Sunday, June 19, 2011

But I digress, Dad

On Father's Day, I'm thinking of my battle with my father over cosmetics. My love of them started early, around 12 or 13. Despite my parents never fighting me over wearing them, the bigger battle was the expense: My father didn't understand anyone spending money on makeup. He didn't even refer to it as "makeup": It was something like "that crap on your dresser."

My fashion and beauty magazines angered him even more: At one point he said the pile was so high that it could be a fire hazard if stacked.

As the king of frugality, spending money on something non-essential was a travesty. He grew up with a Depression-era mindset, and it's never left him. One moment seared in my then-teenage brain is when he tried to teach me that soap can double as a shampoo. We didn't use store-bought soap: We used this generic item my parents bought in bulk called Caleo. It was essentially probably recycled soap residue from other brands. I remember slack-jawed watching him explain how he takes a shower, including a traumatizing demonstration of rubbing soap all over his head.

His military background never left him, either: He tried to implement the five-minute shower on my sister and I as teens. Even in the fanciest restaurants, he ate his meals like he was in a mess hall and expected us to do the same. To this day, he still has to sit with his back against the wall in case "the enemy" tries to attack. No one dares tell him we're in the Olive Garden.

Now that I'm an adult, he doesn't ask how much about my cosmetic expenses. He had the wisdom to know when to let go. He spent about 20 years trying to convince me to avoid them completely. Now he's acquiesced. About 10 years ago, we were talking, and I asked him for advice on a moral dilemma. He looked at me and said, "I can't tell you what to do. I've taught you everything I know to equip you for this world. Now you have to make your own decisions."

Thank you, Dad - both for teaching me everything you know, and for trusting that I would know what to do. As far as makeup goes, you lost the battle. As far as being a father goes, you won the war.


My father, circa late 1960s.

2 comments:

  1. Great post Erica! I think all father's lose the makeup battle.
    Happy Father's Day to your dad!

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  2. Thank you, Wendy! Do dads ever win that battle? :)Happy Father's Day to your dad, as well.

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