It's quite reasonable to hate the boyfriend of the daughter isn't it? When I'm the Dad and I know what boys of that age want to do, when I remember what I was like at that age, rather what I wanted to be like at that age. These feelings of hatred, of anger and "get your hands off my child" are all wholly natural and normal.
Until they are felt towards me. That's me, can you believe it, by C's Dad.
There we were, Sunday before last. Two people in our forties, with C's parents and relaxing and chilling. It's weird because I can sometimes see the things going through C's Dad's mind, simply because I experience them too.
I don't know how it happened but conversation got to stomachs, as it can sometimes. C's Dad was standing in front of me and asked me if I go to the gym. Of course, this being C's Dad, a situation where my very manliness was at stake, I felt the need to answer with a mixture of boastfulness and bashfulness.
"Well, you know, a bit" was the response. My body language was all shrugging shoulders knowingly, as if to say that "a bit" actually meant "pretty damn regularly but I don't like to brag about it." It's a cunning tactic, for the real answer is "a bit", but I ponce around and do a bit of cross trainer stuff then some press ups and sit ups. Then I struggle to walk down the stairs on my way out because my legs hurt so much.
C's Dad looked at me with a look that I knew well.
"Do you do stomach exercises?"
"Well a bit"
"So let's see then" and he asked me to tense my stomach. He hadn't realised that I had been tensing it, as if my life depended on it, for most of the conversation anyhow. I attempted some more.
He punched me in the stomach. Quite hard, as it goes. Outwardly I smiled and laughed. Inwardly I groaned with pain. He smiled and he laughed. Inwardly he was loving it. I could tell.
Then he attacked again.
He laughed and smiled, as if it was all jokey boys' together pats on the back behaviour. It wasn't though. It was payback time and I had to behave in a manly way. His face smiled but his fist was clenched and punching me as hard as it could possibly manage.
"Doof, doof, doof" the stomach punches came at me in a little flurry. They didn't speak, that "doof" was the noise they would have made, if they could though.
I took them like a man. I think I passed the test, not visibly flinching, not doubling over in pain. In fact I didn't even cry.
C's Dad seemed pleased with himself and I understood perfectly.