When I started to date again after my divorce, I quickly realized that my parents had absolutely no idea what to do with the idea. The first clue came when I stopped through North Carolina without the kids and was riding somewhere in the back of my parents' car (a situation that brings on a Pavlovian urge to roll my eyes and say "whatever" a lot). I mentioned that I was thinking about buying a house, and my dad held forth that I should be careful because "in just over 10 years, Tweak will be starting college, and then Tink will be gone a year after that. And then you'll be alone, so you won't need a big place anymore." I responded that I was only in my late 30s and not completely homely, so it was entirely likely that I wouldn't be alone the rest of my life. He was completely at a loss for words, which is rare for him.
Later, I mentioned this to McDreamy, and he said that his parents had been similar, but they'd always been that way. When McDreamy was in high school and had his first real girlfriend, his father, immediately upon learning that his son was dating a girl, called the girl's parents and invited them to dinner, not just to be nice (which it was), but because he figured these would be his son's future in-laws, so they should get off on the right foot. McDreamy's parents started dating in college, and they'd never really seriously dated anyone else. They're Cuban-American, so there were cultural factors at work, too. If you were dating someone, you were probably going to marry that person.
Once I thought about it, that story explained a lot about my parents, too. They started dating when they were, I shit you not, 15 years old. If I'd picked a spouse when I was 15 ... I can't even imagine the horror. In today's parlance, I might have married a vampire. Or a werewolf. Whichever was hotter. My parents dated off and on through most of high school and college and married when they were, no fucking kidding, 21 years old. At 21, I might have at least managed to pick the vampire or werewolf most capable of constructing a complete sentence, but that's about it.*
That's just what they did back then - they all wanted to be 40 when they were 20. This made it difficult enough for me the first time around, as the only child of a former Marine who'd become a state prosecutor. Every time I expressed interest in a boy (and as a heterosexual teenage girl, I did that a lot, mostly when I was conscious and breathing), there was much parental consternation and hand-wringing about the boy and his long-term prospects. I wasn't proposing to marry any of these people - I was more intent on going to college and saving the world, or something cool, ideally with my shirtless vampire/werewolf boyfriend in tow. The nuance was lost on my parents.
BRIEF ASIDE: For the record, Edward and Jacob can't hold a candle to Angel (my first vampire love), or Bill Compton, Eric Northman, or Alcide Herveaux. I'm just saying.
As for my dad, I'm not sure he has stopped twitching at the thought of me dating and possibly getting re-married someday. Perhaps I should make him a Blackberry Pisco Sour.
*To any former boyfriends who may be reading, please don't be offended, as I know you had many wonderful qualities, which I probably overlooked because I was too busy projecting other qualities on you, and possibly imagining you shirtless with fangs.
**She doesn't actually do this.