I am slowly becoming my father, every single day.
Most days, I’m pretty thankful for the qualities this imparts: like, a take no prisoners attitude toward getting things done, a grown man’s work ethic, high standards for work and strict business ethics, I love cats and vinyl, and when I’m not barefoot, I can really clean up nice. I don’t even mind how, when I go to a dermatologist to get a spot looked at, I’m off-handedly suggested cheek implants to correct my puppy dog eyes, negative vector face, and deep smile lines. I get those from him.
When I was reminded of a story the other day, I looked at Rob and didn’t even need to say it: I am so completely my father’s daughter.
I tried skiing once. I had to wear this hand-me-down, hideous, forest green full-body puffed jumper and I burst into tears the minute I stepped out onto the slopes. Everyone else just dug in their poles and pressed on, and I stood there in protest of all that was holy in my small world. My entire day was shot by this stupid, stupid ski suit. F**k skiing since then. Seriously.
I literally cannot rise above being made to wear something stupid I do not agree with. It’s an energy-sucking flaw, but I’m otherwise generally pretty cool, so I’ll embrace it. Ride in my Gran Torino, anyone?
I had a birthday once at our local beach gazebo thing in Florida; maybe my 3rd birthday? 4th? And the shirt my mom put me in wouldn’t completely cover my huge tan bellybutton. I remember, clear as day, hating that entire day because of that stupid shirt. Just yanking at it and grunting like an angry troll.
I could swim underwater holding my breath before I could talk. So, naturally any forced, movement-limiting life jackets over the years turned me into a venomous viper. Heaven forgive the various individuals who strapped me into those things. On a month-long bike trip through New England in middle school, I was forced to affix a tall, orange flag to the back of my bike—I’m still super mad about that. Crotch-strangling tights required for holiday formal dining situations made me go screaming banshee on my mom; I sobbed during turtleneck removal, certain my head would pop off with it; gaping, button-up shirts at day jobs still haunt me; and, horrible-looking dingy sub-zero puffer jackets required for arctic climates hang, shamed in their punishment, in musty closets. They can all eat a ____, y’all.
If everyone would just accept this trait of mine and my father’s, the world would be a happier place. But no. People are always trying to put us in stupid shirts.
[Dad in his own chosen attire: and does his bottom half (belt and jeans) look familiar to this post? Pure coincidence. They're both total foxes, right? Friends, Cami & Chuck Wodehouse.]
I only really hear about these awesome instances now that I’m married, and my in-laws (Rob’s p’s) hang out with my mom and dad more than I do. I think they marvel at his curmudgeonly ways. And in hearing these stories, I laugh first, then—in complete sympathy—grumble in agreement.
Our parents were invited to a costume Halloween party, to which both Burdens managed to dress in adorable outfits, and my mom pulled together a creative get-up. Normal, right? My dad found a witch hat with a wig in a closet and put it on, with his jeans and tucked-in oxford shirt. A generous compromise.
Once, their group of friends attended a Drinking Around the World thing at Epcot down in Orlando. Silly Floridians! I surmised that this entails going from “country” to “country” and sampling the beers, then totally blacking out. But what you wouldn’t assume is it also means wearing a shirt with a nifty globe picture on it that gets marked on for each country you hit. This is serious biz, dudes.
Guess who wouldn’t be caught dead in the globe shirt?
I heard he kept a blue oxford shirt on him at all times, buttoned up to the collar, with the globe bit underneath. At each stop, he’d quickly unbutton the oxford shirt, peel it off, and earn entrance into, say, Germany, for a stein. The minute he got inside, the shirt was back on, buttoned up to the collar. No one else brought cover-ups for their party shirts.
And I know exactly where he was coming from.
We wear our hearts on our sleeves, but we don’t wear stupid shirts.
Aside from band and concert shirts, I’ve never been much of a graphic tee kid, but lately, it’s like the demons of horrible forced wardrobe choices past have been exorcised, and, in my liberation from clothing-related pride, I’m purchasing some really ridiculous tees.
This one not withstanding.
At least I’m who picked it out…. goddamned right.