't mean he's afraid he'll see his face on it. Just because he asks you how things are going at work doesn't mean he's mentally tabulating your net worth because he's planning to steal your money and sack your village. Just because he kisses your daughter doesn't mean he's an alien being, intending to impregnate her with a creature that will burst out of her chest and destroy mankind.*

On the other hand, all three of the above are reasonable suspicions that should be investigated via polygraph and liver biopsy, and if he refuses, he should not be marrying your daughter. (Yet if you think about it, isn't agreeing to a polygraph exactly what someone would do if he were guilty?)

Then, entirely separate from the topic of marriage is the subject of the wedding. You'll find that during the planning and execution of this complex ritual, your advice and counsel are very much appreciated by you.

Just as 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter is an owner's manual for any parent whose little girl has transformed overnight into little monster, this book, 8 Simple Rules for Marrying My Daughter, is also a how-to guide. How to handle all the joyous events in your future: your daughter's engagement, wedding, marriage, and requests for loans. How to cure your daughter of Bridemania (you'll need a Bible, a crucifix, and some holy water). How to deal with your future son-in-law in a way that's friendly and yet still totally intimidating.

Whether your daughter is years and years away from getting married (as I still insist mine should be) or has recently had someone propose, in these pages you'll find the answers to your questions, like:

  • It's the happiest time of her life — so why is everybody crying?
  • Shopping for a wedding gown — how can something so boring be so frightening?
  • What's the difference between the traditional and non-traditional wedding? (Traditionally, the father of the bride pays for both.)
  • The wedding theme song — should we use the music from Mission: Impossible?

Oddly, the whole earth-shattering series of events begins not with the father, but with a man to whom you've probably given little thought or notice: the prospective groom-to-be.

Copyright © 2008 by W. Bruce Cameron

ONE

There Are 8 Simple Rules for Marrying My Daughter

"Groom" as a noun means "man who will marry my daughter." "Groom" as a verb means "monkeys eating lice off each other." The challenge for a father is to accept the reality of the former without fixating on a mental image of the latter.

Usually, the news that one of the boys who has been hanging around eating all the food in the house has somehow morphed into a fiancé comes as a big shock to the father, who had no idea things were this serious because the only clue anyone gave him was that his daughter mentioned that her relationship was "very, very serious" and that they "might get married." How come nobody ever tells him anything?

In ancient times, the boy gave a clear sign to a father of his intentions by offering a gift of respect, like a donkey or a fiefdom. In today's world, this very practical system has fallen to the wayside. (Though to be truthful, I don't really want a donkey. A sports car would be nice, however. And a fiefdom would still be okay.)

It was also a practice for the father to pay a dowry to the groom — sort of like paying ransom, except that the kidnapper got to keep her! This is pretty baffling until you consider that in ancient times, girls often married in their teens: There are moments when a father would quite frankly pay anything to get someone else to take responsibility for his teenage daughter. The practice of giving a dowry has evolved into the tradition of having the father pay for the wedding. (Though I have to say, if you're ever afforded the opportunity to fulfill your obligation with nothing more than a couple of goats, do it!)

Now the father finds himself playing catch-up. The daughter seems sure this guy is "the one," but what does she know? Every single other man in her life has turned out to be a loser — otherwise, they'd still be in her life. With that kind of track record, how can she be trusted to get it right this time?

Who is this guy, anyway? He could be anything — a thief, a con artist, a member of Congress. Just because he's clever enough to burrow into the family doesn't mean he belongs there, any more than a prairie-dog village belongs in the front yard.

Only a father can administer the type of interrogation and investigation necessary under these circumstances — oddly, no one else thinks it even matters.

THE FATHER IS ALWAYS RIGHT — IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE IT, JUST ASK HIM

Is anyone good enough to marry your daughter?

No!

This isn't to say that you don't want your daughter to be happy. Some of the best moments of your life involve your daughter being happy (like, for example, on Father's Day, when she would give you gifts and make you dinner. Why can't every day be like that?) In fact, that's the point. You want her to be happy, but what are the odds that this guy, selected at what feels like random, can make her so? He's not making you happy, that's for sure!

