Dance like your dad’s not watching

Published 12:37 pm Saturday, June 9, 2018

by Jase Graves

Although some men long to have a son to carry on their family name (and their male-pattern baldness), I’ve always felt lucky to have three daughters.

Having girls is more interesting for me since I’ve been doing the whole boy thing for almost fifty years — and not all that well. Also, when the girls were very young, my patriarchal, narrow-minded, predisposed, non-pc, androcentric (I got that one from the thesaurus) expectations told me that, with daughters, I might be able to avoid spending every Saturday for a decade watching my children play sports.

I know it seems un-American, but even when I played little-league baseball, the only enjoyment I ever got out of it was visiting the concession stand for Pop Rocks, grape Shasta, and some artificial cheese-product nachos after the game. It also didn’t hurt that there was usually a cute, older teenage girl working the stand who I hoped was into slightly chubby younger guys with chili bowl haircuts and glasses thick enough to double as a binocular telescope.

I’m sure you’re ahead of me by now, but I soon realized that even if I managed to avoid branding my cheeks with hot metal bleacher imprints at a ballpark every Saturday afternoon, there are a plethora of other equally-excruciating spectator events lying in wait for unsuspecting dads of girl children.

One of these ordeals I experienced recently was a day-long dance recital. Our family attended because my eldest and most expensive daughter participates in every possible activity that requires me to watch a procession of other people’s children perform for hours on end while I wait to see her finally do her thing for three whole minutes.

What I first noticed about the recital (other than the lack of a concession stand) was the staggering amount of sequins. Now, don’t get me wrong. I like sequins as much as the next adult male who isn’t a figure skater. I fondly remember many a grade-school craft project that involved gluing sequins onto paper plates, cotton balls, toilet paper tubes and other household goods sacrificed in the name of art.  But I’ve never witnessed a Mt. Kilauea of sequins like I saw at this dance recital. Every dancer seemed to have dipped herself in Karo syrup and performed a swan dive into an enormous vat of sequins. And judging by the cost of the two costumes we purchased, these sequins may have once adorned a garment worn by Cleopatra herself — or a Kardashian.

Once my retinas had adjusted to this sequin throat punch and I’d used my iPhone to invest in the international sequin cartel, I soon became distracted by my fellow spectators. Based on their audience etiquette, many of them had never attended a public performance of any kind, unless you count watching domestic disputes in the Walmart parking lot.

Several audience members felt compelled to screech out the names and nicknames of every performer they knew before, during and after each dance. (I think I heard “Go, Nay-nay!!!” at least 50 times — and not for the same person.)

Then there were the babies and toddlers doing what babies and toddlers do when you take them to a two-hour event featuring lots of earsplitting techno music and flashing lights. That’s right, Sherlock as played by Benedict Cumberbatch, they don’t sleep, and thanks to them, neither could I.

Finally, the pre-teens seated behind us spent the show debating, at full volume, which Disney Princesses the dancers were depicting on stage at any given moment while kicking the back of my seat.  (After the show, I located my spleen several rows up.)

Despite all of these minor irritations, I beamed with pride when my own be-sequined daughter took the stage and danced her heart out.  When she came out to the lobby after the recital, I spread my arms to catch my little dancer in a warm fatherly embrace.  nstead, she handed me a bundle of hangers, garment bags and costumes, and ran off to take Instagram photos with friends.

Oh, well, I know she loves and appreciates me, and at least she isn’t playing baseball. But I do miss the nachos.

JASE GRAVES is an award-winning humor columnist from East Texas. His columns have been featured in Texas Escapes magazine, The Shreveport Times, The Longview News Journal and The Kilgore News Herald. Contact Graves at