So you've finally been invited for dinner by your girlfriend's parents, and you're determined to win over her dad with a finely-tuned display of charm, machismo and wit.
Well, that's probably not going to happen. But if you follow our advice, you might just get a chance to redeem yourself...
Do | Find out his hobbies
Get your girlfriend to give you the low-down on her dad's pastimes and interests. He runs model railroads in the garden shed? Ask him to show you his set-up. He's leader of the neighborhood watch? Offer to help him dob in some kids. He builds those little stick ships inside glass bottles? Steer well clear. You will break one and he will cry.
Don't | Tell him your hobbies
They aren't hobbies. They're websites.
Do | Be nice to the mum
"Uh, uuuuuurghno, yeah, sure…" you wheeze as a button pings across the room from your bursting, sweat-drenched shirt. "I would love a fifth helping of gammon & chips." Dad knows you don't want that fifth helping of gammon and chips. He knows that you didn't even want the second helping. At this point, you're basically eating at a Guantanamo Bay branch of Toby Carvery. But it's made mum happy, and he appreciates it.
Don't | Be too nice to the mum
"I can see where she gets her good looks from!" you smarm as her mum welcomes you into the house, kissing her knuckles and shifting your eyebrows up and down like a broken umbrella. "I can see where she gets her temper from!" you scream as her dad chases you around the conservatory with a meat pulveriser. You're already stealing his daughter away from him. Don't get greedy.
Do | Find out what football team he supports
Dads hate awkward silences, but they hate you more, so make sure to find a conversational comfort zone. Talk about their football club in the most pandering of terms (even if you despise them with every fibre of your being). Under no circumstance should you crack out OPTA stats chat—asinine clichés are the order of the day here. If you can imagine Jamie Redknapp saying it, then it's fine.
Don't | Talk about football if you don't follow it
We don't care how many deep-cut Wikipedia pages you've memorised in preparation, you're Just. Not. Ready. All it will take is one unwieldy turn-of-phrase or pronunciation, and he'll dedicate his whole retirement to spearheading a far-reaching family hate campaign against you. Just say you like bowling instead. It's macho-ish, and there is literally nothing he could possibly ask you about bowling.
Do | Prepare yourself for a bone-crunching handshake
For dads, a strong handshake is a demonstration of fortitude in all the areas of life they care about (including and exclusively: how hard you can grip another man's hand while retaining a smile). He'll want to leave his calloused, crippling, sausage-fingered mark, and that's fine—because bruises will heal, but the consequences of a limp handshake will be felt forevermore.
Don't | Attempt to retaliate with equal force
Just let him have this one, okay? A younger stag is stealing his precious daughter away from him, in his own home no less, and he feels justifiably threatened. He doesn't understand you, with your haircut and your pop-socks and your 2:2 in 'Buffy studies'—so the least you can do is let him wage war against your metacarpals. You deserve it.
Do | Bring loads of alcohol
A bottle of wine for mum, and a big boy box of boozy goodness for dad. Know what you've gone and done, you absolute legend? You've gone and smashed it out the bloody park. You can really make your mark by finding out his favourite brand beforehand, but any beer will do. As they say, it's the ABV that counts.
Don't | Proceed to drink it all by yourself
One to steady the nerves; nineteen more to ensure that you're just a puke-covered blip in all of their lives.
From: Esquire UK.