Be careful how you phrase your comments and questions: You might come off sounding unfriendly, even hostile — which is exactly what you want.

Key to protecting your daughter is establishing that you're the boss. You make the rules, including:

8 Simple Rules for Marrying My Daughter

Rule #1

If you neglected to ask my permission before you proposed to my daughter, don't worry about it, you can make it up to me by making sure your wedding is both beautiful and to a different woman.

Rule #2

There are many, many men your age in this world, but there is only one woman who is my daughter. She is unique. You, on the other hand, can be replaced at any time.

Rule #3

My whole life, it has been my job to make my daughter happy. Now it will be your job. My job will be to make sure you do your job. And don't think that just because my daughter has picked you, it means you meet my personal standards for what is good for her. I haven't made up my mind yet, and will be evaluating you over a time period known as "forever."

Rule #4

You may be wondering how to address me: Dad? Bruce? Mr. Cameron? Let's end the awkwardness. For the time being, I suggest you stick with "sir." Sample phrases to help you become accustomed to this term: "May I wash your car for you today, sir?" "Are there any tasks that I can do around the house while you watch the ballgame, sir?" "Is there anything I can do to make your life better, sir?"

Rule #5

I may be old-fashioned, but I believe that any man who wishes to marry my daughter should have a good job and a successful career. I'm not saying you need to be the sole source of income, but I am saying if you don't take care of my daughter, I will take care of you.

Rule #6

You do not have a legal contract with my daughter; she can break off the engagement if she wants and there is nothing you can do about it except change your name and move out of the country. The same goes for you: I would not want you marrying my daughter if you do not truly feel you are the right man for her, nor, if you break it off, would I want you marrying anybody else. Ever.

Rule #7

You may, in a very male episode of last-minute panic, decide that you need to sow some wild oats right before the wedding. Let's define our roles: If you are the sower, I will be your reaper.

Rule #8

The vows you will be taking commit you to be faithful to my daughter " 'til death do you part." Please know if you break your vows, I'll immediately exercise the second part of the contract.

THE SON-IN-LAW: YOU'RE NOT LOSING A DAUGHTER, YOU'RE GAINING A DEBTOR

With a biological son, it is generally recognized that as the parent, what you say is law. (At least, this is generally recognized among parents.) With a son-in-law, however, the chain of command isn't as clear. Whatever you say to the man who is married to your daughter is, in essence, said to both of them. And as we've seen, she doesn't always do what you tell her, or she wouldn't have gone out with this guy in the first place. So you can issue a reasonable directive ("Please do not come within fifty yards of my daughter"), he'll ask your daughter about it, and she will utter some irresponsible response like "Don't pay any attention to my father." It's as if the guy is walking around with his own appeals court in his pocket.

The relationship between father and son-in-law is therefore fraught with tension and is probably best avoided altogether. Isn't it true that in some societies the daughters never get married and have children but rather devote their years to making sure their fathers are happy? (I recognize that societies adopting this admirable practice will eventually be, well, extinct, but what do you care? By the time it occurs to everyone that not having babies means no one is left to pay Social Security, you'll be extinct yourself.)

So okay, maybe it's not true, but that's no reason not to try it.

In other societies, marriages are arranged by the head of the household. (I know this one is true.) There are people, called "women," who don't think this system is a good idea, and people, called "fathers" who think it is pretty sensible. The upside to the system is that you can pick your own son-in-law, like maybe the new starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos. The downside is that you can never be sure that the Broncos will make the playoffs.

