Our daughter texted my wife and me last week to say she wasn't single anymore.
I immediately fist-pumped and did a bad imitation of Michael Jackson moonwalking across our dining room (the visual you're getting is just as awful as the reality, I assure you), thinking she had eloped and saved me the cost of a big wedding. To say nothing of the annoyance of having to ward off dozens of women who would have found me irresistible in a tuxedo.
But it turns out that all she meant was that she was dating somebody. Oh.
My wife says that's accurate, that people who date exclusively aren't really single anymore. I call the BS card on that.
When you fill out any sort of documentation that asks about marital status, you usually have two options -- single or married. "In a committed relationship" isn't a choice, because nobody cares.
Or maybe lots of people do, but I'm not one of them. Evidence for this is Facebook, which gives a ridiculous number of options to describe a user's romantic status. In addition to married or single, you can select (and I'm not making this up) engaged, in a relationship, in a civil union, in a domestic partnership, in an open relationship, it's complicated, separated, divorced or widowed.
Apparently, deciding when and if to change a Facebook status is a really big deal. A Facebook friend who clicked "in a relationship" over the weekend received an abundance of congratulatory messages, including one that said, "It's about time" and another that said something to the effect of "glad you finally grew a pair." That last was from his mother. Ouch.
Back in my day, asking somebody to be your boyfriend or girlfriend was a semi-private matter, usually accomplished with a piece of folded notebook paper on which you scrawled, "Do you like me? Check Yes or No" and then sent with a go-between who would cross enemy lines to deliver it.
Granted, this was many years ago, when I still wore sweater vests that my mother crocheted for me, sat in the back of the classroom with a copy of Mad magazine stuffed inside my history book, and had more hair than Chewbacca. So maybe times have changed.
Granted, too, that guys who wore crocheted sweater vests, read Mad magazine, and made casual Star Wars references didn't have much experience with passing notes to members of the opposite sex. More often, guys like me received notes that said, "Do you have cooties? Yes or no" or "Did you know you have a cheese puff stuck in the back of your sweater vest? Yes or no."
Mating rituals, these were not.
So maybe I can be forgiven for not understanding the intricacies of the modern dating scene, where every box of chocolates or bouquet of roses is cause for a tweet, a text or a status update, and sometimes all three.
Or maybe I simply do not have a heart that's geared toward romance, which is possible since my reaction to every wedding announcement we receive is not, "Oh, I'm so happy for them," but rather, "Oh, how much is this going to cost me?"
My wife is excited about meeting my daughter's new young man and is already counseling me on how to dress and act. I gather that I will not be allowed to wear a crocheted sweater vest and sit in the back of the restaurant with a copy of Mad magazine, even if it is a virtual copy, in an effort to keep up with the times.
Chris Schillig is an Alliance area educator and journalist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.