What do her parents want - James Dean?

By Paul Lester, December 17, 2010

I don't know about you, but I tend to get on rather well with parents and children. Not my own, you understand - other people's. I seem to have no trouble entertaining and/or controling other people's kids whenever the need arises, whereas my three are generally unmoved either by my efforts to impose discipline or by my attempts at humour.

You would think, being tall, with a shaved head and the demeanour of a slightly camp Phil from EastEnders, I might be able to instil even a modicum of terror when necessary, but no: they laugh when I try to come over all Victorian father and look stony-faced when I try to be funny.

The same goes for mums and dads. Mine were mostly unimpressed by me, throughout infancy, adolescence and beyond. Everyone else's, meanwhile, have treated me like the proverbial prodigal son, albeit an Old Testament version.

This has been both a blessing and a curse when it comes to relationships. I'd swear some of my ex-girlfriends were a little put off by my getting on so well with their parents when really, deep down, they wanted a rebel to ride into their lives on a Triumph Bonneville like a Jewish James Dean. Then again, whenever things deteriorated with the women in question, I could always rely on a cosy, consoling chat over a cuppa with their folks.

It's forever been the case. As regular readers of this column can attest, I'm not just on speaking terms with my erstwhile in-laws, they still invite me over for Pesach and Chanucah.

Her mother and father can’t bear to be in the same room as me

To sum up, then: parents love me, even when their daughters don't.

Somehow, though, with my latest squeeze, who I've been seeing for the last couple of months, possibly via a bizarre glitch in the space-time continuum that has turned reality on its head, the girl can't get enough of me while the parents can't bear to be in the same room as me.

To be fair, you can sort of see why they might not have taken a shine to me. Come on, what's to like about a public school- and university-educated north London Jewish man who divides his week between working his (matzah) balls off and raising three kids? Who would want their only daughter to consort with a reprobate like that?

Maybe they had in mind a Jewish James Dean. Still, for whatever reason, I found myself last week having to attend another Chanucah evening with another partner's parents, only this time I wasn't the golden boy but the bad boy. And I went to show them that I'm not the corrupting influence that they apparently fear, which is a bit of a joke considering that probably the most heinous thing I've ever done was un-stick a stamp and reuse it. Someone call the cops.

The evening went well, or as well as can be expected given that it was spent grimacing through gritted teeth (them) and overcompensating for a vague suspicion that I'm somehow feckless by generally behaving like the most unthreatening suitor this side of an early-1970s Michael Crawford sitcom (me).

Whether or not it worked remains to be seen, but just in case, on the way home my new young lady and I did stop off and look at motorbikes.

Last updated: 11:00am, December 17 2010