But even if your son-in-law is the greatest guy in the world (after yourself) and invites you to sit on the team bench whenever the Broncos have a home game, the relationship is still a difficult one. Let's face it, he is the man you know is sleeping with your daughter. With every other guy, you've been able to look at their relationship with a certain amount of benign denial, even if they traveled to Europe on vacation and stayed in the same hotel room the whole time. (Lots of people in Europe don't sleep together. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, for example.) You spent most of her childhood protecting her from male predators and now all of a sudden you're sending her home with one. (That's how it feels, anyway.) He's now involved in decisions affecting your daughter's life that don't seem like they should be any of his business — like where she is going to live, for example. Obviously, your daughter should live close enough to her father so that it is practical to bake him a pie. There's no justification for him suddenly announcing that he and your daughter are moving to Miami, even if he did get traded to the Dolphins.

Also, as the head man in the family, your statements of fact have always been treated as unchallengeable truth or at least completely ignored. A son-in-law, however, is another man, and men like to argue the facts. So when you begin lecturing him on how in some societies the father is tended to like a king by his daughters, he'll look at you and say, "What society? Where?" And then you'll be forced to change the subject.

"How come you threw that interception in that game against Kansas City?" you'll ask accusingly. That'll shut him up.

With your son-in-law interjecting his so-called legitimate questions into your proclamations, your daughter will begin to think of you as less than perfect, undermining your authority. If fathers everywhere lose authority, it will lead to a breakdown of the family, causing a collapse in the world order, leading to looting and burning. Therefore, it is only logical that if your daughter gets married, the world will come to an end.

"How is that logical?" your son-in-law will challenge.

See how irritating this is?

The conclusion to all this is simple: The worst system is where the daughter gets to pick the man she'll marry, though the one where the father gets to pick is worst, too.

MY DAUGHTER'S PROPOSED GROOM

For the past several years, my daughters have been doing what I suppose you could call "test dating" — finding young men to bring to me to see if I approved, the way a cat will bring home a dead bird. (I'm not sure this is how they would characterize their actions, but clearly that's the underlying intent.) My daughters were worried that I'd be unfriendly and insulting, but for the most part, I've been very kind and accepting of these chuckleheads.

The fact that I'm willing to participate in this exercise at all goes to show what a wonderful father I've become. I know what we're doing here, we're practicing for the Big Game — that day, ten or twenty years from now, when we'll all agree that one of these men is acceptable as a husband, subject to my veto. My gentle and helpful criticisms of the test candidates provide loving guidance to my daughters as they refine their selection criteria.

"Loving guidance!" Samantha, my older daughter, hoots. Now in her mid-twenties, Sam's a tall brunette who inherited my natural athletic ability but stubbornly maintains that her sports trophies came from her efforts and not her dad's DNA. She manages the operations for a large venture-capital firm, and I suppose you would say that the label "competitive personality" applies to her the way "competitive environment" applies to hockey. She often pretends to think I'm wrong when we argue about something, but then later will reconsider the conversation and call me back with more arguments.

Fortunately, my younger daughter, Valerie, is not yet of the age where I have to worry about her getting married. Out of college and in her early twenties, Valerie has too many jobs to find the time to even date somebody. Last time I checked, she was selling natural hypoallergenic beauty products made from, I don't know, bird spit and snake sweat; she was manufacturing clothing made from organic fibers and cow poop; she was teaching Sanskrit to the homeless; and she was taking extension classes in Ancient Religions Nobody Knows About. Her boyfriend of the moment, named Moldy or Mulchy or something, is one of those crunchy neo-eco types, who looks like he is expressing his political beliefs by biodegrading within his clothing. The two of them seem to have little in common except a cheerful belief that we are all doomed.

I also have a son, but he won't be getting married any time soon, either. He's in college, totally focused on depleting my cash assets. He speaks seriously of medical school, and I suppose having a doctor in the family will extend my life expectancy to the point where I can pay off his student loans. People say he reminds them of me, probably because he is young and good-looking.

Which brings us to Geoff, my older daughter's current boyfriend. He's handsome, hardworking, and respectful, so naturally he makes me very suspicious.

Her previous slacker boyfriends never volunteered to help around the house, but Geoff is always willing to lend a hand, which naturally makes me very suspicious. Why's he trying so hard to please me — what is he trying to cover up?

