Is Your Dad Embarrassing?

Yesterday I read a story about a man who dressed in a different costume every morning, stood in front of his house, and waved to his teenage son going off to school.  The man did this for all 180 days of the school year.

It reminded me of the times my own father wore a costume.  He stopped trick-or-treating for Halloween in his 30s, so I only remember him wearing a costume for Purim, a Jewish festival that commemorates the triumph of the Jews over a Persian named Haman, who had tried to annihilate them with cookies filled with apricot preserves.  It is the one holiday where Jews are commanded to drink in addition to sitting through a long reading from a scroll of parchment.  And it is traditional to dress up as characters from the Purim story: the beautiful Esther, the resourceful Mordechai, the kind King Ahasuerus.  My father dressed up as Pinocchio.

My father’s Purim costume, minus the cricket

He wore a green Tyrolean hat with a feather sticking out, a white button-down short-sleeved shirt, lederhosen that buttoned up the sides, red suspenders, and a long fake nose.  He wore this when we walked in and saw my Hebrew school classmates and their parents; he wore this during the Rabbi’s reading of the Purim story, enthusiastically shaking his noisemaker each time “Haman” was mentioned (as is the tradition…among children); he wore this as he served cake and ice cream to the congregants after the service, saying to each one, “When I’m a real boy I want a Bar Mitzvah with a DJ!”

I’ve often said that males over the age of 10 should not be allowed to wear shorts that end above the knee.  My father does not sign on my theory.  He wore his Pinocchio costume proudly, frequently swinging his arms and kicking up his legs as if controlled by strings, and seemed unmolested by thoughts of the social consequences to his teenage son.

“Hey, that’s a pretty cool costume your dad has on there,” said a friend.

“What costume?  Whose dad?” I said.  My friend pointed towards my father while I dove behind a stack of prayer books.  I stayed there until I heard the sounds of people leaving and car doors slamming.  Soon I heard people calling my name, and I emerged.

“Oh, there you are,” my mother said.  “Where were you?”

“I was looking for my self-esteem,” I said. “It had rolled under a table.”

As we walked outside to our car, I hoped to see my father already behind the wheel, sunk down low in the seat like the drivers in Florida.  But he wasn’t.  He was standing in front of the synagogue, still in full costume, waving to the congregants as they got in their cars and drove away.  He looked so happy.  And as I looked to the congregants, I noticed that they looked happy, too.

Perhaps I was wrong to be embarrassed.  The following year, I picked up a top hat, umbrella, and grasshopper costume, and father and son rejoiced together.  And then waved to everyone.

Do you have any embarrassing dad stories?  Share them here so I can pretend they’re mine and turn them into blog posts!

10 thoughts on “Is Your Dad Embarrassing?

  1. I love this so much. Is it just a Jewish thing to be horrified by our parents? My friends seem to get on so well with their parents. I’m positive that everyone enjoys my mother’s antics more than I do. She is also known for wearing her jammies in public. So embarrassing! She and your dad would get on famously.

    Oh, and I would be remiss if I did not point out the other Jewish holiday that requires massive amounts of drinking to celebrate our escape from near annhilliation: Passover. Four cups, man. Four cups.

  2. How’d I know you and Renee would get along. I hope your father at least offered you the gift of plausible deniability so your denials were more effective.

  3. So much wisdom: “I’ve often said that males over the age of 10 should not be allowed to wear shorts that end above the knee.”

    So much humour: “I was looking for my self-esteem,” I said. “It had rolled under a table.”

    Loved this.

  4. I wonder if this dad never attended high school. It seemed he and his son viewed the situation completely differently. The dad thought he was being funny, and the son was horrified. It’s not fun to be teased and beat up by other kids because your dad wants to be clever.

    1. You know that’s what I thought at first, too. But the article says that Rain – that was the son’s name, Rain – changed his perspective as the year progressed: “While Rain told a local newspaper it was an embarrassing start to his high school career, both he and his fellow students learned to appreciate the effort.” Or maybe he just said that because he’s about to become an Eagle Scout.

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