Being the Dad

It’s my dad’s birthday. In honor of him, here is a post.

I’ve heard a lot of girls talk about what it’s like to be the Mom of their friend group: the dependable one, who people can turn to for care or comfort, who will sew your buttons back on and make you a hearty stew, who will dish out practical and sympathetic wisdom to help you overcome your obstacles.

I’ve never heard anyone refer to being the Dad of their group, especially a group of mostly females, but after giving it careful consideration over the years, I know that I’m definitely the Dad. Or the uncle who walks around in his undershirt and overstays his welcome on holidays. It’s a toss-up. Either way, take that, gender roles!

Here is the following evidence that I am your Dad:

  1. If you cry in front of me, I will feel very, very bad about it and will most certainly want it to stop, but I will have no idea what to do. I will naturally respond with an inappropriate joke or an unhelpful comment. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked to leave the room while someone else comforted the crier.
  2. If someone has a question about their math homework or what they can and can’t put in the microwave, they come to me. If they have a question about shoes, they go to literally anyone else. Seriously, ask the bum behind the supermarket. Or your drug dealer. They will know better.
  3. I love puns. Bad ones.
  4. If you’re sick, I will take care of you, but the back of mind will always be telling you to suck it up and get back to work.
  5. I don’t like dressing up, have used the term, “kids these days,” and am generally always wondering what all the fuss is about.
  6. I’m very willing to spend my money on other people but when I’m shopping for myself, I am known to utter, “$10? They must be mad!”
  7. I love everything about BBQs. Fourth of July is my favorite holiday.
  8. I probably can’t name more than five songs written in the last five years.
  9. I get really excited about practical or silly gifts. I do not get excited by brand names, cosmetics, or handbags (because I’ve probably never heard of them, I don’t know how to put makeup on, and I don’t like having a bag weighing me down incase I have to run from ne’er-do-wells).
  10. I don’t have great maternal instincts. I’m honestly a little afraid of babies. Why would you put a whole human life in my hands? Have you seen my resume? I’m not even remotely qualified for that. Why can’t we arrange it like when you buy a dog and it’s already weened and has had its shots and won’t die if you go take a bathroom break?
  11. You could call me from jail and I would pick you up, no questions asked, but you would probably feel the weight of my disappointment in the silence of the car ride home.
  12. The only sound advice I am even kind of prepared to offer is career advice.
  13. Out of all of your friends, you will probably be the most embarrassed by me.

Luke, I am your fatherrrrrrrrr.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll be different once a little me comes along, should I ever decide to reproduce. There are plenty of things about me that aren’t dad-like. For starters, I refuse to be productive on weekends and I’m half-convinced the lawn mower wants to eat me. I blame that scene from The Happening. But regardless, if you’re looking for a shoulder to cry on, you’ll probably find mine too boney, if you’re looking for a hug, we’ll have to make it quick, if you’re looking for a babysitter, you probably wouldn’t even think to ask me.

If you’re looking for someone to drink beers in silence with, you know where to find me.

P-A-R-T-WHYYYY?!?!

I do not like going to parties.

I’m not necessarily talking about parties where all of my friends will be present because, even though I will inevitably be awkward and say something offensive and spend the rest of the night in the corner chewing on my own foot, they are used to it and they are also used to my dancing. Thus a good time can be had by all.

I’m talking about every other kind of party.

Like a work party or a “networking” event. These are terrible because I will have to wear my least favorite combination: hosiery and heels. And I go there with the full-on intention of making valuable professional connections, and I really just end up being the lurker. Ya know, the person who stands on the outskirts of the event, pretending to answer very important emails? That’s me. The person who walks crookedly because their hosiery is bunching and because people are not meant to be pretend to be taller by jamming a rod into their heel. That can’t be good for you. Some sympathetic soul will come up to me and ask me questions about myself. I will answer speedily and thus slur my speech and they will think I am drunk even though I’m too nervous to drink. And then I’ll ask them questions while staring at them with unblinking eyes because the words “eye contact is important” are pulling my lids open from inside my brain. And after about 45 minutes, I will Irish goodbye on out of there, and frantically search for the nearest appropriate place to remove my shoes and pantyhose, connect to the internet, and pour the largest glass of wine known to mankind. Parties like these really make me long for the days when your only career options were farmer, merchant, teacher, doctor, and lawyer (and for women…teacher…until you were married. And there was no Seamless on the prairie. I suppose everything has its pros and cons).

Or the kind of party where everyone is sort of a casual acquaintance. These are the parties I always end up being early to. Even if I make a point to leave 15 minutes late to avoid earliness, I will still be the first one to arrive. I will make unpleasant small talk and help put out chip bowls. Then I will sit and swing my legs back and forth with my lips in my mouth, like a toddler waiting for their mommy to come pick them up. I wish my mom would come to parties with me. She’d probably talk to me, at any rate. That’s the main issue with acquaintance-only parties. Once the guests start to pile in, I have to scout the room for the least-threatening group to follow around and cling to for the rest of the night (and by the rest of the night, I mean about 45 minutes, before I Irish goodbye on out of there as well). The trick is that, once they inevitably excuse themselves from our conversation, I go and find the bathroom. Hopefully, there is a line. I wait there, go in, and check out my phone for a bit, counting the minutes until we are entering poop territory, then leave the bathroom, and find the least-threatening group again. The cycle continues.

