Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Happy Father’s Day: Little Miss, Young Miss, Old Miss

When the man walked in every woman’s head simultaneously turned to look at him like we were Stepford-Children of the Corn. It’s unusual to see a man in Claire’s. (Oh, you don’t know what Claire’s is? Then you don’t have a pre-pubescent girl in your life. Well, technically I don’t either, but I used to be one and thus never lost my taste for girly-girl accessories on the cheap.) Even male employees are rare at Claire’s. And the ones they do have don’t usually dress in business suits. We women said nothing out loud but I’m sure our Borg collective thought was: “What are you doing here, Sir? Are you lost?”

It turned out that he wasn’t in Claire’s to indulge a latent desire for multi-colored scrunchies and matching eye shadow. This six-foot tall man had his five-year old daughter in tow. Or rather, she had charge of Daddy.  Little Miss – already a savvy shopper – skipped in, picked up a basket, and began selecting the items that she wanted. She was giving Daddy a running commentary on what she was picking and why she had to have it. I’m not sure Daddy understood it all, but he followed her around dutifully and seemed to hang on every incessantly babbled word.

            When Little Miss was finished, she took her basket and headed not for the register, but for the front door. Clearly, she was done and ready to leave. Her father said, “Wait, wait, Sweetheart! We have to pay for that.” Everyone in the store knew that “we” meant “he.” Little Miss didn’t need money. She had Daddy and when you’re five Daddy pays without protest.

            How I wished that moment had been recorded, so that when Little Miss turns 16 and swears that Daddy just doesn’t love or understand her, he can just press “Play” and let the evidence speak for itself. He went to Claire’s for you, Boo. Case dismissed.

            I was at the repair shop waiting for them to finish fixing my car. It was close to five o’clock on a Saturday, almost everyone was gone for the day. It was just me, a mechanic, and the gas guy. An older gentleman rushed in and said, “Are y’all still doing inspections.”

“Sorry,” gas guy said. “Monday.”

Undeterred, the man explained, “My daughter says to me, ‘Daddy, I think there’s something wrong with the sticker on my car.’ I take a look and it expired two months ago! Can you believe that?”

As a matter of fact I can. If the man were a little taller and slimmer, he could’ve been my Dad who has, to my chagrin, done the same thing for me more than once. The gas guy, a father himself, nodded his head in perfect understanding, but there was nothing he could do since the shop was essentially closed.

           I imagine this Daddy returning home and saying, “I’m sorry, Baby. But you can’t drive your car ‘till Monday. You’re inspection is expired and you might get a ticket.” I picture the daughter casually saying, “Oh. That’s okay. ‘Sketchy Thug-Looking Guy Who You Don’t Like’ will pick me up.”  And then suddenly Young Miss is wheeling around town that night in Daddy’s car. You can’t expect her to stay home on a Saturday night can you?

Do you ever out-grow being a Daddy’s Girl? You can try.

The toilet seat was loose. It wasn’t a big deal at first, but it got worse over time and soon I risked being thrown to the floor at a vulnerable moment. And I knew: that’s how the paramedics would find me: head all cracked up against the bathtub, literally ass out. That’s not how I want to be remembered. So I guess you could say it was vanity that led me to pry open the covers hiding the screws that fasten the toilet seat. I wanted to see what type of tool I needed to tighten them down. It looked like a Phillips head screwdriver, but I wanted to make sure so I asked my Dad. I said, “Hey Daddy, my toilet seat is loose. What do I need to tighten those screws, a Phillips head?”

         Now here’s the thing. For some reason, I always say Phillips head when I mean flathead and flathead when I mean Phillips. So, when I said Phillips head to my Dad he gave me the side eye and I said, “I know. I know. Flathead. Flathead.” But it was too late. I could tell that he was already having visions of me using the wrong tool, stripping the screw, and starting a cascading chain of events leading to our planet’s destruction.

            I know what you’re thinking, and no, I did not ask my Dad which tool I should use because I wanted him to fix the toilet seat. I really wanted to do it myself.

            Realizing that I was on the clock now, I quietly dug out my Do It Herself Tool Box. You have to understand: This is a contraband item. Although raised to be self sufficient and reasonably handy, my Dad gets a little nutty when there are tools in the house that are not under his direct and absolute control.

So I broke out my Phillips head – I mean flathead – and tightened the toilet seat screws myself: “Lefty loosey, righty tighty.”  Old Miss here didn’t do too bad a job. It took less than a minute.  I can now sit with confidence, a possible brain injury successfully averted. (This, of course, does nothing to change the mental damage that already exists.)

            A couple of days later my Dad casually said to me, “Hey, nice job on the toilet seat.”

“Thanks. What?” I stared at him and he pretended not to notice. “Daddy! I said. “Did you check to see if I’d fixed my toilet seat correctly?”

            “Yes,” he said. “Yes I did.”

            “Well …. Alright then.” I said. “Hey, the inspection sticker on my car is up to date. Want to take a celebratory trip to Claire’s?
The Urban Erma, the longest running column on, was created and written by Leighann LordListen to the podcast on iTunes and Stitcher RadioWatch the video edition on YouTube.comIf you enjoy The Urban Erma please leave a comment, like it on Facebook, follow on Twitter, and share it with your friends. (Share it with people who are not your friends and maybe they will be.) 

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