Usually the guys she brings over avoid my eyes and mumble in response to my casual questions about their probation officer. Geoff always chats with me about things he knows I'm interested in, which naturally makes me very suspicious. Why's he trying so hard to suck up to me?

I don't voice my concerns to my daughter, though, because as a loving father I'm sensitive to the fact that if I do so, he might not help me clean out the garage.

When Geoff shows up at my home one afternoon saying he "needs to talk" to me, he seems nervous, as if he is planning to say he can't come over this weekend to work on the garage. If that's the case, I decide, I'll be charitable. It's enough that he offered in the first place, I'll tell him, so we'll just pick a weekend that works for him. Besides, I've been putting off cleaning out the garage since the thing was built. What's another week?

I invite Geoff in and am surprised when he accepts my offer of a beer — normally he doesn't drink much. I soberly pour myself an iced tea, mentally calculating in my head that I'm owed a beer later.

"How's work, Mr. Cameron?" Geoff asks. I explain where I am with my various projects, taking care to avoid using the words "completely stalled." It takes a while to avoid saying that, and while I talk I notice that Geoff's eyes seem distant, which is odd in and of itself — normally we both find what I say to be fascinating.

Yet I am totally unprepared for what he says when I wrap up my presentation and ask him if he has any questions for me.

"The thing is, Mr. Cameron, I'm here because, you know..." He gulps the last of his beer. "I'm here to ask your permission to marry your daughter. To ask her to marry me. To propose marriage."

I blink at the evasive and unclear language. "Excuse me?"

"I'm asking for your daughter's hand in marriage."

"Her hand?" I sputter.

"Well." He grins. "I guess all of her. Yes, sir. I want to marry Sam."

Now, I have always believed in the tradition where the man asks for the father's permission to marry the daughter and the father says no. But he looks so sincere, and so in need of another beer, that I stifle my immediate reaction — besides, I don't have a loaded weapon nearby, anyway.

In a way, the fact that he wants to make Sam his wife is a compliment, testimony to what a wonderful woman my daughter has become because of my parenting, so to reject him out of hand would be uncaring. He is saying, in essence, that he wants to become my son-in-law, something that I might be willing to entertain in a few years. Several years. Many, many years.

"George," I start to say, searching for the right words.

"Geoff," he corrects.

"Geoff," I agree. "Don't you think this is rushing things a bit? You barely know her. A man and a woman should be together for at least a year or two before they even discuss marriage."

"We've been dating five years."

I'm thunderstruck. Five years! Why on earth have we waited until now to clean out the garage? "Are you sure it's been that long?"

"Yes, five years last month, actually."

"Well...don't you think that if you have taken five years, maybe you're just not sure?" I counter.

Clearly, this is not something that he'd considered. He opens his mouth, then closes it.

"Plus, I know things are not going well for you at work right now," I say.

"I just got promoted."

"Sure, promoted, but who knows what that really means?" I say shrewdly. "With job instability, with you waffling over this issue for five years, I think maybe you should reconsider, don't you? What do you say we go out to the garage and talk about it."

"But," he says, "I love your daughter. She means the world to me. I want to be married to her."

I know what you're thinking — same thing I thought. No fair! He cleverly lured me into the open with his light weaponry — "we've dated for five years" — and now has opened up on me with heavy artillery. What's a father to say to something like "I love your daughter, she means the world to me?"

I stare at Geoff, bewildered. For the first time, I consider just how gutsy it is for him to come over here and talk to me, man-to-man, drinking a manly beverage and asking permission to take one of my most precious possessions away from me.

I also consider that they aren't actually my possessions at all, my daughters. They are free-willed women who haven't really done what I wanted since they turned two years old. I can say no, here, and then maybe attempt some other reasonable measures to prevent them from getting married, such as trying to obtain a restraining order or a mob hit, but in the end I know that any man with the courage to enter my house and ask my permission to take my daughter's hand in marriage will have the courage to go around me if I try to stop it.