It is very important not to be the lurker at these kinds of parties, because a booty-sniper in a button-down shirt will sniff out your vulnerability, and he will find the aloofness of your booty alluring and will welcome the challenge.

The kind of party where you know the host really well and everyone else is a casual acquaintance isn’t so bad. Then you can assume the position of chip-bowl filler all night. I love having a task. I will be ON TOP of that shit. No empty chip bowls on my watch! When you know the host, you can tack on as the unofficial co-host and just keep everything in line for the night, which is my comfort zone. Things in lines. Unless I’m in a line for food or services. That’s nerve-wracking. Also, if you know the host, it’s not weird to mix drinks for people. Believe it or not, I was a bartender for awhile (being the awkward bartender will certainly produce a post someday). And while I was terrible with customers (seriously, the stories are coming), I was awesome at mixing drinks, because mixing drinks is very formulaic and concrete stuff is what I’m good at. I have made many-a-friends for the night by being able to make a good margarita. So the lesson here is, if you’re uncomfortable socially, buy a bartender manual and study up. Everyone likes the margarita engineer.

Of course, if you are the co-host, you kind of have to stay until the end of the night, which makes it really hard to Irish goodbye. Does anyone else get a really weird high from Irish goodbye-ing? I don’t know what it is. I guess because I’m too nervous to do drugs or steal stuff, I have to be rude in order to get a fix.

I unintentionally worked in an Irish theme for St. Patrick’s Day! Funny how sometimes our art surprises us.

How Can You Tell if a Guy Wants to Hang Out?

No, really, I’m asking.

This has always baffled me.

Maybe it has to do with the rise of texting technology. Don’t get me wrong. I love texting. Never call me again, please. With texting, I can ponder and plan out dialogue thoroughly and possibly come across as witty and charming (note very literal use of the word “possibly”). Texting is like scripting my life.

But everything has its downsides. Like many people, I sometimes have a hard time understanding if someone, particularly someone I don’t know well, is kidding through text. Add that to the fact that I already don’t pick up on subtle social cues and things get messy.

So, as these scenarios go, let’s say I am part of a budding romance (because metaphors about asexual reproduction are probably best here). We’ve hung out a few times, we’re talking a lot, it’s going well. So we’re texting, we’re smiling, texting, and lol’ing. My repartee is at an all-star level.

And then suddenly, I get something along these lines.

“You should totally come over right now.”

“You know what would be funny? If you came over.”

“I kinda miss you.”

“Why aren’t you here?”

“I wanna kiss you.”

So I put down my phone and study my surroundings. Obviously, I am doing nothing of importance. Unless you count semi-watching an episode of a TV show you’ve seen 18 times while you eat pretzels in your underwear. The only thing noteworthy thing I’m doing is talking to you…and I could easily be doing that still if we were to hone in on your suggestion and maximize it to our greatest benefit. But are you being serious? Or are you humoring me while you’ve actually got your arm around your wife? Ah, there’s the rub.

I never know how to respond to this. I have gotten it wrong on multiple occasions.

Case 1: He is actually joking.

I say, “I’m actually free right now.”

And he responds with, “Ooohhh. Yeahhhhh. I was sort of kidding.”

And then it’s awkward. What the heck do you say to that?
“Haha yeah, me too. JK. I’m really busy right now. That’s why I am responding to you so quickly. Because I’m really busy.”

Dr. Jillian will still do everything she can but unfortunately, the conversation is…terminal.

Case 2: He is not joking.

I say something along the lines of, “That would be nice.”

And, instead of him actually telling me to come over because God forbid I attract a rational human being, he just basks in the coming-over fantasy. Like, “You could help me finish this pizza.” And I say, “Mmmmm, is it meatball?” This is how I sext.

This conversation has the opposite problem. This conversation has achieved immortality.

And so we continue to discuss all the different things we could do if I went over. They are all nice and totally feasible. Then, one of two things will happen. Either we will get into 2am territory and suddenly he’ll send a terse, “Are you coming over or what?” Whoooaaa, where did that come from? No, I will not be. Nothing good can come of 2am.

Or we will continue our pleasant conversation about everything that could have absolutely happened if he had just extended an invitation and then I’ll wake up to a, “Why didn’t you come over last night?” With a sad emoji face.

Come…on…

I ask you, readers, how, HOW, are we supposed to know the difference between the two? Are there signs? Is this just one of the many dating things I’ll never understand?

I’m really happy with my boyfriend for many reasons. And one of them is that I don’t have to deal with this shit. We can happily text each other knowing, “These plans are your plans, these plans are my plans, from family parties to making baked clams, and if I ask you to come on over, these plans were made for you and me.”