The Dating Game

An outtake from family photos circa 2011. By the fabulous James S. Wood.

Dating sucks.

I never know what to wear. I get wicked nervous and tongue-tied. It’s very, very, VERY nervewracking.

And I’m not even the one doing it.

I’m not talking about ME dating. Heck, I’ve been married more years than I have fingers and toes, I think. Wait … let me check. Yup, 20 are still there and I have been married more years than that. But dating is now a reopened, festering zombie wound because … I have kids. And the baby MY BABY just started going out.

The first dip into the dating pool was a group affair to a homecoming dance.

“It’s not a date,” insisted No. 3.

“Does SHE know that?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

I pressed further and turns out she made all the arrangements and bought the $30 ticket. Sounded like a you-know-what to me.

Dating, or rather “dating,” if you are my son, is very weird in the 21st century — for the parents. Once a mom has a first and last name, she can go snoop around social media — but, only to a point because no one under 30 is on Facebook and my only other soc med experience is Instagram, which apparently is also not really for the under-30 set. I sleuthed around and thought I’d found HER, only to discover that No. 1 had already tracked down the young lady on this other app and there was no question — despite the existence of 32 people with this same exact name — this was THE girl.


“Too easy” was the sassy response.

She searched under his followers and cross-referenced. I learned something new! An old dog CAN learn new techs!

There’s this VSCO photography app, which I’d heard about before for taking and editing pictures. I’d actually downloaded it but then never even used it because it was too much work. Apparently it’s morphed into a more specialized app that allows its users to take and upload photos and then edit the subjects into skimpier clothes. Now, I understand that parents of daughters are every bit as nervous and leery about their girls dating but when those moms go lurking around a teenage boy’s social media, they’ll find maybe one post and it’s of the kid sliding into home plate. Literally. I know this because I also equally opportunity snoop all my son’s male friends and none of them has more than two pictures posted and they are playing baseball.

For added variety, sometimes the boys post pics of themselves standing at home plate getting ready to hit a pitch. Perfectly innocent. The posts I’ve seen from teenage girls look like a lot like audition outtakes from “Girls Gone Wild, Junior Edition.”*

Trust me, it’s a much scarier adventure for the mom of a boy to go searching around.

But anyway, back to No. 3’s not-a-date date … I got the lowdown on the getting ready and the dance, and there was talk of getting together at a friend’s house post-dance and turns out SHE had a midnight curfew (I knew for sure I liked her parents even if I hadn’t met her) and then settled in on the couch to obsessively track him all night.

Looked like dinner was fastfood on the east side. Then, a fashionably cool arrival 45 minutes after the dance had started. Wait?! Was this right? They left so soon? After only about 40 minutes? Actually that does track with what I remember about high school dances. They tend to be quite lame.

I recognized the next address as that of his friend. So I lightly dozed on the couch with Dog No. 3, waiting for Kid No. 3’s arrival.

At 11:27, my phone jumped.

“We’re about to be home.”

“Who’s WE and who’s driving?!!”

Turns out they drove together and she was behind the wheel. I checked Find My Friends. Huh, they were only a few minutes away.

I scurried from the couch to peek out the front window. While the car came up our driveway faster than I would have preferred, I did take comfort that it was a good-sized, safe-looking sedan and they were both very loud and chatty. Good. Nothing to hide, right? But then, they both started walking up the driveway, I ran over to the other window. Wait! Why is the front door opening!Why are they BOTH coming in the house?!


What do I do? Say ‘hey’? Too weird, it would show I’d very obviously been waiting up. And I was wearing my husband’s hole-y, oversized “mini van mega FUN” T-shirt that I adopted along with a pair of Victoria’s Secret heart boxers older than all of my children. AND I had on BOTH top and bottom retainers. And my Coke-bottle glasses.

This was not the first impression I wanted to make. I ran to the back bedroom, flipped on the light and beelined for the closet.

There was giggling and quasi hushed tones as they entered the house and then I heard the bathroom door shut. One of the dogs started barking madly.

“Hey,” No. 3 poked his head into the closet. “I saw the light go on. What’s up?”

“Yeah, uh, I was looking for something,” I stammered.


He jerked his thumb toward the door. “She had to go to the bathroom,” he said.

Ooooooh, that makes sense. I looked at him, he was not dressed in the same outfit he left the house in. He looked like someone from the Village People—jeans, no shoes, no shirt, construction vest and helmet.

“Uh, why are you dressed like that?” I asked.

“We went to a Halloween party after the dance.”

“Oh, I didn’t know it was a party.”

“It was.”

The faucet in the the bathroom started running.

“Well, uh, I’ll let you two say good night,” I said and then jogged down to the other hallway and hid, er, WAITED in that bathroom.

One thing’s for certain — regardless of how this whole dating thing turns out, I definitely have to up my pajama game. 

*Not judging. I would have done the same thing had such wondrous technology existed when I was a teen. BECAUSE I HAD THE BODY FOR IT THEN. Too bad I didn’t realize it.

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