You get the quest of my love

Things were simpler before they invented love. Once upon a time, if a young man was interested in a young woman, he would simply seek out the girl’s father and say, “Do you mind?” The father would say “Be my guest,” and everyone would walk away happy. Not the girl, necessarily but this was also long before they invented equality.

Sometimes a father might demand something of the lad. It might be gold or a heifer or a light massage. Or it might be a quest. The more complicated or dangerous the quest, the more worthy the successful suitor would prove himself to be. It’s from this notion that the idea of romance was born, and later, love, and later still, reality television.

Yeah they do!

Yeah they do!

These days a father might be satisfied knowing his daughter’s suitor can hold down a steady job and has not gone overboard on the tattoos. But I like the idea of a young man proving himself worthy.

My wife and I met at university in New Brunswick, and after a couple of months of serious dating and less serious schoolwork, we hopped the train to visit her family in Sherbrooke. During that first long weekend, my future mother-in-law asked us if we wouldn’t mind washing the kitchen ceiling. We were happy to do it. My future brothers-in-law, however, were appalled.

“She made him wash the ceiling!” they say to this very day when this story gets told around the table, along with the story about the time I scaled the wall and crooned a New Kids on the Block song through the window to one of the brothers. But that was a different weekend.

Back to the ceiling: no one made me wash the ceiling. We were asked and were glad to help out. More important, it demonstrated that I was easygoing, that I was handy with a rag, that I wasn’t sensitive to the solvents (thus ensuring the prospect of hardy offspring), and that I had courage, namely the courage to stand on tippy chairs. I proved myself worthy, Deb’s mom got a clean ceiling and her brothers got a story to tell. Everyone was a winner.

Fast-forward 25 years. Just before Christmas, daughter Katie brought home her boyfriend for the first time. No doubt the visit was prefaced with a lot of warnings: “We have cats. And a dog. And you might not want to sit on the sofa in new pants. And there are random rolls of toilet paper around the house, but it’s okay; they’re mostly for allergy purposes. Also: my parents.” And so on.

If visiting the Murray house wasn’t already intimidating (and somewhat of a health risk), we had also somehow signed up Katie that first evening to serve hors d’oeuvres at a Christmas party. Somehow we said her boyfriend would help out too.

“They made him serve at a reception where he knew absolutely no one!” our family will be saying for years to come.

No, we didn’t make him. He could have easily stayed home and read the graffiti wall in our kitchen. Wait: didn’t Katie mention the graffiti wall? Instead, he gamely accepted the challenge. He did something he didn’t want to do and he did it without complaining. That boy’s going to make a fine husband someday.

This particular quest was purely accidental but I’m thinking of making them a regular part of the meet-and-greet repertoire. As the father of three girls, I expect I’ll have ample opportunity.

“Hie thee hence and fetch unto me the golden hair of the antediluvian llama that guards the fiery Portal of Qkwaam and also the sundry missives in the Mailbox of CanPost, being sure to jiggle the key because it’s tricky.”


“Yon litter box doth need de-clumping. See to it. And yon litter box also. And also that one yon as well.”


“An English major, art thou? Dost thou feel capable of a columnistic enterprise of a humoristic bent, say 650 words, forsooth? Tarry not, for the deadline is nigh. Like noon.”

That’s the beauty of quests: you get to use old-timey language, not to mention abuse your position.

And what about the girls my son brings home? Do they need to prove themselves worthy? Am I not perpetuating some kind of double standard? Listen, I come from a long line of Murray men who are just happy to have a girl talk to them, so I’m not about to scare one off.

Besides, my son will already be doing a quest for the girl’s father so I wouldn’t want to double up; I don’t do re-quests.

About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
This entry was posted in Family - whadya gonna do?, It Really Did Happen! and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to You get the quest of my love

  1. Deborah the Closet Monster says:

    Thanks for helping me start the morning with chuckles!

  2. Karen says:

    Very, very funny. 🙂

    I have two young girls, and dating is a long way off (my husband and I are hoping they wait to start dating until they’re at least 30, or we’re dead. Whichever comes first), but I hope I will greet their suitors with your ease and grace, as well as a long “To Do” list of tasks for them to complete.

  3. Elyse says:

    You cannot compare washing a ceiling to serving h’or doe revs (as spell-check calls the tasty morsels). Sometimes there is spinach involved.

  4. markbialczak says:

    And forever you know that BF I can tell the difference between pate and spanakopita. Priceless piece, Ross.

  5. The Cutter says:

    I’ve already told my daughter that any boy she brings home will have to wrestle me. If she protests against this too much, then I’ll dress up in a singlet and headgear while doing it.

  6. Nic says:

    The old-timey statements were a delight to read out loud. Thank you for that!

  7. Twindaddy says:

    This is one of many reasons I’m glad I have three boys.

  8. Jennie Saia says:

    “I don’t do re-quests.” So, so punny. I love it!

    When I went on my first “date” (fourth grade, supervised, to the skating rink), my father made my “suitor” fill out a document he found online called “An Application to Date my Daughter.” It was 12 pages long and included family lineage going three generations back. And the kid filled it out! So sweet. I think I’m into this questing idea, although I’d definitely make the same demands of a girl dating my son!

  9. I don’t do tippy chairs. It’s how I was raised. When my wife and I first started dating, I let it be known. Only sturdy chairs for me. Preferably with some padding. On second thought, I’ll just sit on the couch forever.

  10. Amanda Fox says:

    Oh Ross, I’m so glad to know you are good with rags.

    As far as my son goes – my younger one – I’m glad if he brings home a girl who is not an alcoholic, and who speaks in complete sentences. Yes, they are always extremely attractive, but that’s about where the good news ends.

  11. Tez says:

    After enduring so many dorks disguising themselves as my daughter’s boyfriends I despaired of her ever finding anyone worthy as a son-in-law. I sent each one on quests, such as popping to the shops to pick up groceries, but each failed miserably. Actually, I sent them on errands just to get them out of the house; they were eating me out of house and home. So glad those days are over and the SiL I finally got is a treasure.

  12. benzeknees says:

    I’m sure if my first mother-in-law had known of this practice she would have had me prepare a 7 course meal for my new in-laws, a weekend of waiting hand & foot on her “precious son” & a few weeks of putting up with “every excuse in the book for not doing something” & letting him get away with it while smiling & not complaining. Only then, she might have accepted me as her new son’s bride – but then again, no!

  13. cat9984 says:

    When my husband went to my parents’ house for the first time, my father’s cat climbed up (? he was sitting at the time) Curt’s legs and looked at him. Since she was not prone to climbing on people the first time she met them, so we thought that was her sign of approval. (either than or he smelled like food)

  14. nobsj says:

    I subjected my sister’s boyfriend to Harry Potter trivia. He turned out to be quite the Hufflepuff.

  15. Lily says:

    I was really hoping there would be more laser tag talk in this post. Oh well. It’s always so weird meeting the parents of the person you like. Or just meeting parents in general. Or just liking someone. Life is weird and uncomfortable.
    I didn’t even know ceilings needed to be cleaned. I’ve been living in squalor.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      I was telling Bill at pinklightabre yesterday that I always add a photo to my posts, no matter what. Sometimes I just pick at random because I’m all about the words, baby!
      Yeah, I’m glad I don’t like anyone anymore.
      Finally: I believe that was the first and last ceiling I ever cleaned. Except for the time with the shaken Coke can. Come to think of it, I’ve probably cleaned a lot of ceilings.

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