Now that Meelyn has entered the workforce through her job at a local upper-end fast food establishment, she is having lots of new experiences, like resisting the temptation to vault over the counter and pull the hair from the head of the woman who orders a cheeseburger with tomato, ketchup and lettuce and, by the way, no cheese.
Another new experience is the one where men, attracted by the big smile on the cute little blonde at the register, ask her out on dates.
One good-looking guy with a great tan and light brown hair (as per Mee's description) came in last Tuesday and ordered his lunch in a mildly flirty way -- and here I have to interject that I am now so old that I can't imagine ordering a Beef-n-Cheddar combo in a come-hither-ish manner; I personally find that the Chicken Cordon Bleu makes me feel more the coquette -- and, as she counted out his change, said, "How old are you?"
Meelyn said she looked him straight in the eye and said, "Sixteen."
Crestfallen, he said, "Well, I guess I can't ask you out on a date then, seeing as how I'm twenty-one."
When she told this story at the dinner table, my husband and I locked glances across the Pfaltzgraff. He looked like he had swallowed an entire chicken leg without chewing, and I felt the need to pour a glass of iced tea over my head to cool the tide of protective mother bear rage that swept over me. Twenty-one? TWENTY-ONE!!
[The nonsense letters above are intended to express the range of thoughts that were all jumping up and down and clamoring for attention inside my head, some of which were so poorly formulated that they just sounded like train whistles]
My first coherent thought was that at least this guy had the integrity to realize that it is a stupid thing for a man his age to date an underage girl. A lot of guys wouldn't have.
We talked about this incident, as you can imagine, with the Number One Important Topic being how young ladies do not accept dates from unknown men, even those of outward hotness, who attempt a casual pick up. Unless, of course, she wants to risk becoming the kind of girl who ties maraschino cherry stems into knots with her tongue at kegger parties.
The next day, Meelyn and I talked about it again, and she mentioned that she's taken to re-reading this excellent book, The ABCs of Choosing a Good Husband: How to Find and Marry a Great Guy by Steve Wood, founder of the Family Life Center International. She's read it once before as part of her freshman year health class, because I don't think a good time to tell a girl what to look for in a husband is when she's already started dating. Or, heaven forbid, engaged to an unsuitable guy, which is what we call in Indiana, "shuttin' the barn door after the horses done run off."
I've had Meelyn read several books about dating, courtship and marriage (this year it's Aisling's turn) and I've told both of them that there is no need for either of them to get involved with a total loser because there is already a substantial LINE formed to get messed up by those guys.
If there is a man who is:
1. addicted to drugs or alcohol
4. mean to his mother
5. the father of several children by different babymamas
6. a great fan of the ganja
8. criminally minded
9. constantly down on his luck through his own fault
10. a drop out
11. a big, fat liar
13. an eternal child
14. a "playa"
15. a stupid buffoon
IF, I say, there is a man who exhibits these qualities of low character and complete unfitness as a candidate for one's life's mate, there will be a queue of women fourteen miles long, panting and desperate to be with him, to prove how misunderstood he is, to attempt to take care of him, to weep over him and to bear (more of) his children who will grow up to perpetuate the cycle and be just as screwed up as the old man.
I used to listen to Dr. Laura when the girls were small, and although I stopped because my ears were starting to corrode, I do think that she had many things of value to say, and here's one that stuck with me:
In the animal kingdom, the males of some species fight to see who is a worthy enough mate for the female. The female mountain goat, let's say, gets the ram who is big and tough and aggressive, which in mountain goatworld is a good thing. That means that the tempting she-goat will pair up with a virile male goat and they'll hopefully have vigorously healthy goatbabies who will be able to leap from one peak to the next with great strength and agility.
Among humans, however, Dr. Laura said, many women have abdicated their role as the choosers of a worthy mate. Whether this is because some girls don't think they deserve a good man or whatever, I don't know. Or maybe they're just desperate for love and feel that even a bad man is better than no man at all? At any rate, when confronted with a man who has a rap sheet long enough to circle the track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, or is mean, or has been spreading his seed, so to speak, over the tri-county area, some women will set out to make him their pet project instead of RUNNING AWAY.
Anyone who has lived a while has seen this kind of thing played out over and over again and it is a huge tragedy for the women, but even more so for their children. In the interests of fairness, there are men who suffer at the hands of women, too: many of us have had the experience of seeing a guy who married a pretty girl who was a total princessy, high-maintenance [*bleep!*] To Catholics who believe what the Bible said about divorce and remarriage*, it is a thorny problem indeed. Marriage can be hard enough with two loving, stable, companionable adults without saddling themselves with a spouse who is clearly a liability.
So when it comes to the very beginnings, sweet-sixteen-and-never-been-kissed and all it implies, the very first flirtatious comments made by personable young are important. Kindness and civility are always a factor, but the immediate decision to go out on a date with anyone who asks is something that can only be tempered by age, experience, and lots and lots of talking with Mom and Dad.
And, I don't know, maybe a pack of wolves being turned loose on some impertinent dude.
Also from the Family Life Center International, The ABCs of Choosing a Good Wife: How to Find and Marry a Great Girl. In my opinion, teenagers need to read BOTH books, in order to know what they should be looking for, and also to know what's being looked for.
*Divorce and Remarriage
Malachi 2: 14-16 - for I hate divorce, says the Lord
Matthew 5: 32-33 - to divorce or marry divorced wife is adultery
Matthew 19: 4-6, 9 - to divorce wife and remarry is adultery
Mark 10: 11-12 - if either divorced and remarries = adultery
Luke 16:18 - to divorce and remarry or marry divorced = adultery
Romans 7: 2-3 wife consorts = adulteress if living, but not if dead
I Corinthians 7: 10-11 - if wife separates, stay single or reconcile
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