My father, when finding out I had a blog, immediately said, “Oh Lawd, the only thing that I ask is that you don’t write about me like that Rebecca Wells.” (Rebecca Wells, the author of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, grew up in the same town as Daddy, and they went on approximately one date. He enjoys reminding me from time to time that my uncle “Tick-Tock”‘s gas station/country store/restaurant is mentioned in the book. Not entirely sure what’s in the water in Louisiana.)
The Southern ‘Daddy’ is an archetype that has existed ever since the first BWAPE needed money for something or another. They function, not only as occasionally-effective banks, but as chauffeurs, dance partners, stable-grooms, surprisingly effective hair-braiders (“If you can braid a horse’s tail…”), fish de-hookers, and more. While they are not necessarily good for facts, they’re ALWAYS good for opinions. Classic answers to unasked questions include, “No, you cannot just start EATING when you get back to school. You still have to fit into that debutante gown at LEAST two more times” and “Yes, I would like some of those pancakes; don’t mind if I do!” If people say that Southern women are chatty, but they clearly haven’t encountered the Southern father. They are inexplicably loud, with a swagger that makes Kanye West look humble, and an endless supply of time to brag about their children and grandchildren.
My father is, in all of his suffixes, one of the most puzzling men I have ever met. Though having studied at Tulane, Texas, Georgetown and Cambridge, he still talks in the most syrup-laden Southern accent of anyone I know. His resume of pastimes reads like Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World’s — running, swimming, rugby, yacht-sailing, plane-flying, steer-wrestling, spear-fishing, sharp-shooting, pound cake-cooking, daughter-raising…. you name it, he has done it.
Despite many attempts at promoting otherwise, a Daddy is a creature of unbreakable habit. Mine still wakes me up most mornings that I am home by loudly singing the first Buddy Holly track that pops into his mind. For as long as I can remember, he’s worn the same shade of ostrich-skin cowboy boots, and he’ll never pass up the opportunity to wear a sweater vest with his ducks-and-shotgun-shells tie. Despite having horrible knees which are in desperate need of replacement, he is still the a Casanova on the dance floor, better than any man or boy with whom I’ve ever danced, spinning me around and laughing like it’s the best time he’s ever had. We’ve never passed up the opportunity to dance to “My Girl” by the Temptations. He’s never missed his Wednesday night “Prayer Meeting”, the name we’ve given to his weekly poker games out in the country with his fellow good-ole-boys (“I’m praying that I don’t lose too much money this week!”).
No boy will ever be good enough for Daddy’s little girl. Favorite terror tactics of “getting to know” my various beaus have included “‘coon-hunting trips” (5 Southern Men + 3 Dogs + 5 Guns + 1 Unusually Quiet Boyfriend, all at 2AM, in the woods), truck rides and various farm-chores. Of course, I’m never invited. I shudder to think what will happen should I bring my Portuguese boyfriend home.
While, at times, the Southern Daddy can be unbelievably frustrating (“No, Daddy, I already told you SEVENTEEN TIMES that I DO NOT have time to apply for the membership in the DAR”), he’s generally a source of unwavering, patient love. He’ll always think I’m “avant-garde”, and I’ll think he’s antiquated beyond the Age of the Dinosaurs, but, when he finally figures out how to work his new iPhone, he’ll always sign his texts with an “I love you! Daddy”. And that’s just fine with me.