How I Met Your Father
In order for tall tales and fairytales to be entertaining, they have to have one foot planted in the reality of their audience. Gregg’s story of the best man and the father of the bride getting together at a good friend’s nuptials rang as a farfetched urban legend rather than a happily ever after fairytale romance to me.
Former boy band singer Justin Hayes is so attracted to the older man sitting next to him on the plane to the island wedding of his former band mate that Justin has sex with the man in the airport bathroom after they land.
Imagine Justin’s surprise when the older man turns out to be Dr. Jack Basinger, the father of the bride. I guess I was supposed to laugh at the coincidence of it all, but at this point, I hadn’t found any humor in the situation.
But I digress. Justin tries to distance himself from Jack during the rowdy prenuptial parties on the beach when the band is coerced into taking the stand and performing, all the while protesting that the footage never be shown on the Internet. But Justin and Jack are drawn together, and end up in a compromising position being filmed by Jack’s son.
Readers have to buy into how cute and silly the situation is that these two men are caught in to enjoy the novella. But I didn’t for a number of reasons.
Justin, now living in Chicago, is supposed to be the level-headed one of the group, the guy who’s kept the band members afloat financially all these years. But blow jobs in airport family bathrooms, which is termed uncharacteristic for him, and crushing on older men, also uncharacteristic, don’t go a long way to prove he’s the dependable guy he’s supposed to be.
Jack and his family also seemed strange to me. His daughter only invited him to the wedding at the last minute. Where the mother is is never explained. But Jack is supposed to be a respected Chicago doctor. Just saying that doesn’t make him one to my mind. So Jack remains a cypher in the story.
Then there is the happy couple made up of a former boy band member now college music instructor and a student from one of his classes. Neither is given much personality, yet they are the focal point of the gathering.
So why isn’t this mishmash an abject failure? Gregg’s writing style saves the day. It’s readable and glib and as perky as all the boy band songs of the 1990s. It’s easy to read along and not notice that Justin and Jack aren’t particularly likeable or that Jack’s family is as much a mess as he is.
The end result, however, is that it’s easy to gloss over problems for the short run, but when it comes time to evaluate, while the time passed quickly enough, the substance is missing.
However, this is why I wanted to read the novella: “20% of all proceeds from this title are donated to the Ali Forney Center in New York, whose mission ‘is to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) youth from the harm of homelessness, and to support them in becoming safe and independent as they move from adolescence to adulthood.’ To learn more about this charity or to donate directly, please visit aliforneycenter.org.”