Which brings me to the final question. Why try to stop it? I instinctively want to protect my daughter from hurt. Marriage can be hard. A man can seem normal enough, but then as time goes by either develop or reveal significant problems — and if your daughter is married to him, they become her problems. All of these are good reasons to want to end this whole thing right here. Nobody but a father understands this — we just want the best for our daughters, and when they get married, determining what's best passes out of our control.

I always knew this moment would come — the first time I thought about it was when we saw the sonogram and the doctor proclaimed we were going to have a girl. But there hasn't been enough time between then and now! I'm not ready!

And that's what I'm about to tell him — forget it, I'm not ready, come back never. But then, totally unbidden, an image of my daughter slips into my head, not as she appeared in the sonogram, when she looked to me like a potato in a microwave, but just yesterday, when I happened to stop by her office and saw her in a conference room, running a meeting with her staff. She looked like a grown-up.

My little girl is all grown up.

A lump building in my throat, I stick out my hand for Geoff to shake, grinning a little at the surprised look in his eyes. I guess he thought I'd say no.

"Okay," I tell him. "Of course."

THE DEGREES OF THE THIRD DEGREE

Once the father has accepted the future son-in-law, he should let the young man know that (a) he's welcomed into the family and will be loved like a son, and (b) he can still be shot. The message is, "If you hurt my little girl, I will kill you," though some fathers might prefer to temper the statement and say "murder you," or "slit your throat," or "drive over you with my SUV and set your corpse on fire."

To reinforce the message, the father will usually gather his male relatives and friends and subject the son-in-law-to-be to a friendly interrogation. I call this form of intimidation the "Running of the Groom." The father's buddies subject the would-be groom to the third degree, asking hostile questions and making veiled threats, and the son-in-law gets the message and never does anything to harm the daughter and maybe gets gone while the going's good. That's the theory, anyway.

For Geoff's Running of the Groom, I assembled a few of my friends and we went over to my neighbor Tom's house. Tom is my buddy and has a really nice bass boat that he bought for himself over his wife's objections, who said it was an expensive luxury because he probably would never have time to use it. He likes to invite his friends to come over and sit in the boat in his garage and tell them the story of how his wife Emily said he absolutely shouldn't buy it and he hung up the phone and signed the contract right there, showing her who is boss. He loves that story, though he gets a little glum when someone asks why the boat is in the garage, because he's been too busy to take it out on the water yet.

Tom is about five years younger than I am and works for a manufacturer as the vice president of affability, or some such. As I understand it, he has a bunch of salespeople who call him and tell him they've sold stuff, and he tells them they've done a good job. I don't really know what they're selling and sometimes I'm convinced Tom doesn't, either.

Tom doesn't work out as much as I did that one time, and I know from experience that he doesn't watch what he eats because Emily, a nurse, often works nights and so Tom and I frequently have dinner together. Tom is a good cook if you're into foods that manage to somehow be both delicious and fattening. And I'm a good friend — often I'll take the leftovers to my house to spare him the temptation of pumping up his cholesterol with, say, barbecue ribs. So Tom's a little heavy around the stomach, but very good-natured and willing to take a lot of kidding about his paunch and kid back that I've got the same waistline, ha ha.

Besides Tom and myself, I had my cousin Ward. Ward weighs about as much as one of Tom's dinners — a pasty, spindly guy who I figured would nonetheless be intimidating because he sold life insurance.

We decided to hold the Running of the Groom in Tom's boat to further put Geoff off balance. Tom slipped on his captain's hat to lend authority to the proceedings, though I vetoed the idea of us all wearing life jackets.

"Nice boat, you get to take it out much?" Geoff asked, settling down into one of the new seats. Tom gave him a dark look.

Cousin Ward cleared his throat and jumped right into it. "So Geoff...that's your real name, right? Geoff?" Tom and I gave Ward an admiring look, because neither one of us had thought to ask that question.

"Yes. Short for Geoffrey."

"Likely story," Tom snorted.

