Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Man in a Tree with a Tutu on...

This was a writing assignment I had a few years ago. I posted it to my other blog, but I'm going to be shutting it down soon and didn't want to lose this.
The writing prompt was: A man in a tree with a tutu on. :)

May 7, 2009 at 5:09pm

“Dad! Get out of the tree you’re embarrassing me!” Sheila covered her eyes; the sight of her dad’s hairy legs under her tutu was just too much.

“Dad! Really, you made your point! Get down!”

Sheila’s dad just kept laughing and waving as the neighbors drove home from work and the kids next door made catcalls. He was enjoying himself and the look of distress on his daughter’s face was priceless.

“You sure you want me to come down?”

“DAD! Enough, I get the point.” Still covering her eyes Sheila pointed in the direction of the ladder resting against the tree trunk.

“Now please come down before Matthew comes over. I don’t want to have to explain to him why my dad is in a tree wearing my tutu.”

Sheila’s dad just kept laughing but decided he’d made his point. While climbing down he made a big production of keeping himself modest and giggling like a girl when he nearly slipped off the ladder.

“Well, I’ve a new respect for you girls and your outfits. It’s hard to move in this thing, let alone dance.”

Sheila said nothing, just waited for the sound of the ladder to stop moving so she could look at her dad and continue her earlier argument with him.

“Dad, what is this about? You know you’ve just stretched my tutu out of shape and I’ll have to buy a new one… correction, you’ll have to buy a new one.”

He continued to laugh, not taking anything seriously, which only fueled Sheila’s anger. “DAD!”

“Sorry honey, I just wanted to make a point that’s all.”

“What point? That you’ll do anything to embarrassment me.” At that moment the elderly lady from next door came out to get her mail. Both Sheila and her dad knew she’d be calling the church elders the moment the front door was shut. Sheila’s dad had to chuckle over that phone call.

“Of course not Sheila, but it is a bonus.” He waved at yet another neighbor pulling in to their driveway.

“DAD, stop it!” Sheila whispered in desperation, “Let’s go inside.”

“No need, we can finish up here.” Sheila’s dad sat on the porch steps, legs spread wide open and she noticed his purple underwear.

“Oh God dad, purple underwear? That’s just too much. How will I ever get that image out of my head?”

“Don’t tell me tell your mom. I hate these things, but she thinks they look better than the whitie-tighties.”

“You did not just say that? UGH!” Sheila fell down on the porch swing. How could she have a serious conversation with a man in a tutu and purple underwear?

“Can you please explain what this is about dad? Matthew will be here any minute and I have no idea how I will explain this to him.”

“Isn’t it obvious? I wasn’t going for complicated here; just thought I’d prove a point.”

“Which is?” Sheila was still trying to envision the conversation she’d be having with Matthew any minute now.

“That you are just as important to me as your brothers, if not more important to be honest.” He gave her a sideways look at the last statement and waited for her reaction. She didn’t surprise him.

“More important, whatever!” She rolled her eyes and looked away.

“What do you mean ‘whatever’? Have I said or done something over the years to make you doubt how important you are to me?” Sheila’s dad said this with more emotion then she was used to. Was he serious? Did she really just hurt his feelings?

“Well dad, you go to all the boy’s games. You practice with them every night and you brag about every touchdown, goal or point they make. You’ve never once said a thing about my dance recitals or the trophies I’ve brought home. I’m better then both of them when it comes to sports but you refuse to take notice.” Sheila was so mad after the declaration that her face was red and she was shaking.

“What! Do you honest believe that? Do you really think I don’t take notice when you bring home a new award or when an instructor calls to tell us she’d like to advance you sooner than expected?” At this point Sheila’s dad turns towards her and tries to get her to look him in the eyes.

“Have I really made you feel less than your brothers?” Sheila tried to avoid eye contact, but the porch was small and she really wanted to know how he felt.

“Yes dad, you have.” She only looked up for a second, but in that short span she saw hurt in his eyes.

“Oh Sheila, I’m so sorry, I had no idea.” Sheila’s dad stood up and walked over to the porch swing, sat down and put his arm around her back.

“I thought you knew how important you were to me.”

“How dad, you never go to my dances, you never talk to me like you do the boys. When’s the last time you offered to take me with you to the hardware store or on a bike ride?” She took a shallow breath in hopes of keeping the tears from coming, but Sheila never could control her tears.

“Great now I’m going to cry, just one more reason to run off to the boys.” She wiped at her tears with a fist and was about to stand up when her dad pressed his arm into her shoulders stopping her.

“No you don’t. This conversation isn’t over. I think it’s time I explained a few things. And you’ll sit here and listen, is that understood?” It was more of a demand then a question, but he allowed her time to nod her head and settle back down.

