When I was little, my dad and I were part of a dad/daughter group called “Indian Princesses”. I’m not sure what the organization’s purpose was, but our group was under the impression the goal was for young girls to get into trouble while their dads drank heavily and played cards. It’s the place where I learned that too much of anything will make you barf and peeing on the side of the road is only illegal if you get caught. I’m pretty sure I was supposed to be learning survival skills and how to be a proper young lady, but our entire group was asked to leave a camping event before I learned any of those skills. This may explain why I can’t start a fire or engage in cocktail party chatter today.
Years later I met a man who was taking his daughter on an Indian Princess campout and he stated that alcohol was no longer allowed in the cabins because “a few bad apples ruined it for everyone”. I refrained from telling him that I was one of those bad apples he was referring to. The same year we were asked to leave was the year my dad brought several cases of whipped cream and we covered half the grounds with it while having a massive whipped cream fight. I vaguely remember leaving the event early and heading to someone’s cottage for the rest of the weekend. It was the equivalent of being called out in class and told to go to the principal’s office. Every eye in that mess hall burned our backs as we packed up our RV and headed south. Our exit bypassed the principal’s office and headed straight out the back door with two middle fingers in the air. Years later when I literally did the same in high school, my dad couldn’t really say much. That was a life lesson I got from the Indian Princesses, when the man tells you to shut it down, pack up your party and head to the lake. Here are a few other things I learned while hanging out in the woods with feathers on my head:
- Gambling is fun, especially when you win. The men used to play a game at restaurants called “Queen Bee” where you bet to see who pays the bill. Once someone “wins” and gets stuck with the bill, they have a chance to win back double their money from everyone else. My Dad let me sit in on his turn and I cleaned out every old guy at our table. I walked out of there with my pockets loaded only to leave the general store 10 minutes later with a handful of change. I spent the whole wad buying toys and candy for my fellow princesses. I have been a master liar’s poker player since then (as well as a pretty good liar which is a whole different lesson).
- Driving is a hell of a lot easier when you can see over the steering wheel. Did I mention the dad’s partook in a wee amount of alcohol consumption while on these adventures? Letting the children drive was really the responsible thing to do in that situation. I may have been the youngest driver on the roads in Canada, but I was one of the better drivers nonetheless. In my dad’s defense, I was actually a pretty good driver at a young age since I had been riding a motorcycle since I could stand it up by myself.
- If your stomach hurts, you’ll feel a lot better if you just get it over with and barf. This applies to a lot of things, but I barfed a lot when I was young and I always felt better once all the whipped cream evacuated my body. I’m pretty sure this was also how my dad learned to put a little girl’s hair into a ponytail.
- Doing your own thing is usually a lot more fun than following the crowd. Sometimes that means being asked to leave and that’s okay. Somehow a group of dads and their daughters who had no business joining a group like the Indian Princesses managed to join anyway and have fun for about a year before blowing it all up. The little group of misfits still managed to stick together for several years after making their own adventures that didn’t even require using outdoor bathrooms and identifying poison oak.
- Frog legs really do taste like chicken, and escargot tastes like salt water. Adventuring with my dad always meant I got to eat whatever I wanted and I was always ready to gross out the other 8 year old girls with food choices. This may also have contributed to lesson #3.
- The 80s was the decade of oxymorons. A group whose name was both racist and sexist certainly had a lot of rules about proper behavior. Maybe if the dads were actual Native Americans, their drinking would have been overlooked, or if the girls had been shooting whipped cream rockets at each other while wearing tiaras, it would have been cute. Either way, I’m glad I was raised during that time and I’m even more glad that I can look back on it and laugh.
**Of course I listed to some classic 80s music while I wrote this!!
About a month ago my dad soaked the inside of his car when he left the windows open in the rain. My parents had left the house and when they returned, my dad saw his car window open and immediately thought someone had broken his window. I love that his first reaction was that someone else must have damaged his car, not that he left his own windows down. What is most comical about this is that my dad never has the windows up while driving, so him leaving the windows down while parked is not all that unusual. It can be sweater weather and he has at least the moonroof open. Once he saw the open window, he walked out to his car to find all of his windows down and the moonroof wide open. It had been pouring rain for an hour, so needless to say, his seats were a little waterlogged. I’m not going to lie, that car needed a good detailing anyway.
