Monday, May 23, 2011
Fathers, Daughters, & Disco Sticks
Today's guest blogger is Ted Ten Eyck. He's extraordinarily funny, even more so when you meet him in person. If you enjoy his wry humor you'll love his take on therapy, as well as his feelings about picking zits. Don't read the zit one if you're eating.
When my wife finished watching the coverage of the recent royal wedding, she confessed the following to me: “I’m glad you’re not a prince, because I don’t think I would make for a very good princess.” Having learned a thing or two over the past twelve years of marriage, I knew I had to respond carefully: “Don’t be silly. Of course you would be a good princess.” My wife appreciated my lame attempt to sound supportive. But she went on to explain why she felt she would be a less-than-exemplary princess: “I probably would have just flipped off all of those spectators at my wedding.” Oh. Well in that case, you definitely are not good princess material.
My wife can breathe a sigh of relief because I certainly am not prince-like material. Luckily, I don’t want to be a prince. Hell, I don’t even want to be Prince. (But that is mainly because he is a full sixteen inches shorter than I.) Even though my wife knows she wouldn’t be a good princess, I am sure that doesn’t stop her from still having a desire to be a princess. Because, as far as I am aware, most people born with lady-parts have some yearning at some time in their life to be a princess. (Don’t worry; I make sweeping, stereotypical comments about men later on.) This desire is reinforced with weddings and proms and, as I discovered last year, the beloved Father-Daughter dance.
My understanding is that the dance has its origin in basically forcing fathers to spend time together with their precious daughters. Fatherhood was very different “back in the day.” It was, after all, a time when it was socially acceptable for the likes of Don Draper to get drunk at a bar while his wife was in labor. An awful lot has changed regarding the role of fathers since then. Today, for example, men are expected to not only be (1) present and (2) sober for the birth of their child, but to also (3) pretend that their wife did not just have a bowel movement on the birthing table while awaiting Junior’s arrival into the world. Yet despite all of these changes, year after year, the Father-Daughter dance keeps on happening.
And this is a really special night for the girls. The girls are typically wearing a new dress...and new shoes...and new jewelry. Some go to the hair salon on the day of the big event; some go for a manicure and pedicure. They get flowers from their father. And the girls are absolutely beautiful. They look like little princesses.
Unfortunately, these little princesses don’t have a proper audience who can fully appreciate just how beautiful they look. I paid close attention this year, and discovered that the girls themselves really don’t care what one another look like. As long as they tamed their bed-head and are not still wearing the same Justin Bieber t-shirt they had on at school earlier that day, all is apparently good. And the only other people in attendance at the Father-Daughter dance are, appropriately enough, fathers. The fathers will make a big deal about their daughter’s appearance. They will even throw in a perfunctory, “You look beautiful!” However, all fathers really care about is making sure their daughter is never, ever wearing sweatpants that proudly proclaim “JUICY” across the ass.
So, the only people who will truly appreciate all of these efforts are the only people who will not actually be attending the dance. Yes—the mothers. The same ones who bought the dress and the shoes and dealt with their daughter’s tears because the hair stylist made her hair too curly. So the mothers latch onto what they can; namely, posting the pictures on Facebook for all of the other mothers to appreciate.
Despite the fact that my wife was already sharing her photos with all 252 of her Facebook friends before my daughter and I even entered the event, we still got suckered into paying for the professional pictures at the dance. And then we had to walk past the refreshment table, and another table where they were selling glow sticks. (I refused to buy one just on principle; I don’t need to give my daughter practice for what she might experience when she finally gets to go to her first rave.) Then it is finally time to enter the ballroom (a.k.a. high school cafeteria) where the magic happens. And I have learned from experience that the night will only play out one of two ways: the first scenario happened to me last year, where my then six-year-old daughter clung to me the entire night because she was overwhelmed and over stimulated with the chaos of the event. The second option is what happened this year: we walked in and my precious offspring dropped me like a hot potato. “Dad, I’m gonna go dance with my friends!” Fine by me. At the age of 41, I am pretty sure that I have more than met my lifetime quota of having to dance to “Y.M.C.A.”
That means that I am then on my own to mingle with the other fathers who were also ditched by their dates. So what is created as a result is a cafeteria full of men left to make small talk with other men. And everyone knows that striking-up conversation is not a strong point of people born with dangly-parts. That is why men prefer to get together with a planned activity in mind to give them something to talk about; activities such as playing poker or watching a stripper. So, if the organizers of the Father-Daughter dance really wanted to raise some serious money for the school, they would do more than just sell soda and candy bars; they should offer a full cash bar. Not only would the alcohol provide the much-needed social lubrication, but the sales would bring in enough money for the school to most likely build a new wing. (I can hear it now: “Today’s assembly on scoliosis will be held in the Anheiser-Busch Multi-Purpose Room.”)
Although I have been tempted to bring my own flask to the dance, I have so far used my better judgment. So I have to resort to using my patented conversation starters that are specific to the Father-Daughter dance. Let me give you a few examples:
“Hey, Bob? Doesn’t it seem odd that the kindergarteners are all dancing to Katy Perry going on and on about losing one’s virginity?”
“Am I the only one here who finds it creepy that our seven-year-old daughters are chanting ‘Boys wanna touch my junk’ along with Ke$ha?”
“Good to see you. Nothing like Lady Gaga proclaiming that she ‘wants to take a ride on your disco stick’ to build lasting memories for girls and their dads, eh?”
I really, really wish I was joking about these particular songs being played at the dance. But believe you me, these are the selections. Luckily, the songs that are played for the slow dances are surprisingly free of sexual innuendos. So, I have nothing to carp about regarding what we are dancing to; I do, however, have some things to say about how the dancing actually happens. Some pairings opt for the isn’t-that-cute daughter-standing-on-Dad’s-shoes move. Let me tell you from experience that that is enjoyable for the fathers for approximately seven seconds. Then there is the traditional option where even though the two dancing parties are holding hands, there is enough distance between said parties as to not catch cooties. (I wish that this image did not conjure up for me so many memories of dancing this way with uninterested partners during junior-high mixers while Journey’s “Open Arms” played in the background.)
If I had been cooler in middle-school (or in high school, or in college...), I would have had the chance to dance really close with a girl, with our bodies pressed up against one another and the girl’s head resting on my shoulder. Surprisingly, this is the move that many Father-Daughter pairings resort to. Unfortunately, because of the massive height difference between most adult males and their elementary-school-aged daughters, the girl’s head inevitably ends up resting on her father’s lower abdomen. And that is a sight that you will never see, rightfully so, in any of those Disney princess movies.
So, I can bitch and moan all that I want, but it doesn’t matter. And that is because the Father-Daughter dance is not about me. It’s about my daughter, the princess. And my princess has a magical time at said event, because she feels special on that night. And hopefully later in her life she will find someone who can make her feel that special each and every day. In the meantime, she is stuck with me, her father, who is still closest at being prince-like only when I play the soundtrack to “Purple Rain” on the drive home from the Father-Daughter dance.