A Father’s Day Trap

When I was growing up, my dad and I were very different people.  We still are, I’m happy to say. I say I’m happy about that not because I love that we’re so different, but because I’m pushing 50 and he’s still around. I feel very lucky to have him and that sentiment grows each year as I realize how much he has taught me. But, as I said, we are very different people.

My dad hates pretension. This trait is on full display when I take him to the types of vegetarian or locavore restaurants that I Iove. When we go to a restaurant that offers nitrate-free bacon, he orders extra nitrates on the side.

He will jump down a well-meaning barista’s throat if they ask him if he wants light or dark drip coffee. He just wants coffee. Ask him about the country of origin at your own peril. It gets ugly right quick. He likes hamburger in his tacos. I learned this only because I made the mistake of taking him to Chipotle once and he was decidedly unimpressed. What the hell kind of place doesn’t offer hamburger tacos?

So, imagine a college kid coming home on weekends and in the summers as a vegan. She filled the fridge with fake meat and egg replacer. Now imagine that bright and strong young woman (we all see that I’m talking about me now, right?) also loved wearing t-shirts announcing in large letters what a bright and strong feminist she is. I wouldn’t wear skirts to job interviews and I wouldn’t shy away from telling everyone around me why I was right and they were wrong.

I also refused to wear makeup. It was a tool of the patriarchy and I wanted to prove to the world that I was beautiful without it. I wanted the world to take one look at my unadorned angry face and my slogan-filled t-shirt and know that I was fighting the good fight.

My dad felt that I was beautiful and he told me that a lot but also told me he missed seeing me smile and wished I would throw on a little eyeliner and blush while I was at it.

And we fought. Sometimes they were small fights. Sometimes, they were pretty epic yell-fests. I really felt strongly about things and so did he. But we survived.

This all sets the stage for the unique Glamor Shot above.

During those bumpy college years, he came to the kitchen table one day while I was crunching on nitrate-free veggie bacon.

“I know what I want for Father’s Day,” he said. He was smiling a lot so it made me nervous.

“Okay. What?” I asked.

“A picture of my four girls looking beautiful,” he declared.

“What four girls?” I asked.

I have one sister and one mom. I was no math major but this is one I could handle.

That is when our dog, Sophie, loped happily into the room.

“Oh no,” I said.

He began giggling. “Yep,” he replied with glee. “I want the three of you and the dog. And I want you to go to Glamor Shots at the mall.”

For those unfamiliar with Glamor Shots; it is a chain of photography studios that specializes in making you over and then doing a glamorous photo shoot. This involved many things on my list of hates: malls, corny family pictures, makeup, big hair and wearing clothes that were not t-shirts.

But he had me and he knew it. He knew I loved him so much that I would do whatever he asked of me for Father’s Day. He also knew that I might have said no had it been just my mom, my sister and me in the photo. Throwing in the dog was his genius way of of ensuring I’d say yes because I adored that dog and it would make the picture ironic and quirky enough for me to indulge him. It was a stroke of genius. What some might call a parenting coup.

Here are some tips you can pick up from my dad:

Bide your time

It was Father’s Day. What kind of a monster kid would turn down her dad’s one request on Father’s Day? Plus, the dog spin was nearly Machiavellian in its effectiveness. It took me years to even realize he planned the dog as the perfect bait for me.

Make it fun

My dad didn’t lecture me. Yet he found a fun way to get what he wanted. He had a photo of me smiling and wearing makeup that he could look at whenever he chose. My sister is nearly 12 years younger than I am and we didn’t share many experiences back then. My mom didn’t get to do a lot with the two of us. This was his way of getting us to spend an afternoon together. We laughed hysterically as we went to lunch and then fulfilled my dad’s crazy request.

Not to mention the incredible laughs that this photo brought to friends and family as it sat in a proud place on the mantle of my parents’ house for almost 20 years.

Make a memory

Dad always talked about ‘making memories’ when we were young. Well, dear reader, getting all dolled up by a middle-aged lady at the mall that day so I could get a Glamor Shot done with my mom, sister and dog was definitely a memory.

