On Father's Day, I always wish my father was still around so I could call and wish him a happy day. I'm sure he knows I'm thinking of him, but it's not the same as the person being physically around.
Anyway, the reason I thought I'd write this post, was because my dad was as much responsible for my persnickety-ness about appearance as my mom and/or sisters were. In photos of him as a young man, he is slim and quite handsome; in later photos, he is plump with a crewcut, and the way I remember him. (He looked a lot like Drew Carey in the very first incarnation of his show!) He was always well-groomed and nicely dressed, and though he was not an executive or anything, he did have an office job, so wore suits to work every day. I do remember his "cookout" outfit, which just sent my sisters over the edge: tan shorts, a bright orange and white plaid shirt, and matching orange socks, with the kind of sneakers men wore back then. He absolutely loved this outfit, while my sisters were just appalled by it. I think my mother probably had just given up thinking about it.
Anyway, one Saturday when I was probably in 3rd or 4th grade, my mom and sisters were going downtown to do some shopping, and my dad was in charge of me. He told me I could go with him to run some errands, and if I waited for him while he went to an appt at the barber shop, then we could go to lunch. Sounded great to me, plus I would have my father all to myself!
We got to the barber shop, and that's where the shocker happened. I was assuming that he was getting his hair cut (though with a crewcut, it always looked the same to me ...). However, that wasn't the case. No, my father - who was not particularly macho, but was also not anyone I would ever describe as girly - was getting a MANICURE!
Even to this day, I can remember how shocked and surprised I was. For one thing, it just never occurred to me that men would get manicures. And secondly - my father???? I didn't say anything to him, because I didn't want to act surprised, but when I told my mother later, she told me that yes, he got a manicure about every two weeks! I'm guessing that it wasn't overly expensive, since a) we had very little money, and b) it didn't involve nail polish, only shaping and buffing, but it was still one of the big revelations of my life. My mother had gorgeous hands and nails, and always did her own manicure. She was a secretary, and her polish usually got changed not because it had chipped, but because she was tired of the color! (Unlike me, whose manicures - DIY or professionally done - seem to start chipping as soon as I take a breath.)
So as I think of my dad today, I am grateful that he showed me something that was very different for the time. And helped to give me the sense that it does make a difference to be well put together, whether you are wearing designer clothing or hand-me-downs.
Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. Here's hoping they will always have a surprise or two for us.