When it came to entertainment, Dad had several favorite sports. I think one of his all time favorites would definitely be catch and release boyfriend fishing. As soon as Alicia and I were old enough to date, Dad became obsessed with setting us up. This obsession became more and more intense as we both got older. I remember going on a bike ride with dad as the "rescue driver" (meaning he went ahead of us in the truck and scoped out the route). He would circle back to us every five minutes or so to let me know that he had found the perfect guy for me...holding a construction sign on the side of the road a few miles up...or out baling hay at a farm nearby. He was shameless, he would stop anyone he saw, ask if they were single and if they served a mission (these seemed to be the only real selection criteria from what I saw) and then let them know he had a single daughter who was apparently desperate. I would then have to ride past and pretend not to notice the goofy looking guy in the hay field giving me the eye.
This passion was not confined to road trips. Heaven forbid you try and go to a restaurant with the man. I can't even begin to count how many waiters and bus boys I have been pawned off on during the course of a meal. "Hey, you seem like a nice guy. Did you serve a mission? Why don't you take my daughter out sometime?...Yeah that one right there trying to crawl under the table". One of my favorite memories was right after Dad had his second stroke. He was in the ICU at the University of Utah hospital for a week or so and just happened to have a young, male nurse for his entire stay. I guess I should have been grateful that Dad was feeling himself again when he started subtly and not so subtly suggesting that his nurse should really hook up with his pretty daughter. Matters only became worse when his mother came into town. Now both my Oma and my dad were pretty much deaf but didn't seem to realize that no one else in the room was. In front of both me and the poor nurse, they would start to talk about what a cute couple we would make. Then they would comment on how he was not a member of the church but maybe he could convert. Are you kidding me? We're both sitting right here!
But as much fun as catching boyfriends was, dad's real passion was all about the release. It took me years to bring home a boy that I was actually interested in dating, not because I was embarrased by my family, but more because I was afraid dad would run him off. Dad was shameless when it came to the overprotective father act. He lived for it. As soon as I showed up at home with any boy (regardless of whether or not we were actually dating) dad would bust out the shot gun...or the switch blade...or a pistol with a highly acurate laser scope...or a grenade (a grenade? Who even owns a grenade for pete's sake?) and start to explain exactly what would happen to the aforementioned gentleman should he decide to lay his hands on me, get me home late or in any way come even close to making me cry.
Dad would put signs on the door stating "Potential boyfriend endurance trials, get to the car before the buckshot and you can go out with her". He would make boys leave $50 deposits that they might get back at the end of the night if I made it home on time and in one piece. He would send small children out to hang on my legs, call me mommy and ask if the new boy was going to be their new daddy (he also made all of us do this to my aunts when we were younger so I guess that one was just karma). After his stroke he even learned how to cock a shotgun with one hand just so he could still meet my dates at the door and say "run boy".
But despite all the embarrassment, I guess I'm actually really grateful that he ran off all of the jerks for me. Aaron was the first guy I think I ever brought home that dad actually didn't threaten and later told me I was crazy if I didn't hold on to this one...and that if I didn't take him, he would. I'm so grateful that dad got to know my husband before he died and that he loved me enough to care about who I spent my life with.