I’m not sure if I will ever match this frame-worthy parenting coup. The man has set a pretty high bar. Even if I fall short, I am grateful I have this memory that he so cleverly forced me to make so many years ago. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

 

5 thoughts on “A Father’s Day Trap

  1. Stephanie, Happy Father’s Day to your Dad! Thank you for writing in (or on??) your blog! And for sharing your memory of this great family picture! I hope all is continuing to be good and well in your life. Take good care always, Marian

    • Hi Marian, I’m doing well thanks. How are you and yours? My two boys are not little anymore: one is about to enter middle school and one is about to enter high school. I am working PT in the Seattle Preschool Program and loving that. Still write a little bit when I’m inspired. Take care!!

  2. ((Hey Stephanie! I am entering this side note to update you on something that has been in my life for the past 18 months, and just to say one never knows what will be around the corner of life – especially if it is a good thing!! In April of 2018, I found an old friend I had lost touch with! My older son was actually born on his birthday and I remember him coming to see me in the hospital the morning my son was born. Jokingly, I told him “I didn’t know what to get you for your birthday, so I thought I would give birth!!” He laughed, because no one had ever done something like that for him – on his birthday! I was only 23 when I met him at work, and there was this huge ‘CLICK’ when we went for coffee. He had seen me at work and one day walked into my office, reached out to shake my hand, said “I’m _________.” Told me his name, said he worked in physical therapy and would I like to have coffee. We started dating and then a friendship began that was so awesome! This guy and I can literally talk for hours and rarely come up for air! He was (and still is) handsome and genuine and how could I say no? In April 2018, I happened to Google him as I had not talked or seen him in over 20 years. (Yes, I had a very insecure husband who did not understand our friendship.) And then I found him! He was living in Vietnam!!!) I sent him a happy birthday greeting and commented about what he is doing with his life now that he is retired. – Volunteers and works with children in orphanages with disabilities!! This is so my friend! I did not know if he checked his Facebook page, but I pressed send. The next morning I saw there was a response and the message said: “I have thought about you a lot . . . I am here in Seattle for the next month. If you have time to meet for coffee or a meal, I would love to see you.” I think it had actually been 23 years since I had seen him in person. Anyway, we met and have not stopped talking since – LOL! I have my great and wonderful friend back in my life! A year ago he took me to Europe and we went on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje which is in Croatia. What an experience – this had been on my Dream Bucket List – and it changed my life and how I see life so differently now. We were gone for THREE WEEKS – and I had forgotten how well we traveled together. He never married, never met the right girl. He is coming to Seattle the first week of December – what a wonderful surprise to happen in my life! His sister is a sweetheart – always was! My friend’s dad, who of course has passed away, never forgot me. Even toward the end of his life, he would be muttering away to himself and would think of me and say to himself . . . “Awww, the Irish lassie!”. (I had no idea the impression I made on my friend’s family!! LOL! I am going on and on here, but just wanted to update you. Life is good and truly, truly – we never know what is just up around the bend. Take good care, Stephanie! Marian)) PS: Please note I did not include any names – to protect the innocent! ((Smile!)) (And I hope this is okay to post on your great blog!)

    • Oh Marian!!! I am so happy to read this and so happy for you and your friend! What an amazing story and a wonderful turn of events for both of you. I am sorry it took me so long to reply but I am here and I am grateful you reached out to share. I loved hearing the update. I hope your boys are well too. You are so sweet and I will remember your words and remember that we just never know what’s around the corner, right? Thanks for the reminder. Blessings to you and yours. Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas! – Steph

      • Ohhhhhh, so good to hear from you, Stephanie! I was delighted to share my story with you!! Yes, my dearest friend is arriving in Seattle perhaps for a couple weeks next week, so it will be great! We are going on a road trip, probably Leavenworth and then he said something about Anacortes. I feel so grown up! I hope your lovely family is well and your 2 boys are growing like weeds! I wish you a wonderful Christmas, and all the blessings in the world!

        Marian

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