Wishing my sons luck in the teen dating game

My twin boys just recently celebrated their 16th birthdays, and though they will get presents and a party soon, the best gift I can bestow on them is this: I wish them luck when it comes to the dating scene and having girlfriends in the next few years.

I hope they have a better time than I did.

My mother used to tell me all the time that I always had girlfriends while growing up, and I always had to correct her. I had friends who just happened to be girls.

Big difference.

For as long as I can remember, I was always looking for a girlfriend, but they weren’t always looking for me. My good friend, John Dibert, used to get mad at me because when we were going through our four-plus years at Penn State, he would joke around and tell me to stop looking for Mrs. Right and instead, look for Mrs. Right Now!

But that wasn’t me. I was a hopeless romantic stuck in a slew of “Animal House”-type movies.

I was the guy the girls wanted to be friends with, and it didn’t help that I didn’t quite have the looks that God blessed my younger brother, Tom, with all his life.

He just happens to be a successful doctor now in Pittsburgh. Great grades in high school, a great athlete and good looking — he was batting 3-for-3, and I was just trying to get in the game.

There were times in high school where girls would come up to me and ask me if he was dating anyone. Of course, then I would say something really, really derogatory about him — and they still wanted to go out with him.

Here’s one of my great memories of growing up. When I was in eighth grade, I had a hairdo that was best described by a classmate at Mount Carmel as reminding her of Charlton Heston. Now, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, of all the guys a teenage boy would want to look like, Ben-Hur was not one of them.

That’s why, starting in 10th grade, I used to get my hair permed twice a year by my cousin, Mickey DeLeo. It did enhance my social life a little bit, but not quite at the Tom Franco level I was looking for.

I was the safe guy the girls in high school wanted to hang out with. But I did learn to use the system to my advantage. I had a chain of movie buddies that I can only name as Sherri, Gigi and Lori. They were all very attractive girls that I was friends with.

I believed that when we went to the movies, other girls would see me out in public with them, think I was a good catch and then hopefully approach me for a date.

It was how I ruled. I calculated all the dating and this was my best bet for a date. Before there were baseball analytics, there were Scott Franco dating analytics. And it was a good deal for the girls. They got a movie, usually a drink and popcorn or candy and I was always a gentleman. They got home safely, and I got maximum dating exposure.

A couple of times I wanted to even fake a breakup in public with some of them, but they never went for that. Hey, it worked for Patrick Dempsey in “Can’t Buy Me Love,” so why not me?

But one of my sons has a girlfriend, and I am told about what a nice young man — and gentleman — he is with her. The other one is still a free agent out on the teenage market.

Every now and then I will ask him about girls that he knows, but he doesn’t like to talk too much to the guy who puts everything out there in a column in the Mirror once a month. Smart kid.

Of course, that movie buddy thing would be expensive nowadays — $12 for a movie. It would be cheaper if he just finds a nice girl, a RedBox outside a store full of new releases and an open invitation from mom and dad Franco to watch at home.

Scott Franco writes a monthly column for the Mirror.