Tuesday night, Scott Brown, the newly elected Republican senator from Massachusetts, made his first political gaffe -- but his wife's and daughters' jaws dropped the most when he did it.
That's because, during his acceptance speech, the "proud" dad announced to the world at large that his daughters, Ayla Brown, 21, a former "American Idol" finalist, and Arianna Brown, 19, were "available."
"Just in case anyone who's watching throughout the country, yes -- they're both available," said Brown. To make matters more excruciating, Arianna, a pre-med student at Syracuse, currently has a boyfriend. Who was on stage with them.
Brown quickly corrected himself, the New York Daily News reports
"No, no. No. Only kidding, only kidding. Only kidding. Only kidding ... Arianna's definitely not available. But Ayla is!"
Pfft. Lesson obviously not learned. In fact, Brown had a previous offense, according to Arianna: Once during a family dinner, she mentioned that their waiter was cute. When the check came, dear old dad did more than the pay bill -- he tried to set them up.
Of course Brown could do a lot more damage if allowed to go on at length -- say, in a filibuster on the Senate floor -- but the issue raises an even thornier question: Should your parents be allowed to intervene in your love life at all?
Because it seems, judging from a quick survey of women of marriageable age we know, the Brown daughters may actually have gotten off easy. In fact, you won't believe what these moms got up to.
Maggie Boardman*, now 28, had "flames shooting out her ears," on the fateful day, two years ago, her mom asked her priest to intervene in her love life.
"The day before my 26th birthday, I found out that one of my exes had gotten engaged," she says. "It was somebody I had always carried a torch for, so I took the news pretty hard. On top of that, I found out when I saw a little red heart appear on my Facebook news feed. It was the perfect storm."
Her mom had always been a fan of her ex, she says, and would ask about him and why it hadn't worked out between them.
A week later they were standing at a gathering when the family's priest asked how Maggie was doing. Only before she could get a word out, her mom jumped in -- telling him about the breakup and how down in the dumps Boardman was now that "she was all alone."
"Can you pray that Maggie will find someone of her own?" she implored.
"I felt like I had been emotionally violated," Boardman said. "Not only did she decide to share my sob story with a priest, she did so without my permission! On top of that, she asked that my love life be put into the hands of God because, apparently, I can't manage on my own."
One positive thing did come of her mom's plea: After Maggie sat her down for a serious talk, her mom learned to keep her hands off her daughter's love life -- even in the face of temptation.
"When the guy ended up calling off the engagement, she didn't go running to our priest asking him to pray that we would end up together," sighs Boardman. "At least not that I know of."
Meanwhile, Julieanne Smolinski
's mom skipped church and went straight to voodoo. "My darling mom asked a clairvoyant in New Orleans if I was going to get a boyfriend ... ever,
" she says. "The lady was vague. I'm pretty sure I have to kill a rooster with my bare hands and put it on the porch of the guy I'm in love with."
Then again, if having blood on your hands as a result of a parent's foul play seems bad, imagine if, one day, eligible guys just started popping up in your inbox.
No, no, we know, not always a bad scene, but get this:
Tia Patel*'s mom took meddling one step further. She went ahead and signed her daughter up for every Indian dating Web site under the Bengali sun. Then, after she'd cribbed a photo and written a profile describing her daughter's likes and dislikes, she actually started corresponding with the men.
It was only when Patel's mom had gotten in over her head that she finally came clean to her daughter:
"She told me she had gotten far enough along with the guys that she could no longer pretend to be me anymore," says Patel, ruefully.
She was incensed by her mom's bad behavior for more reasons than one: The glaring error her mom had made in her fake profile? Forgetting -- or, more likely, willfully ignoring -- the fact that Patel doesn't actually like to date Indian men.
And, of course, as Sen.-elect Brown's shenanigans prove, there are bad dads, too.
But not all parents want to pimp you out.
Mark Seltman, father of Cassie, soon-to-be-18, gives women relationship advice in a professional capacity all the time: He's a palm reader. But with his daughter, and her dating life, his policy is strictly hands-off.
"We've raised Cassie to be a very independent person," he says. Still, Seltman counsels, there may be reasons, in certain cases -- and with certain fathers -- you might want to listen to your dad.
"What I would tell all women is: Make them work! Make them earn everything! Don't give it away, or it won't be valued," says Seltman. Laughing, he adds, "I know that from firsthand experience."
OK, maybe you don't want to think about your dad ever having been, well, a guy. Ever. But your parents are your parents because they've already lived through this phase more or less successfully. They at least found each other, right?
So go ahead -- if they meddle beyond the pale, ground them, take away their computer, use a Taser if you must. But remember, someday things in your quest to find Mr. Right might go all wrong -- and they may have some wisdom to impart.
Agree? Disagree? Already disowned them? We won't sleep until we hear the worst meddling parent stories out there.
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent. And their moms and dads.