Since my mom told us this story, my child has double checked the Old Man’s windows every time a cloud passes over. She has asked about the status of his windows at least a dozen times and takes every available opportunity to give him a hard time about it. I understand this though, because the man does not learn. A few weeks after he drenched his car, he left me sitting in the same car while he returned to the house to get something. The windows were all open, including the moonroof and within 10 seconds of him walking away, the rain started to pour in on me. He turned around and laughed instead of throwing the keys back to me. Typical. I am now thoroughly convinced that an actual dark cloud is following him.
One would think that maybe the third time is a charm, but one would be mistaken. Yesterday he picked me up to go retrieve one of the wave runners that was being serviced. Rain was expected, but we went anyway. As we were driving to the dealership I mentioned that I did not have a life jacket and we would need to stop at the lake house to grab one. He proceeded to drive right by our turn off and when I told him he responded “you can swim, right?” I agreed that a life jacket was not really necessary and we continued along, with the clouds following. When we got to the dealership, he immediately got out of the car and took the keys, leaving me sitting with the windows down and no radio. When he returned a few minutes later it had already started to sprinkle. He sat in the car talking to me for a full minute before I could prompt him to close the moonroof. He was just carrying on about the Olympics, while we got a shower until I finally said “you might want to close this….” while sticking my hand through the open roof.
As we headed back to the boat launch, the rain started to come down a little harder, and by the time we got to the dock it was the kind of rain that required an umbrella. I would like to say we turned around and headed to a garage until the rain subsided, but we are no quitters. And we are not all that bright either. I got on the wave runner and started it up right about the time a full on monsoon started. But by that time, there was no turning back. I took off and was halfway around the bend before my dad even left the boat launch, where he probably immediately opened the moon roof. I wanted to make sure everything was in working order but I couldn’t bring myself to drive more than 33 mph since the rain felt like pins going into my face. Although I usually like being the only vehicle on the lake, it was not an ideal time since I was not wearing a life jacket, it felt like pebbles were being thrown at me from the sky and a few neighbors were actually pointing and laughing. I managed to make it back to the dock in about 10 minutes. After getting the wave runner up on the lift, covering it and returning the key to the house, I finally grabbed a towel and headed to the garage as the rain completely stopped. I found my dad holding a leaf blower, cleaning the garage floor before backing in the trailer. Although he didn’t mention I looked like a drowned rat my mom later told me she saw me on the doorbell cam and that was exactly what I looked like. We moved the trailer into the garage and when I jumped back into the car I was shocked to see that all of the windows were actually closed for once, and the only sopping wet thing in the car was me.
**I just noticed I haven’t posted anything in over a month. It’s because I have been listening to new music (new to me at least) like this little gem.
The other day we were talking about teaching my 10 year old to drive the wave runner by herself. She is tall and she always wants to drive, but having her sit in front of someone is difficult since you can’t see around her Amazonian body and Mowgli hair. In the middle of this conversation between me and my dad, my mom stopped us and said “you know it’s illegal for her to drive those alone right?” to which we both stared at her like she was speaking Greek. I quickly said “Only if she gets caught!” And this is where it is clear I am my father’s daughter, and my child is following right down those rebellious misguided footsteps. We all looked at my mom like she was crazy to say out loud that breaking the law was probably not a good idea.
My Dad gave me my first motorcycle ride before I was a year old. Apparently I caught a cold shortly thereafter and my grandma quickly put the blame on the bike so I wasn’t allowed back on until I was 3. I also got my first helmet that year. It was orange and loud and too big. I loved it, and I loved the motorcycle. So much in fact, that by the time I was seven I was demanding to ride alone. My dad made me show him that I could hold it upright unassisted and operate it alone before I was able to take my virgin solo ride. By the time I was ten I was a little terror in the trails down the street and ripping up the baseball field at the elementary school. I was also very clear on the rules which were “if you see a cop, turn off the bike and say you are out of gas and waiting for your dad to come back.” I was then to walk it home with the cops following me. I partook in this parade quite a few times before the police finally told my mom if it happened again they would see that I did not receive a license to drive at 16. I guess I shouldn’t have been all that concerned since I actually drove myself to driver’s education classes in my own car at the age of fifteen, but at the time it scared my mom enough to make my dad sell the bike. Although that was just the beginning of my tendency to push the limits, the lesson I learned was you don’t get in trouble unless you get caught.
