Jenny Girl began dating a very nice boy a few months back. Not long after he asked her to “be his,” she warned him about The Ring of Fire. Her brothers had been drooling to do it ever since the idea came to them her freshman year of High School, but never had the chance until “The Boyfriend” came along.
At first I was unsure that The Boyfriend should be put through The Ring of Fire. He seemed an upstanding fellow with an endearing tendency toward shyness which tempted me to shield him from The Brothers. Plus, I feared he would spontaneously burst into flame during the process and didn’t want to return him to his mother as a pile of emotional ash…until he kissed my baby girl.
She shared the momentous event, all glowing and happy, and then skipped upstairs to her room, feet touching nary a step. Smiling after her I turned to the men in my family and declared “The Ring of Fire is on, boys!”
The Brothers got down to the business of planning and eventually the date was set: Wednesday, 11am so that Troy and I could attend on our lunch hours.
The Boyfriend was punctual. Jenny Girl was permitted to come downstairs for an encouraging hug and then banished back to her room. He was invited to take a seat on the hard wooden stool opposite The Brothers who sat on the comfy couch.
Each brother held three things: a pen, a sheet of paper with a list of questions, and their weapon of choice: steel pipe, nine iron, and a shovel which the oldest continually drummed his fingers upon.
Johnathan: Before we begin we would like to let you know that, of the guys Jenny has been interested in, we like you the most. That being said, we will not be merciful. There are 18 questions here. Five of them are make or break, so if you answer one of those wrong the interview will stop, and you will have ten seconds to leave the premises before we come after you. (Turning to his brothers) Should we tell him ahead of time what these questions are?
Tommy: (smacking the pipe against his palm, looking The Boyfriend in the eye) No. If he can’t figure out which questions would be make or break, we have our answer.
Johnathan: Fair enough.
Tommy: (To The Boyfriend) When is a good time to have sex? (Yes, that was the first question. Poor guy)
The Boyfriend: (Quickly and firmly in a relieved in a “Yes!-I-know-this-one kind of way) Marriage! (There is an uncomfortable silence as the boys mark their papers which makes him panic and add), or never; whichever you guys prefer.
Johnathan: Why do you want to date our sister?
The Boyfriend: Oh, gosh, I mean, there are just so many reasons, it would take a forever to list them all!
Johnathan: We have time.
The Boyfriend: Um, well, you know, I mean, she’s…pretty, and, um, smart….and, you know…funny, and ah, pretty. Yeah. Yeah, she’s great.
(Jenny said later that this is the one question she knew was coming, so warned him about it. He actually practiced the answer with her and it was lovely, but he drew a total blank in the heat of the moment)
Timothy: How should you react if the two of you have a fight?
The Boyfriend: She is always right. Always. Maybe we could also talk about it sometimes, but I’m always wrong and she is always right.
Tommy: Are you familiar with “The Bases.”
The Boyfriend: (We could have read by the light of his red glowing face) Um, yeah, I think so.
Tommy: Would you name them for us please.
The Boyfriend: (In obvious physical pain) Um…well…I don’t know them exactly, but, you know, I’m familiar with the concept of…the…you know…bases…I guess.
(Tommy then stands to “chart” the bases through a brief interpretive dance)
Tommy: Now you know them. So, when is it OK to go to second base?
The Boyfriend: Oh, wow, um…after a long, long, long time – at least two, three years – at least.
Troy: (Not able to restrain himself) Who determines when you move to the next base?
The Boyfriend: (Soberly) Jenny.
Troy: Thank you. Proceed, boys.
Timothy: If you and Jenny are being physical and she says “no,” what does that mean?
The Boyfriend: That I should leave the premises immediately.
Timothy: We would have taken “stop,” but that works.
Johnathan: Who is Jesus to you and what is your favorite Bible verse?
The Boyfriend: Oh, wow, Jesus is, like, everything. He’s, you know, big!
Johnathan: That’s what he is. Who is he to you?
The Boyfriend: Oh, well, he died for me, you know.
Johnathan: OK, yes, and your favorite Bible verse?
The Boyfriend: Um well, it’s all so good, you know, the Bible, it’s a big book. There are just so many good ones.
Johnathan: Name one please.
The Boyfriend: OK, um, I always liked that one about nothing, you know, separating us from Jesus love for us…not demons or anything else (like the scary big brothers of your girlfriend, for instance).
They then went on to ask:
– How his relationship with his parents is and did they like Jenny
– A good age for marriage
– His grades and plans after high school
– How he would defend Jenny if needed
– What it means to treat a woman with honor and respect
– What does mistreating a woman look like
– Are a person’s feelings more important than being honest with them
– The healthy way to end a relationship
– If you mistreated our sister, what would you expect us to do to you? (The Boyfriend: use the items you are holding, on me).
The Brothers then instructed The Boyfriend to stay on the stool while they left the room to calculate his results. They tallied their scores and converted them into a percentile, then went back to the couch and glared at him silently until even Troy and I were uncomfortable. Finally Johnathan said, “Welcome to the family!” Relief and joy washed over The Boyfriend’s face. The Brothers then offered him their score sheets so that he could see where they expect him to improve, which he eagerly accepted. Jenny was allowed to give him a quick hug before The Brothers whisked The Boyfriend off to lunch.
After, Jenny asked me how The Boyfriend did. “His answers were good. The Brothers gave him a 91%, but frankly, he was in with Dad and me just for agreeing to do The Ring of Fire. That boy slayed a dragon for you today, Baby.”
“Don’t I know it!” she replied. “It’s wonderful, isn’t it, mom?”
“Yes, it sure is.” I said, adding, not aloud, “Because now if he gets out of line we can legally kill him.”