Opinion

Sugar and spice and a father's advice

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en I was little, I truly believed girls were made of sugar and spice and everything nice. 

In fact, girls intimidated me. From their ribbons and curls to their crisply pressed jumpers, they seemed other-worldly to a shy boy like me.

Every Sunday night after supper, Dad would talk to us about anything that was on our minds. So naturally when I heard about a new scientific discovery on the radio, I asked him all about it:

“Dad, the man on the radio said that girls have an extra layer of fat.”

“Yes, I’ve heard that too.”

“Dad, is that why girls are better at swimming across Lake Ontario than guys?”

“Yeah, maybe.”

“So then why do they call women the weaker sex?”

“Well, physically they aren’t as strong as men.”

“But wouldn’t you have to be incredibly strong to swim across Lake Ontario?”

“Well yes, but…”

“And the man on the radio said women live longer than men.”

“That’s true.”

“Well then if they’re really strong and better swimmers and live longer, aren’t we the weaker sex?”

That made Mom laugh and Dad quickly changed the subject: 

“Did you learn anything new in school this week, Ray?”

“Yes Sir, we learned about the Titanic. The teacher said that when they got into the lifeboats it was women and children first.”

“Absolutely. That’s the unwritten law of the sea!”

“But women have an extra layer of fat and are better swimmers.”

“So?”

“So from now on shouldn’t it be men and children first?”

“Never mind,” he replied. “It’s bedtime.”

When I got into my middle teens I met a girl I really liked. So one Sunday night I asked Dad for some advice.

“Dad how do you get a girl to like you?”

“Well let me tell you how not to do it. Once in Holland my friend Hans and I went on a double date. I was just like you. Much too timid. I spent the evening talking to that girl about poetry and the beauty of the moon and the stars. I didn’t even try to kiss her. The next day I asked Hans to find out if she liked me. And you know what she said?”

“What?” I asked breathlessly.

“She said I was a dud!”

Despite Dad’s encouragement, it took me weeks to summon the courage to ask Jane (not her real name) for a date. We’d only been going out for a short while when she sat me down for a talk:

“Ray, sometimes at night my sister comes into my room and we talk about boys. The other night I told her how much I like you and she asked if you were a good kisser.”

“She did?”

“Yes, and I had to answer, ‘I don’t know, it’s been a month and he hasn’t kissed me.’”

“What did she say?” I asked uneasily.

“She said, ‘Boy! What a dud!’”

Like father, like son.

Jane and I went out for nearly two years. And yes, I did eventually kiss her. It was scary and wonderful and oh so innocent. 

Jane was lovely but it eventually became apparent that we weren’t really suited for each other. We must have split up and reunited a dozen times. In the end, her father became so exasperated that he started calling me, ‘Boomerang.’ 

I can hardly believe that thirty years have passed. And naturally, I’ve had other relationships since. But you can never fall in love for the first time twice. And despite what the old song says, a kiss is much more than a kiss when it’s a milestone on the way to maturity.

Sugar and spice and everything nice? You bet. 

Especially as time goes by.  

 

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