Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Every year around this time, I take my daughter to the Father/Daughter dance. We went this past Saturday. It is the high point of the Father/Daughter social calendar. Thankfully, it only happens once a year.

It is the only time of the year where you will find me in a suit. It is also the only time of year you will see me wearing a boutonniere. It is also the only time of year my daughter willingly brushes her hair. (This is a biggy.)

We have been going to this same dance since my daughter was in Kindergarten. This is our fourth year. Each time we walk toward the doors to the auditorium, my daughter says she can't wait to dance with me. As we enter the auditorium she disappears along with all the other girls. They run around, eat candy, take pictures and dance with each other like happy little bunnies.

The fathers are always left standing there. We look at each other in our suits and boutonnieres. We are middle aged. Gravity pulls a few of us together in clumps. We chat about how fun it is to be here. We chat about how quality time with our daughters is invaluable. The music is loud so we really can't understand each other. There are uncomfortable silences. We look at the clock. Two hours left.

Sometimes our daughters will run over and say how much fun this dance is. Then they'll run away. I want to grab my daughter and tell her she has to protect me from the man who wants to talk about life insurance. 

A few times throughout the night, our daughters will grab our hands and pull us onto the dance floor for a disco song. We middle aged men will dance and then suddenly find we are alone and that our daughters have scuttled off to take more pictures and eat more candy. We are left to do YMCA by ourselves. Once we realize we're alone and dancing together, we all fake an urgent cell phone call and run away.

A few of the men continue to dance. We avoid them.

This past Saturday, something happened at the dance which scared me. A lot.

All the men were talking with each other when the DJ started playing something from High School Musical. Suddenly all the fathers started to smile and bob their heads back and forth. They started singing. The FATHERS all ran to find their daughters so they could dance. I was chatting with some father about taxes or something when he looked away dreamily and started mouthing the words to the song. It was as if he was an Eloi summoned to the Morlocks dinner table. "Sorry, Paul, " he said dreamily. "I must find Carey-Ann and dance to this. I must. Must dance."

Now. Know this. The Ruggs don't have cable. We took it out years ago. We don't have TIVO. We don't watch that much TV. I have raised my daughter on the classics. MR. ED DVDs. GENE AUTRY B-MOVIE DVDs. SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS. The good stuff.

I didn't want my daughter to feel left out. I started dancing with her. She and I looked around on the dance floor. All the other fathers and daughters had glazed, frozen smiles on their faces. They all knew the same moves. ALL OF THEM. My daughter and I tried to play along for fear that we'd be found out. It was sort of like Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, but slightly more horrifying. 

Once the music ended everyone just sort of stayed in place for a moment and then suddenly jerked as if woken up. A few of the men looked at their watches. Where had the last 5 minutes gone. Where am I?

They all wandered off the dance floor leaving my daughter and I alone to dance to Sinatra.

"I like this song, daddy." 

Good. Stick with me, kid.


  1. Aww, how sweet. I can't picture ever doing something like that with my dad because, A)I don't really remember him being off the couch and B)I was a tomboy who would have refused to dance in that setting.

    Dear Lord! I hadn't realized High School Musical had that effect on the kids and adults! O.O What conspiracy could they be plotting? Other than replacing all of the classic Disney characters from the toy isle to the theme parks..

  2. Linda and I refer to High School Musical as simply "HSFM" -- this after too many times seeing references to it and saying, "Oy, it's High School freakin' Musical again."

    Hooray for not raising a drone. She may face social challenges in the coming years, but let's hope she resists long enough to discover the ultimate truth: Geeks actually have more fun; the drones are just jealous!

    People ask Linda and I if, being in our late 30s, we'll be having kids any time soon. The way we figure it, we already do: I have her; she has me!

  3. I will never have kids. But if I ever did I think I would raise them on the things I grew up with. Looney Tunes, Three Stooges, Abbot and Costello, Maybe even a bit of Marx Brothers. By the time I was done my child would be a well versed and experienced smart a$$ the likes of which none have ever seen. Then I would unleash said child upon their kindergarten teachers. Then we play the waiting game. (steeple hands)

  4. I have raised my daughter on the classics. MR. ED DVDs. GENE AUTRY B-MOVIE DVDs. SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS. The good stuff.

    I can see where the MST3k influence came from. Have you considered making an iRiff? http://www.rifftrax.com/iriffs
    You'd seem like a natural...

  5. Wow, Bryan is right.
    That needs to happen. They already had Weird Al do a riff track for Jurrasic Park, it's Paul's time.

    And Keeper is right too. Besides, with the internet your daughter will never have trouble finding friends with the same interests. Plus she might even introduce other kids to the good stuff.