One of my favorite dating stories involves my grandparents.
They grew up in small town Kansas—like, more cows than humans small, 300-people max small. They went to high school together and would have to mosey over to a slightly bigger town when they wanted to go on an actual “date, date.” Every time they did whatever people back in the day did on dates in that slightly bigger town, they would always end up at the Dairy Queen.
So there, at the Dairy Queen, my grandfather, who had this James Dean thing going on, thick, slicked back black hair and white cotton shirt with the cigarette pack in the sleeve, would ask my ridiculously stunning red-haired freckled-faced grandmother what she wanted.
And every time my grandma would reply, “surprise me,” and every time my grandpa would order her a strawberry shortcake. There was no rhyme or reason behind that decision.
She had never stated that she really cared for strawberries or shortcake; it wasn’t that she hated eating it, she was just too bashful to make a decision and my grandpa thought that if she had eaten it the first time there was no reason to change it up.
My grandmother became pregnant while still in school.
She, and everyone else in the town, had been brought up Catholic. Her mother, feeling disgraced, shipped her off to Georgia to live with her older sister and husband on a military base there so she could have the baby without the whole town knowing about her pre-marital liaisons. But it didn’t end there.
My grandfather’s mom also got involved in what seems like soap opera drama. My grandfather’s mother would write letters to my grandma in Georgia pretending to be my grandfather claiming to want to break up, to not be able to handle it, to not want to have anything to do with the soon to be born child. My grandma didn’t believe it and on winter break, my grandpa took a train down to Georgia and married my grandma the day after Christmas.
They’ve been married now for 53 years.
Maybe they’ve been together this long out of spite for everyone trying to destroy their relationship; maybe they’ve been together this long because they got used to the habit of it, or maybe they’ve been together because they actually love each other.
I’m going to be a romantic here and go with the latter.
Over the years my grandma has given me advice on finding the right guy and so today I am sharing her words of wisdom with the rest of the world.
Grandma’s Advice for Finding the Perfect Mate
1. Good Teeth
I’m in fourth grade; we’re walking about the square fair together, which is basically like a crafts fair with booths of stuff made out of beer cans and wine corks etc., when we pass this man who is cracking up over something.
“He has nice teeth,” my grandma says, “Make sure you get with a guy with nice teeth. You don’t want to stare at a rotten mouth the rest of your life.”
Point taken, Grandma. Good teeth lead to good smiles, which show a fun-loving side and reveals that the person had good hygiene. Unfortunately that advice has had me, for at least a decade, falling for guys with James-Franco smiles, who usually get me in a lot of trouble, but they’re always fun while they last.
2. Good Person
I’ve just broken up with my boyfriend. I’m twenty-six, on the phone, in tears.
“You’re better than him Krystal. Be with a guy who’s a good person; he doesn’t have to be that good looking.”
While I agree with the good person remark, if the guy has nice teeth, there’s a chance he’s going to be alright looking at least. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with finding a guy who’s both good looking and a good person; it might be more of a challenge, but it would be a worthwhile one nonetheless.
3. Good Money
We’re in the city at Kohl’s or JC Penney’s or somewhere. I’m in eighth grade. My grandma is buying herself another purse.
“Don’t be with a guy who gets mad if you spend money on yourself.”
One of the quickest ways to cause harm to a relationship is to fight about finances. When my grandma tells me all the time to find a “rich guy,” I always take that to mean a man rich in spirit, or at least wealthy in that positive sort of mindful way that a person can be wealthy without necessarily having a ton of money—though I’m sure having both wouldn’t hurt anything.
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Ed: Catherine Monkman