Monday, October 23, 2006

Today's Moment of Dad..."Why My Father Would Never Be Hired By Vogue"

We're heading into the home stretch of "Moment of Dad", and I just want to say thank you to all that have left comments about these stories.

I don't write them for the comments - I write them for the simple selfish reason that I want to bring him to life again. I am aware that I can't do that in a physical sense, but I want to do so in an emotional way. I feel I owe him that much and much more beyond that. So for those who are missing those vital "sentimental" nerve endings, again, go read "Ziggy". We've got some storytelling to do.

Today, I want to talk more about how a man who never had sisters dealt with three "willful women" in his house.

Mom related a vignette to me once, regarding preferred gender. My Grandma Dawson (who I'm sure had the best intentions) asked her the following question: "Wouldn't you like to have a boy for John?"

Mom didn't know what to say, and Dad said, "I'm happy with whatever God gives us."

Well, I think that (in addition to superior listening skills) God has a sense of humor, and sometimes Dad's words bit him in the ass. Sad, but true.

Don't get me wrong - my dad was a great husband and father. However, you have to admit that the mysteries of womanhood sometimes caught him off guard. Here is one example:


One of Dad's favorite sayings was "There's no prude like a good ol' boy." I can honestly say that he wasn't wrong.

Ruthi and I never went for racy stuff in the first place (I guess that's Mom's influence). We chose clothing that was comfortable and looked nice on us in a normal way (i.e. not slutty). For the most part, I preferred the "preppy/artsy" look, and I think Ruthi did too. We could match colors and make a decent-looking outfit out of the clothes we had.

From my personal experience, I did hear "You're wearing THAT?" from him at least once. That was my junior prom, May of '86.

Mom was an excellent seamstress, and made lots of nice clothes for Ruthi and I through the years. There are three memorable dresses from her "sewing history", and my prom dress was one of them.

The prom dress was floor-length, in a really pretty teal blue color. It had a fitted bodice with a princess waist, and it was...wait for it...OFF THE SHOULDER.

Yep - that's the part Dad had the most trouble with. Even though I couldn't figure out how to properly create "cleavage" yet (I only figured it out in the last few years), the "off the shoulder" thing caused my father great distress.

I really don't get why either, because he saw me wear this dress in the late winter, for an honor choir concert at the U of Iowa. Not a word was said about my exposed shoulders back then. Apparently, he was saving it up for my prom.

I had already gone through enough hell with prom preparation that day. My cousin Vickie decided to play a joke on me; she called to "advise" me that her kids had head lice and one of them used my hairbrush.

My response?


I did model the dress for my grandma and my aunt Pat, and they both made the proper "Oh that's pretty" sounds, so that offset the head lice joke.

Dad's reaction, however, was priceless.

"You're going to wear a turtleneck under that, right?" He was sitting in "his chair", cigarette in hand, camouflage cap on his head, looking me up and down. He was frowning and looking over his glasses at me.

"Uh, NO, " I replied. "I really don't have the urge to look retarded this evening."

"Well, that's entirely too much skin to be showin' around. Mary, did you know about this?" he grumbled.

"Yes, John...I made it for her back in December," Mom sighed, rolling her eyes in exasperation. "You've seen it on her once before."

"Are you SURE I've seen it?"

"Yes, John," Mom replied in her special tone that was usually reserved for those classic moments when he was digging his own grave.

"Well, all right," he muttered. "Do you at least have some mace in case your date tries anything?"

"No, Dad. I couldn't find a can that matched and fit neatly into my cleavage."

He just shook his head and said, "You're just like your mother." Then he was promptly smacked, by Mom. However, he did let me out of the house.

Time passed (as time usually does). My mother made more dresses for me that met with Dad's approval (believe it or not). My wedding dress, however, was the best of them all.

When I married my first husband, I had a candlelight pink dress with a train, fitted bodice, off-the-shoulder with long sleeves, the whole works. Mom did a beautiful job on it.

However, before she actually made it, she took Dad along with her to the fabric store one day.

She found the plain satin fabric with no problem, but she wanted the same color of fabric, only with a pattern woven into it like flowers or something.

Dad, of all people, picked out the contrasting material, and I must admit, he had a good eye for it. It was GORGEOUS...the color matched exactly, and the pattern was just what I wanted. He called Mom over and said, "Look at this, dear. Sudie has to have this, don't you think?"

Mom said, "Yes, but..."

Dad replied, "Let's get it, shall we?"

Mom answered, "Yes, but..."

Dad replied, "Oh come on. Let's live it up a little."

The reason Mom was protesting? He failed to look at the price on the end of the bolt, and when the cashier was ringing up their purchase, he almost had a heart attack.


"Well, John, YOU picked it out," Mother sighed.

Mom said that for the remained of the drive home, Dad shook his head and muttered, "Twenty-five dollars a yard. I can't believe it."

For the most part, though, Dad would tell us when we looked nice. He enjoyed it when all three of us were dressed up, and liked to brag just a smidge about being with three beautiful women.

At least Dad wasn't naive enough to say anything to the contrary. If he were, he'd have permanent dents in his midsection from our elbows.

Tomorrow, more "Dad and three willful women" examples.