“Let’s get a few things straight. The day I found out your mother was having a girl I was in tears, but not because you weren’t a boy, but because I was so excited about seeing a smaller version of your mom. She means the world to me and the idea of getting the chance to watch her grow up, even if only half of her was in you, it was enough to satisfy a longing I had in me. Here was my chance to see how a girl turns into a women and I wanted to be a part of it.” At this Sheila stopped looking at her feet and slowly turned towards her dad.

“But why do you stay so distant?”

“Distant? Do you call staying up till midnight distant? I’ve never been able to fall asleep till you settle into bed. Forget just coming home. I wait on the couch till you finish getting ready for bed and settle in for the night before I can even think about laying down myself. The thought that you might need to talk about something and I’m not around makes me sick. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard your door open up in the middle of the night and I’ve wondered if that was the night you needed me to talk to and I had gone to bed too early.” He lowered his head and Sheila could see moister forming in his eyes. Was dad crying?

“I remember watching you sleep at night, it didn’t matter if you were a few weeks old or a few weeks ago…” Sheila interrupted, “You watch me sleep?” She tried to sound upset but some unexplainable emotion was warming her insides.

“Yes, I watch all 3 of you sleep at night.” He chuckled under his breath, “I shake your brothers awake because they snore so loud and I kiss your forehead to make sure you’re still breathing. I’ve done that every night since the day you were born."

Sheila couldn’t help but smile and tear up. “Really?”

“Yes, really. I still wake up in sweats worrying that someone has taken you away. Or worse, you’ve run away with some hairy legged boy who has no idea what a gift you are.” He used the rough pad of his thumb to wipe away a tear.

“I see these boys come and pick you up on dates and I want to slam the door shut the moment they ask if you’re ready. How on earth will I ever give you away at some alter? How could I stand to know that some other man will be responsible for you? He can’t possible know what a prize you are!” At this stage he was no longer trying to catch his tears; they freely flowed from his eyes.

Sheila had never loved her dad more than at that moment as she watched her dad sit there with a tutu on and tears streaming down his face.

“I’ve tried to stay out of your mom’s way. She knows how to encourage you, she watches to make sure your friends are good to you and she knows everything about your boyfriends.” At this Sheila scoffs, “She’s a spy for the government, I just know it.”

“She could be. Heaven help us if either of us makes a mistake, your mom knows everything.” They both laughed and wiped tears from each other’s faces.

“Yep, mom makes no secret of it. Remember when she found out that Robert had another girlfriend and she confronted him before she told me? I thought Robert was going to run out of the store in tears. That woman is mean!”

Sheila’s dad threw his head back laughing, “She’s a mean one alright. Even your brothers have no chance against her. She’s the strongest person I know, man or woman.” They laughed again.

“You know you’re just like her?”

Sheila smiled shyly and looked at her dad, “I don’t feel strong dad. It hurts when you don’t come to my dances or don’t show up for at least the dress rehearsals.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know. You once told me that I would embarrass you and I took it to heart. I figured you just needed your mom.”

“I’m sorry too. I said that out of anger. You embarrassed me in front of my friends by making up silly steps. Like you thought it was all stupid.” She bent her head down and blushed at the memory.

“I was being stupid; I didn’t know how important it was to you.”

“It wasn’t that, it was the girls, they said you were stupid and… I’m ashamed to say I worried more about what they had to say.” She looked up at him, “I thought the moves were funny.” She couldn’t hold the smile back.

“The move where you tried to pliĆ© and then made a ripping noise like you split your pants was hysterical. I think even Michelle thought it was funny, she just couldn’t say so with the other girls around.”

“Wasn’t it your mom who finally convinced you to drop them and find better friends?”

“Yes and she was right. Both girls turned on Michelle and me. I’m so glad they aren’t a part of my life.”

“So if you can forgive your mom for telling you that your friends and boyfriends aren’t good enough for you, can you forgive your old man for his stupid comments and lack of involvement?” The look of desperation on his face broke any of the remaining misgivings she had. He really did love her just as much as the boys.

“I guess so. But could you come to at least one show? We have our final one this weekend. I’m not sure I’ll be going back next year since I’ll be leaving for college.”

At that Sheila’s dad cringed and turned a little white, “Going off to college? What happen to community college?”

“Dad! You know I want to go to college with Michelle. We’ve talked about it since our sophomore year.” She all but rolled her eyes.

“I know I just figured your mom had talked you out of it by now. I need more time with you. I want more time with you. It was just today I found out what a terrible dad I’ve been. I have some making up to do.” He tried to look pitiful, but just managed a silly look that made Sheila laugh.

“You’ve always been a great dad, I just didn’t know how good till today.” Tears filled her eyes again and Sheila leaned into her dad’s side. She waited for the bear hug she always loved to get from him.

“So are we okay?”

“Ya, we’re okay dad.”

“You know that I love you?”

“Yes, I know that you love me. Now can you get out of my tutu? He’ll be here any minute.”

“Well, I’d be happy to, but I think it might be too late.” Just then Sheila hears a car door slam.

“Oh dad, now what!?” She’s too embarrassed to look over her shoulder to see Matthew.

