Dadbeat with Rob Campbell
We might have a new boyfriend. I believe I started a column with those words some years back, and some readers thought they had stumbled across an article about swinging rather than regular family life.
We're not that interesting: the we is a royal we, and the new almost-boyfriend belongs to one of my children, rather than to myself and my wife.
I'm not saying yet which one of my kids (boy or girl) has this bf (that's what they call them – do keep up). That way, you might for a moment think it could be a same-sex thing.
Because I've heard that, in the most right-on of households now, having a gay child is a kind of accessory with which to demonstrate one's hipness. Look at us, one of our children is gay and we don't care; goodness, we hardly even noticed.
It's the same way some people used to show off that they had a black friend if they were white, or owned a something-ese cat with exceptionally pointy ears. An exotic pet, basically.
Well we're not that interesting either. The new nearly-bf is a boy, and is hanging around with my daughter, who is a girl. I found it, this bf, in our lounge a week ago, sitting watching MY television and drinking a cup of MY tea with MY daughter. Startled, perhaps, by the sudden use of capital letters he stood up. Here was the enemy: tall, slim, articulate, handsome, young, polite, brainy. And nice with it, which is just extra annoying. It offered to shake my hand, which is slightly creepy: we're not signing a deal here.
I could almost see the speech bubbles over bf's head: "gosh, her dad's young enough to be her brother, clearly works out, and could probably kill a man if he had to – I'd better watch out, and treat her proper like. I'll certainly be bringing my own tea bags next time anyway."
I fixed him with my best 'I could have been in the SAS stare' and tried to work out in which way he was not going to cut it as a potential son-in-law. The starting point is that nobody is good enough – from then on it's just a matter of proving it.
Often it's a class thing. He looked like a lad whose parents might shop at Waitrose, and we're more Sainsbury (with forays into Asda). That could be awkward at the wedding, with his dad's BMW parked next to my Renault Clio. On the other hand my wife has advised her not to marry down, unless she wants to spend 25 years teaching someone (such as me) the difference between dinner, supper, tea and tea. And picking a partner from the same social tribe seems rather unadventurous. So the wedding's off. I found out later he's just a lad from college, and had only popped round to borrow a book.