WHAT'S WRONG WITH DADDY?

Spring broke, or bust

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As an educator, I feel blessed that I usually have the same spring break as my three daughters, which means we get to spend a week of quality time off together while my wife continues to go to work to support our leisure activities. This year, while scanning Facebook to witness our friends and loved ones on exciting ski trips, vacations to Europe, and jaunts to the beach, we spent the first part of our break in a thrilling competition to see who could sleep the latest and wear the same pair of sweatpants for the most consecutive days. Unfortunately, by Thursday, the girls had figured out my ploy and were starting to complain about bedsores. Wimps! At that point, my wife suggested we all could use a change of scenery (and clothing), so we decided to take a weekend trip to Dallas, Texas, for some shopping, good food, and more sleeping in (I hoped).

Our first stop upon arriving in Big D was for supper at P.F. Chang’s, an upscale (at least for us) Chinese restaurant chain that has great food but, disturbingly, lacks an all-day buffet. We ordered several variations of what appeared to be the same chicken and shrimp costuming themselves with noodles, fried rice, and sauces to make us believe we were actually trying different entrées. Although it was all delicious, I began to suspect that the cooks were former school lunch ladies– experts at turning Monday’s beef chili into Wednesday’s sloppy joes.

After supper, we drove to our accommodations for the weekend, the Westin Galleria, a hotel attached to a three-story shopping mall/parental bankruptcy center. Although the Westin offers valet parking, we decided we’d rather spend our money on Auntie Anne’s Pretzels and Jamba Juice, so we drove around the lot until we found the only empty space available–conveniently located behind a sanitary sewer cover. The odor from the sewer was enhanced by the twenty mph winds blowing that evening, and when my youngest daughter handed me what was left of a milkshake we’d picked up on the way there, a gust somehow caught the cup and tilted it just enough to blow pink shake residue all over our luggage. Ah, the sweet smell of strawberry sewage on a spring evening!

The next day was full of typical parent-daughter shopping mall activities, including my refusing to purchase any clothing items for my daughters that didn’t extend from their foreheads to their lower ankles. One exception was the apparent need to purchase a bra for my middle daughter at Macy’s, which was having a massive brassiere blow-out. As a father, I figured I had a couple of options in this situation: 1) Stand out in the mall concourse alone like some creepy weirdo comparing people to cartoon characters or 2) Wander around in the lingerie section like an even creepier weirdo helping my wife buy the perfect bra for my adolescent daughter. Sensing the opportunity to take a more active parenting role and, at the same time, embarrass my daughter to within an inch of a walleyed hissy fit, I naturally chose option #2.

The first step of my bra-shopping strategy was to use as many nicknames for bras as possible when speaking to my wife and daughter about their selections. (I got an especially strong reaction to “hamster holster.”) After I’d nursed my wounds, I decided to be more helpful by scouting for items in the correct size, bringing them to the dressing room area, and draping them over the door of my daughter’s changing room so that she could try them on and tell me to get lost. Everything was going well until I made my first trip to the dressing room, sent the bra over the top of the door, and then, in sheer horror, heard my wife’s and daughter’s voices a couple of doors down from the occupied room into which I’d just deposited said undergarment. Needless to say, I spent most of the remaining shopping experience standing in the mall concourse trying to avoid mall security and decide which shopper looked the most like Squidward Tentacles.

Despite my bra-buying blunder, we ended up having a great time together. On our way home, we even visited Uncle Julio’s, my favorite Dallas Tex-Mex restaurant, for some fajitas and the famous chocolate piñata–a chocolate shell filled with churros, chocolate empanadas, and other Mexican desserts I can’t pronounce. By the way, I wonder how you say “bra” in Spanish.

– Jason (Jase) Graves is a married father of three daughters, a lifelong resident of East Texas, and an Aggie. He writes about home and family issues from a humorous perspective, and his blog is published at https://susanjase.wordpress.com. Other than writing, his primary hobby is sleeping as late as possible.

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