From Chicken Soup for the Romantic Soul

The Anniversary

It has been wisely said that we cannot really love anybody at whom we never laugh.

Agnes Repplier

My wife and I celebrated our seventeenth anniversary the other day. Not in commemoration of our wedding, but in recognition of our first date (we were high school sweethearts). And, as we were reminiscing, I admitted that our relationship almost never got off the ground.

“What do you mean?!” my wife demanded.

I smiled. “I was afraid of your dad.”

The man was, and still is, huge. He was the proverbial father teenagers would look at and say, “I’M GOING TO DIE!”

“But you were brave, for me,” my wife said sweetly. “What did you do when you knocked on my door? Did my dad answer?”

“All dads answer the door on first dates,” I replied. “If I remember it right, my tongue swelled up in fear and I almost suffocated to death.”

“Did my dad say anything to you?”

“No, he just stood there staring at me. I think he thought I was raising money door-to-door for the mute.”

“Why do you think that?”

“He gave me a dollar.”

“Well, apparently, you were okay—he let us go out, didn’t he?”

“True,” I replied. “But before we left, he looked at me, then he looked at you, and then he looked at my car.”


“It was like he was telling me a little story through telepathy.”

“What was the story about?”

“A horny high school student who now walks with a limp.”

Her eyes flashed with a sudden realization. “Is that why you never held my hand in front of my dad?”

I nodded. “I was afraid he was going to say something.”

“Like what?”

“Like, ‘Hey, Romeo, do you want to keep that arm?’”

Of course, our first date was nothing like a week later when I went over to my future wife’s house. It was the day before I was set to leave for spring vacation with my family. Her parents were gone, so, like high school kids do, we necked on the sofa.

Next thing I know, her parents are rolling into the driveway an hour earlier than planned. With my hair tousled about, I start going nuts, shouting “Our Father, who art in heaven,” while my future wife was behind me spitting into her hand and smoothing down my cowlick.

Positioning myself on the couch to look as if I had been reading an interesting National Geographic article on apple maggots, her dad walks in and proceeds straight to the living room like a bounty hunter.

“Hi,” I said, greeting him like a hoarse soprano. I would have also waved, but I got a paper cut from clutching the magazine like a life preserver, and I was trying to stop the bleeding with a linen doily.

Finally, as beads of sweat were rolling down my neck, the giant spoke in his deep, dark voice: “So, when are you leaving, Ken?”

“Right now,” I answered, jumping up to go.

He looked at me for a moment, and then started laughing. “I meant on vacation.”

“My dad still loves to talk about that,” my wife remarked.

I can only hope to be half as scary when my daughter starts dating.

Ken Swarner

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