"Last name?" Ward pressed doggedly. I noticed he was filling in some kind of form.

"King."

"So Sam's name will be King?" Ward continued.

That one startled me. My daughter would be changing her last name. She wouldn't even be in my family anymore! I took a deep, shaky breath, eyeing Mr. King. "Geoff, I'd like to hear from you a little bit about how you are planning to care for my daughter, and maybe someday grandchildren — in the event that things don't work out for you at your current employer."

"Like, what if your company goes out of business?" Tom challenged.

Geoff frowned. "The federal government?"

Ward wrote it down.

"Lots of federal agencies go out of business," I said, though I couldn't think of a single one in the history of the world.

"Probably not the Internal Revenue Service, though," Geoff observed.

"And are you planning to stay there your whole career?" I queried.

"Just until I get my CPA," he responded.

Cousin Ward leaned forward. "Are you really prepared for marriage? Do you feel you have adequate insurance?"

I shook my head in irritation. "What we're trying to say, Geoff, is that now you're going to be part of the family."

"Our family," Tom agreed.

Geoff raised his eyebrows. "Oh, I didn't realize; Tom, you're related?"

"Well, no," Tom admitted.

I felt that the Running of the Groom was sort of running off track. The point of it was to make Geoff understand that we were accepting him, but if he screwed up, there would be hell to pay. Nearly all fathers try some sort of variation of this, but mine was going poorly because as allies I had selected a couple of idiots.

I gave Geoff a stern look. "What we're trying to say, Geoff, is that if you hurt my daughter, my little girl, in any way, you'll be answering to me."

Tom nodded solemnly. "And me."

"And me," Cousin Ward added.

There, that went perfectly. Geoff swallowed, getting the message.

"Here's my card," Cousin Ward said. "Give me a call, I'd like to review your insurance policies."

UNCOVERING THE DARK SECRET

I've always wondered how Eva Braun's family handled what I suppose I would call the "boyfriend situation."

Eva: Dad, I've met this guy, he's got a really good job, lots of people report to him, and he even wrote a book!

Dad: Sounds like a nice guy.

Eva: Well, yeah, except he's Hitler.

Of course, the daughter might be blinded by love and reluctant to examine the true character of her fiancé.

Eva: Oh foo, how bad can the Nazis really be?

Thus it is up to the father to uncover whatever dark secret the groom is hiding. To do this, the father should avoid direct interrogation and instead pose trick questions that catch the unwary groom off guard. Thus ensnared, he'll be exposed as completely unworthy to marry your daughter, and she will listen to absolutely everything you have to say from then on.

The best time to ask these questions is before the wedding. But even if you wait until afterward, if the groom fails to answer them correctly, you can have the marriage annulled, I'm pretty sure that's a rule.

Of course, Geoff's Running of the Groom didn't happen right away. I'm getting ahead of myself in my eagerness to support the thesis that the father has total and complete control, if people would only pay attention to him.

To back up, after Geoff tricked me into giving him permission to marry my daughter, he had to ask her, which I guess is technically part of the whole getting engaged process. And that, of course, was a complicated issue in and of itself.

Copyright © 2008 by W. Bruce Cameron

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Table of Contents

Introduction

1. There Are 8 Simple Rules for Marrying My Daughter

2. An Announcement of Earth-Shattering Proportions and That Is No Exaggeration

3. You Are In Charge of the Plan

4. Meet Bridezilla and the Devil Woman Who Spawned Her

5. Industrial-Strength Pressure

6. You Need Professional Help

7. You Can Feed All of the People Some of the Time, or Some of the People All of the Time, But You Can't Feed a Wedding Party

8. Three Weddings and a Father

9. Bride of Frankenwedding

10. Though Bridal Showers May Come Your Way, They Bring the Flowers for Which You Pay

11. Countdown to Bridal Blastoff

12. The Calm Before the Storm Is Not So Calm

13. Cold Feet on a Hot August Night

14. Last Dance

Final Thoughts

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