You Can Date Boys When You're Forty: Dave Barry on Parenting and Other Topics He Knows Very Little About

ALSO BY DAVE BARRY

FICTION

Insane City

Lunatics
(with Alan Zweibel)

The Bridge to Never Land
(with Ridley Pearson)

Peter and the Sword of Mercy
(with Ridley Pearson)

Science Fair
(with Ridley Pearson)

Peter and the Secret of Rundoon
(with Ridley Pearson)

Cave of the Dark Wind
(with Ridley Pearson)

The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter

the Christmas Miracle Dog

Escape from the Carnivale
(with Ridley Pearson)

Peter and the Shadow Thieves
(with Ridley Pearson)

Peter and the Starcatchers
(with Ridley Pearson)

Tricky Business

Big Trouble

NONFICTION

I’ll Mature When I’m Dead

Dave Barry’s History of the Millennium (So Far)

Dave Barry’s Money Secrets

Boogers Are My Beat

Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway

Dave Barry Is Not Taking This Sitting Down

Dave Barry Turns 50

Dave Barry Is from Mars and Venus

Dave Barry’s Book of Bad Songs

Dave Barry in Cyberspace

Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys

Dave Barry Is NOT Making This Up

Dave Barry Does Japan

Dave Barry’s Only Travel Guide You’ll Ever Need

Dave Barry Talks Back

Dave Barry Turns 40

Dave Barry Slept Here

Dave Barry’s Greatest Hits

Homes and Other Black Holes

Dave Barry’s Guide to Marriage and/or Sex

Dave Barry’s Bad Habits

Claw Your Way to the Top

Stay Fit and Healthy Until You’re Dead

Babies and Other Hazards of Sex

The Taming of the Screw

G.
P.
PUTNAM’S
SONS

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Copyright © 2014 by Dave Barry

Photograph of Dave rappelling in Israel by Doug Shapiro.

Photograph of Dave on
The Today Show
by Katie McKee.

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Barry, Dave.

You can date boys when you’re forty : Dave Barry on parenting and other topics he knows very little about / Dave Barry.

p. cm.

ISBN 978-1-101-63149-2

1. Family—Humor. 2. Parenting—Humor. I. Title.

PN6231.F3B375 2014 2013037714

306.85'02'07—dc23

Version_1

 

To my children, Rob and Sophie, who, against all odds, turned out sane

T
his is not really a book about parenting. I say this because the title clearly refers to parenting, which may have given you the impression that the actual
book
is about parenting. But there’s a wise old saying that goes: “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Like so many wise old sayings, this is stupid, because of course most of the time you
can
judge a book by its cover. The whole
point
of the cover is to tell you what the book is about. For example, if the cover says
Cooking on a Budget
, you know the book contains inexpensive recipes; and if the cover says
Lose Weight Fast
, you know the book contains lies.

But as I say, this book isn’t about parenting. It
mentions
parenting, but it also covers many other topics, including grammar, sex, camels, women, brain surgery, sex with women, how to become a professional author, airlines, Justin Bieber and death. That’s why my original idea was to give the book a more vague and general title. Here are some of the titles I submitted to the publisher:

Dave Barry’s Vague General Book of Humor Topics

Dave Barry’s Guide to Whatever This Book Is About

Dave Barry: A Dave Barry Book, by Dave Barry

Dave Barry: You Probably Thought He Was Dead

 

But the marketing people wanted something more specific, and they liked the idea of a title that was about family and/or parenting. So after rejecting several more of my suggestions (including
Without Family, We Would Have Nothing, Except Way More Money and Spare Time
) they went with the current title,
You Can Date Boys When You’re Forty
.

Those words do appear in one of the essays in this book, and they are words that I have actually said to my daughter, Sophie. As I write this, Sophie is thirteen years old, which, as you veteran parents of daughters know, is a terrifying age because of puberty. Girls do not go through puberty the way boys do. For boys, puberty is a gradual process—it took me decades—and it’s not all that drastic. When the boy is done

Female puberty is a whole different kettle of biological fish. For years my daughter was this sweet, innocent little girl who played with dolls, slept with stuffed animals and viewed me as a wise authority figure because of all the amazing things I knew how to do, such as tell time. Then one day at about 4:30 in the afternoon, Sophie went into her bathroom (which is pink) and,
WHOOM,
some kind of massive hormone bomb went off in there. She emerged maybe forty-five minutes later having aged, biologically, at least seven years. Suddenly she was this
woman
, with legs and everything, walking around. The same thing happened pretty much simultaneously to her friends—all of them were suddenly beautiful, feminine, poised, sophisticated and several linear feet taller than the boys their age.

The day the hormone bomb detonated marked the end of the era wherein my daughter viewed me as an authority. These days, pretty much the only time she turns to me for guidance is when she can’t find the Cinnamon Toast Crunch. When she needs to discuss anything more important—school, relationships, hair, clothes, makeup, hair accessories and biological matters I don’t even want to think about—she confers with her several hundred closest girlfriends or my wife, who is also a woman. I am
way
out of the loop. I don’t even know where the loop
is
.

Nevertheless, I am, legally, Sophie’s father, and I have certain fundamental obligations, the main one being to protect her from harm, with “harm” defined as “men.” As a lifelong male myself, I am well aware of the way we think, and I don’t want anybody thinking things like that within a thousand-yard radius of my daughter.

The problem I am facing right now is boys, which, biologically, are nothing more than short men. My daughter’s school is infested with them. Lately they have taken to hanging around our house, darting around out there on bicycles and skateboards and trying to act as though they are not thinking about what they are thinking about, which we all know is
exactly
what they are thinking about.

Here’s what really bothers me:
Sometimes they get inside the house.

I blame my wife. If it were up to me, our house would be surrounded by giant (but humane) traps baited with some kind of bait that would be attractive to thirteen-year-old boys, such as fireworks or shorts that are even baggier than the shorts they’re already wearing. Every now and then we’d hear the loud
THWONK
of a steel door slamming shut, indicating that a thirteen-year-old boy had come too close to the house. I would then go outside and, after a stern warning, drive the boy out to the Everglades and release him into the wild.

But my wife allows them to come in. She has never been a thirteen-year-old boy, so she thinks it’s OK if sometimes one of them watches TV with Sophie, the two of them eating popcorn and sitting in the family room
on the exact same sofa
. If it were up to me, I would insist that the boy had to sit on an entirely separate piece of furniture, which would be located in Iceland. But because of my wife’s naive softheartedness we have this potentially catastrophic situation that requires me to casually stroll past the family room every eight to ten seconds, back and forth and back and forth, a dad on patrol, each time casually glancing inside to make sure Nothing Is Happening. I’m thinking of getting some kind of firearm, which every now and then I would casually discharge into the family-room ceiling. Ha-ha! THAT will give Mr. Short Man something to think about!

Only twenty-seven more years to go.

But I have drifted away from my point, which is that this is not really a book about parenting. It’s about many things, which you will find out if I ever stop introduhe stop incing it so you can go ahead and read it. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope that, amid the laughs, you find some actual nuggets of wisdom. If you do, let me know what they are, OK? I’ll be hovering right outside the family room.

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