This lesson has trickled down to my daughter. Fortunately, she isn’t doing anything she feels the need to hide from me yet, and with my experience in jackassery, she will probably have a hard time doing so. Right now she is still wondering if she is allowed to do things on her own and when she is given a yes by mom or grandpa she follows up with dad or grandma to get the real story. I just keep telling her not to worry. She won’t get caught and if she does, mom will be in trouble which is a pretty familiar place for mom to be. Apparently my kid is totally okay with me paying the price for her misdeeds as well since as soon as I explained I would be in trouble for making her drive, she grabbed the keys and tried to take off on me. Luckily, the wave runner takes a few seconds to start or we may not have seen her again until she ran out of gas. Although, she drives like a grandma, so I probably could have caught up to her with a quick doggy paddle.
I have had a lot of great experiences in my life, party because I was not afraid of much. I have had some bad experiences for the same reason, but that is a whole different story. Little things like laws and rules have rarely deterred me from trying something new and have often times made me learn a new skill, like jumping off a roof with a skateboard or moving through spaces that are too narrow for a cop car to follow. I am hoping that my kid can learn some of these life lessons from my stories rather than having to touch the ot burner herself, but only time will tell. For now, I am grateful that she will take a chance now and then but drive slow enough for her mom to still catch her.
Sometimes my dad buys gifts for my daughter that may or may not actually be for him. I get it, it’s hard not to buy things that you think would be really cool or you remember loving as a kid. I purchased the child fur leg warmers when she was 2 because everyone needs to know what it feels like to be a cat, and they reminded me of the fur coat I wore as a child every time we went to the theater or to a fancy restaurant. But I am losing count of the items my dad has purchased for his granddaughter that he spent more time playing with than she did.
Five years ago the Old Man bought a set of remote control cars so they could race. In theory, this was great, but he neglected the fact that a four year old does not have the dexterity to steer anything with a remote control. It was like watching a dog try to peel an orange, and the results were much the same. The car was thrown and kicked across the driveway more than once. Somehow along the way my mom purchased several more cars which are all on the same radio frequency. The Old Man can drive 4 cars at once while my daughter kicks her one car around the driveway.
In an attempt to help my daughter become better coordinated and athletic, my dad has purchase a baseball mitt, a golf club and a drone. She has reluctantly used all of these things and still remains clumsy as can be. These purchases have improved my dad’s golf game and allowed him an excuse to toss around a ball. The baseball mitt now resides with my dad, the golf club is missing more often than not and the drone didn’t last a full day. Last year he bought her a snowboard which she used exactly twice, most likely because my dad has no ability to get out on the slopes with her. It sat in our family room for a week during the first snowfall in an attempt to pique her interest in the sport to no avail.
This year my dad made yet another purchase that may have been because he could picture himself as a young man using it. He bought my kid a hoverboard. The minute she opened it, all I could think about were the 500 funny videos I have seen of people wiping out. She rode it around the family room and, surprisingly, did not even wobble. Unfortunately, I think this gave the Old Man some unfounded confidence in his ability to stay upright. Within 24 hours he tested his balance, and much like his high school French grade, it was not good. He managed to steer himself around in circles and move backward and forward, which may actually have been attributable to his bow legs more than skill, but he did cover a fair amount of ground on two wheels. But like a novice gymnast, he could not stick the landing during his dismount. He attempted to hop off the hoverboard knowing that keeping one foot on could be disastrous, but he moves slower than he used to and the hoverboard spun around before his feet were off throwing him to the floor. I patted myself on the back for not commenting on the irony of his age and falling on his hip until I knew that he did not actually break any bones. Instead, he cut himself above his eyebrow, which probably actually made him feel like a young man since he suffered the same injury numerous times during his hockey playing days. He immediately tried to get back on the board at which point my mom had to intervene and forbid it.
Luckily, the hoverboard has moved into my daughter’s playroom and stayed there. The Old Man eyes it every time he comes over but he has not made a second attempt to conquer it. My husband, on the other hand has attempted to ride it and wiped out. He was fortunate enough to do so without me seeing or filming it, and without causing any injuries I could poke at. But today my dad asked me if I had fallen off yet and I told him no but I had ridden it successfully. Before he could even think about going for another ride my mom looked at him and said “over my dead body!” Unfortunately, I think he may have taken that as a challenge…
**I wrote this while listening to some music the Old Man likes…
My family has many holiday traditions. Some are fun like watching A Christmas Story 400 times, some are challenging, like baking 800 cookies, and some are straight up worse than a root canal, like going to the mall. My dad insists on this last one every single year. No matter what I do to try to make his shopping easier, he somehow drags me to the mall. The Old Man is not a great gift giver, but he thinks that if he goes to the mall, the world’s greatest gift will somehow find him. I have been playing this game with him for over twenty years and I have yet to see a gift fly out of a store and beat him over the head, but I am hopeful that I will be there if it ever happens.
