Fact Check

Groom Test

'Dear Abby' letter details an unusual posed to a young man by his fiancée's parents.

Published Oct 27, 2002

Claim:   'Dear Abby' letter details unusual test posed to young man by his fiancée's parents.


Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2002]

Dear Abby:

I have been engaged for almost a year. I am to be married next month. My fiancee's mother is not only very attractive but really great and understanding. She is putting the entire wedding together and invited me to her place to go over the invitation list because it had grown a bit beyond what we had expected it to be.

When I got to her place we reviewed the list and trimmed it down to just under a hundred . . . then she floored me. She said that in a month I would be a married man and that before that happened, she wanted to have sex with me. Then she just stood up and walked to her bedroom and on her way said that I knew where the front door was if I wanted to leave. I stood there for about five minutes and finally decided that I knew exactly how to deal with this situation. I headed straight out the front door . . .

There, leaning against my car was her husband, my father-in-law to be. He was smiling. He explained that they just wanted to be sure I was a good kid and would be true to their little girl. I shook his hand and he congratulated me on passing their little test.

Abby, should I tell my fiancee what her parents did, and that I thought their "little test" was asinine and insulting to my character? Or should I keep the whole thing to myself including the fact that the reason I was walking out to my car was to get a condom?


Confused in Carlstadt


Origins:   This bit of salacious humor began appearing in our inbox in mid-October 2002, and although it's offered as real-life experience described in a letter to advice columnist "Dear Abby," no such missive was ever published in any of Abby's

I'm shocked, shocked . . .

columns. (Astute readers should have been left to wonder why, if this were a real entreaty to that font of advice, her response wasn't included.)

The letter is a variant of the classic "shocking admission letter" genre which provides its humor through the sly twist at the end: after sending the reader in one direction ("Should I tell my fiancée what her parents put me through?"), it finishes on an entirely different note ("Should I mention to anyone I was about to take Mom up on her offer?").

A similar misdirection device is employed in another form of this type of joke which presents series of scandalous revelations about the advice-seeker's less than savory family before finally asking whether the object of his desire should be informed about a foible that might prove to be a deal-breaker, with the humorous catch being that what he considers to be the most shameful facet of his family's background is actually the most mundane item mentioned. This version, for example, dates from just after World War II and references politics, rather than sex, as its focus of supposedly shameful scandal:

One of those radio quacks who play God for a couple of thousand dollars a week to poor saps in distress received this letter from a worried admirer:

"I have been a soldier in the Pacific. My mother has epilepsy, and my father's nose and ears have fallen off, so you see they can't work. My two sisters are the sole support of the family. They are fast girls in Birmingham. My only brother is in the pen for murder and rape. I have two cousins who are Republicans. I am from the South and now that I'm out of uniform I naturally want to go back home to live.

"Mr. X., my problem is this: I am in love with a striptease artist in a town near ours and I want to ask her to be my wife. Dare I tell her about my two no-good Republican cousins?"

Barbara "secret squirrel'd" Mikkelson

Last updated:   27 April 2014


    Cerf, Bennett.   Anything for a Laugh.

    New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1946   (p. 138).

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