SEARCHING FOR THE
PERFECT IN-LAW

   The garbage disposal stopped working the other day, and the toilet was acting up. And all I could think about was how my daughter had let me down by marrying a surfer who happens to be in sales.
   "Why couldn't she have married a plumber?" I asked my wife. "He could have come right over, fixed everything for free, and we'd all be one big happy family."
  She was on the phone, on hold, trying to get someone at $130 per hour to come by within a week. She waved me off, as she is prone to do.
   "Or an electrician, that would be nice," I continued, thinking of the malfunctioning porch light that had gone unfixed for about two years. "I'd love to have an electrician in the family."
    "You've got three more chances," she finally said, referring to my daughter's three younger siblings. "Hang in there."
   I thought about my new son-in-law, who married my oldest daughter six months ago. He was perfect for her, but what about me? His career choice, sales, didn't bring anything to the family table. I had needs, and he wasn't about to meet them (other than taking over the barbecuing duties at family gatherings, which was nice).
   I'm not greedy. While a plumber or electrician would be wonderful, I'd take an orthopedic surgeon. All those mysterious aches and pains in my knee and shoulder could be examined and discussed at every holiday. No more wasted trips to the doctor, only to be told to ice and rest.
   But so far, I was striking out. My other daughter, who is of marrying age, has had serious boyfriends over the years, all corporate paper pushers. But my wife told me she was dating someone new, so I called her up.
   "What does this guy do?" I cautiously asked. "Any chance he has a practical trade?"
   "Nope," she replied. "He's in finance, and very successful."
   DAMNIT! Plumbers are successful. Electricians are successful. "Finance" meant nothing to me. This was not going well, and I told her so.
   "Check with the boys," she replied, referring to her two younger brothers. "Maybe they'll be able to help you."
   I don't want to sound sexist, but the chance of my heterosexual sons falling in love with a woman plumber or electrician were pretty slim, simply because the pickings were pretty slim. And like it or not, most orthopedic surgeons are male as well. But there was one occupation that, if they were to marry someone in the field, would make all my dreams come true.
   Dermatologist.
   What could be better than to have a dermatologist in the family? Every time that spot occurred, or that rash, or that growth, or that worrisome wart---instead of fretting about it for weeks and then finally making an appointment, only to be told, hopefully, it's nothing to worry about---what if you could just take off your shirt at the family table and get a quick inspection? It doesn't get much better than that.
    "How's it going?" I asked when I called my oldest son, who is living with his girlfriend, whom we adore, even though she's not a dermatologist. "Any chance anyone in your household wants to go to medical school?"
   "Sorry, Pops," he replied, knowing what I was getting at. "She's still in advertising, and happy doing it. You're on your own."
   I was almost out of options. But hope springs eternal, and my youngest son, who is 26, was my best chance. He recently broke up with his long-time girlfriend, who worked in non-profit education, and was hitting the singles market with gusto. The world was his oyster, and there was a female dermatologist out there somewhere who couldn't wait to meet him, fall in love, and inspect his father's skin till death or divorce.
   "How's it going?" I asked when I called. "Met any dermatoligists lately?"
     "Not yet," he replied, knowing my desires. "But I'm working on it."
   "You're not trying hard enough," I whined. "You're my last chance. I've given up on a plumber or electrician or orthopedic surgeon, but you could still snag a dermatologist."
    "Actually, I am dating someone," he slyly offered. "But she's not a dermatologist. She's a ballerina."
    Oh, whoop-de-doo. A ballerina. Garbage disposal still broken, toilet still running, shoulder still sore, rash still spreading. But at least I might get free tickets to "Nutcracker. "
 

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