This year he called me asking “what do you think about those glasses that let you walk down streets in New York City and see the Sistine Chapel?” My first thought was that my mom doesn’t do so well with technology, so virtual reality glasses are about as useful as a unicycle (my dad’s gift to my mom, Christmas 1971). In all fairness, he did know the name of the oculus glasses and told me all about them. At the end of his explanation I said “they are owned by Facebook? No, just no. You may as well ask me to make a purchase at Walmart. Not happening.” My husband also made a very valid argument against such a purchase. He pointed out that my mom fell in a hole without anything on her head obstructing her view. I have to admit, I have watched my mom fall down more times than I can count and have seen her knock things off tables with her purse. We have a running joke in my family about my mom running into things. I can only imagine her trying to navigate a room while thinking she is somewhere else entirely. Unfortunately, my dad had to ask “is this idea up there with the unicycle?” to which I had to inform him yes, it was.
He did have a few other ideas that were actually good, and as it turns out, I could actually order said ideas online while on the phone with him. Unfortunately my dad declined my offer to do so stating that he wanted to touch the items before purchasing them. Apparently his sense of touch is far better than his sense of sight, or judgement for that matter. I searched online until I found a local store to purchase one of the items that was not at the mall, so we drove the 11 miles to the store so my dad could manhandle the gift. After wandering through the store for 20 minutes, we were informed that the item we wished to fondle was only available online. We proceeded to the parking lot where I ordered the gift online on my phone. My dad still claims we purchased the gift at the store to keep his purchasing record clean. I’m fairly certain he believes there is a reward for the effort of shopping in person.
One of the things my mom specifically asked for was a chair. She has a queen anne recliner at their lake house that is just her size. My mom in an average size recliner looks much like Lily Tomlin as Edith Ann, but this small, stiff chair fits her just perfectly. She loves the chair, and asked for another one in a different color, which is kind of a theme for my mom. If one is good, two is better, and you can never have too many chairs. She apparently found one online for $300 and told my dad about it. Unfortunately, she may have been shopping on wish.com because we were unable to find a decent chair for twice that amount at any of the many furniture stores we perused in person (including Macy’s at THE MALL). We eventually found one that I declared too ornate, my dad declared too uncomfortable, and my mom declared too expensive, so it was clearly the perfect chair. It will arrive in 4 months. Happy Easter mom!
I thought I was free and clear after walking through more stores in a few weeks than I have in six months, but I was mistaken. On our way home from what I thought was our final trip my dad declared that he forgot all about her apple pencil. Apparently when he bought my mom her iPad two years ago he also bought her the pencil to go along with it. She tried to use it once and when it didn’t work, she set it aside for two years. My dad decided it would be a good idea to take the pencil back to the apple store at the mall to replace it. When we arrived, we were informed that this was not, in fact, a good idea at all. The security guard who stopped us at the door told us we should go home and take care of it online. I barely contained my smirk as I repeated his instructions like shopping online was a novel idea.
By the time my dad had completed his shopping, every item he purchased was being delivered. This was clearly not going to suffice, so one last trip to the mall was necessary, this time with mini-me to assist. We walked directly to a store with lots of sparkly things where the Old Man immediately pointed at the same thing he bought his wife last year and said “do you think she would like that?” to which I replied “well, she liked it last year…” The child walked him around the store pointing out the items he had already purchased and moved him directly to a display of new merchandise. If only she had been born in the 90s when he bought the same earrings two years in a row and I was too stoned to realize it. We exited the store a half hour later with gifts for my mom, including one from the child that she didn’t even have to pay for, and my kid carrying a brand new fur backpack that she also didn’t pay for (or shoplift). Apparently my father is grooming her to take over my shopping duties by bribing her with free stuff. It took him long enough to get sick of listening to my commentary while fondling mall wares. That man has a high threshold for mockery.
All in all, I think the Old Man did okay this year, as long as all of his purchases arrive on time. I don’t have any faith in the postal service since they have been holding several of my packages hostage in the vortex called “in transit” for a month now. And suddenly I am beginning to see why he likes to do all of his shopping in person. Maybe that old guy is actually onto something.
**After hearing Mariah Carey at the mall and wanting to gouge my eardrums out with a chop stick, I found it necessary to listen to some good old fashioned Christmas songs about sex changes and killing people.**