“I’ll take care of it.” He winks at her and begins to stand up.

“NO, don’t do that!” She whispers to him.

“Hello, you must be Matthew.” Sheila’s dad stands up proudly as if he’s in a suit and tie instead of a tutu.

“Um, yes sir.” Matthew tries not to stare and puts out his hand to receive his handshake.

“I’m Sheila’s dad. As you can tell she’s not ready. Seems I’ve gone and messed up her make up.” At that he turns to Sheila, “Go inside and clean up, I’ll entertain Matthew.”

Sheila jumps up and never looks at either man on the porch.

“Sit down Matthew.” Sheila’s dad points to a rocking chair across from the porch swing. As they both sit Matthew can see the purple underwear and tries his hardest not to laugh.

“So you like my daughter?”

“Yes sir I do.”

“What are your plans?”

“Well sir, she wants to see a movie and I know of a great restaurant in the next town.”

“No son, I’m not talking dinner and a movie. What are your plans with my daughter?”

The look on his face says he’s not looking for any BS answers and all the yes sirs and no sirs won’t cover up any mistakes he makes in his response.

“Um, well sir, I just want to have fun.”

“Fun? Describe fun to me.” He really wishes he didn’t have a tutu on and instead had a gun to clean right about now.

“Sir, I have 3 sisters and a dad that would rather lock them all up till they’re 30 before any of them ever goes out with a guy. And truth is I agree.” He smiles at this but sees no response from Sheila’s dad.

“Sir, I’ve my whole life in front of me and I’ve no intention of messing things up by doing something stupid now. So in all due respect sir, I like your daughter and I’d like to get to know her better, but I promise I won’t do something to ruin my chances with her or her family. Sir.” Sweat was building up on his top lip and Sheila’s dad couldn’t help but feel a little pity.

“So, what you’re saying is you like her, but not enough to mess up your football career? Is that it?”

“No sir. I meant I like her and would like to get to know her better. So I won’t go and mess things up by pushing myself on her. Sir.”

“Pushing yourself, you mean you won’t even TRY with her, right?”

“Um yes sir, that’s exactly what I meant.” Now sweat was forming on his forehead.

“Okay son, let’s make sure where on the same line here. You take her to the movies and out to dinner and you show her the same respect you would your own sisters and mother. Correct?”

“Yes sir!”

At that moment Sheila’s walks out with fresh make-up, her hair pulled up and a dress her dad had never seen before. It was like looking at a photograph of his wife 25 years ago.

He and Matthew stood up simultaneously, both in awe.

“Dad, what did you tell him?” She cocked her head to the side and gave him the same look her mother did when she questioned his actions.

“I um…”

“He just recommended a few restaurants we might like.” He winked at her dad and then smiled at Sheila and put his arm out.

“You look beautiful tonight. I think somewhere special is called for.”

Sheila’s dad stood taller and for a moment she almost forgot he was wearing her tutu.

“You okay dad?”

“I’m fine. Just had an image cross my mind of when I’ll be giving you away…” He stopped before he got emotional again.

“Never mind, you two have fun.”

“Sir, thanks for letting me take your daughter out.” At that Matthew gently placed Sheila’s hand in his left and reached out to shake his hand once more.

“I’ll take care of her the same way I would my own sisters.”

He couldn’t respond, too choked up. He shook his hand and opened the screen door. He shut it and began to close the heavy oak door when he overheard Matthew tell Sheila that his own dad would have sat on the porch with a gun instead of a tutu. Sheila’s dad laughed and then felt an arm around his waist.

“You knew this would happen.” He always loved to hear his wife’s voice, so calm and musical.

“I know, but I was hoping time wouldn’t move so fast.”

“She’s turned into a lovely lady and one who respects herself. She’ll be fine.” At that she looked up at him and kissed him on the cheek.

How on earth was he allowed two perfect women in his life?

“I know, but it’s still scary. You know he doesn’t deserve her.”

“No he doesn’t.” She quietly said.

“But then you don’t deserve me either.” She kissed him again and walked back to the kitchen.

God he loved this woman. He locked the door and followed her.

“You think we’re too old to make more babies?” He looks at her slyly and winked.

“I’m not too old dear, but if you continue to strut around in a tutu it’ll make it much harder for me to want to.” She winked and ran up the stairs like she did the day they got married.

God he was indeed a lucky man!

2 comments:

  1. Wish I could write as well as you! xoxo

    I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Liebster Blog Award, but it’s a great way for bloggers to recognize and encourage each other. It’s a compliment, blogger style. I recently received the award and, because I follow and enjoy your writing, am bestowing it on you. Read my post here then write you own and link back to me. I hope you’ll enjoy paying it forward as much as I have. Happy blogging.

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  2. Just wanted to let you know that I loved this. Sweet and funny and just a touch of sadness, it's perfect.

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Thanks for takin' the time to read my stuff. :)