Saturday, June 8, 2013

Dads at Dance Recitals: What's the Score?

There's always been this image of an attention-short dad attending his daughter's dance recital, devising clever ways to surreptitiously get "the score of the game," which was almost always football, while his wife looked on in equal parts horror, shock, and extreme annoyance. (Like she just met her husband yesterday.) In the old days, you'd see a dad try to sneak in a walkman and listen to the game on headphones or try to sneak in an entire 13" TV in his back pocket then pretend to go to the bathroom every 5 minutes and sneak a look at the game.  Whether it was in commercials or funny TV shows --back when TV was funny or, stated another way, when I was 10-- the man was portrayed as a buffoon who couldn't sit still long enough to get through the recital without needing a football fix (and in a few circumstances, leapt up and cheered for the football team in the middle of the auditorium at precisely the appropriate point in the recital. God Bless the sense of timing those funny TV shows had.)  And the recital itself was portrayed as some slow-footed, backward, tedious affair, where all the participants are 4 years old and holding themselves and crying.

Being somewhat of a football junkie from a young age, I often wondered how I would act when confronted with the same situation. I was pretty certain I'd marry someone who would act horrified and scold me for trying anything. But I also thought at that time I could just tape the game if I had to...until remembering how our VCR never, ever worked, and anything viewed on it was accompanied by two broad, distinct bands of static on the screen at any point in time.

Luckily, my daughter's dance school has taken all the worry out of it by scheduling their recital for June, one of the worst sports months on the calendar. This means I'd miss part of an NBA playoff game (meh), part of an NHL playoff game (which I could TiVo if I wanted and deal with the related inconveniences), or miss a baseball game. Missing baseball games is like forgetting to brush your teeth at night, you can get away with it for a night or two, and if you keep forgetting and it becomes problematic, someone will be there to fill in the holes later.

Which isn't to say I haven't been presented with challenges. My daughter's first violin recital occurred during Week 9 of the 2012 football season. That doesn't sound like much, but when you get addicted to Fantasy Football like I have been, you really want to know what's happening to every single player every single week. So I had scoring updates sent directly to my phone, which I stuck between my legs and leaned forward slightly to view when I felt, uhhh... something. My wife wasn't thrilled, but it was discreet. So discreet that my own mother, seated immediately to my left, either didn't notice or wasn't bothered by it.

Eventually, after my girl perfromed her 52-second rendition of Hot Cross Buns, and the recital stretched into its third hour, and some parents and kids had already left, I felt I had earned a little more slack by sticking it out this far. I started checking the individual games for some additional stats by leaning a little further forward and pretending to drop items that only our forefathers actually carried on them, like handkerchiefs and pocket knives.

All in all, it worked. It was still buffoonery, but it was tasteful buffoonery.

Which brings us to our daughter's third career dance recital today. Free from needing to check on sports updates, I felt I could just sit back and enjoy the show -- until I learned that my daughter would be dancing to "Fly" by Sugar Ray. Last year, when the theme was the Wizard of Oz, and my daughter was one of several dancing (perhaps a murder of?) scarecrows, I could easily fake my way into her heart by gushing, "Oh, the scarecrow was ALWAYS my FAV-OR-ITE character! And you were the best scarecrow up there! Even better than Ray Bolger!" and she'd be happy, then confused, and then we'd go get ice cream.

I'm having a rougher time drumming up phony enthusiasm this year. Every time I think I'm ready, I find myself facing her, putting my hands on her shoulders, blinking for an entire second, swallowing hard, looking off to my right, shaking my head, and muttering in a low voice, "Look, I f___ing hated Sugar Ray. They had one good, honest, kick-ass song, whose name I can't remember and which I only heard once on the radio, and then, when it became more profitable in the late '90s, they turned their back on making good music and joined the Hootie-led "laid-back" revolution and made a bunch of songs suitable only for listening drunk in a canoe and floating in circles for 14 hours straight. Every time I saw Mark McGrath on TV, I wanted to flip him off. One of the 10 greatest days in my life was when, as if all at once, evey chick on the planet suddenly decided they'd had enough of those no-talent jerkwads and stopped listening to them. Break a leg!"

That probably wouldn't go over well with anyone here, so I've just pretended to have never heard of Sugar Ray (which is for the better anyway) by claiming to have been too old to be familiar with them in the first place. That's always a safe play.

The theme this year, by the way, is something to the effect of Popular Music Throught the Years, which starts with whatever came before Bill Haley and the Comets (Glenn Miller? Big Band music? I don't know, I'm asking...) up through goodness-knows-who representing today, with dollar signs replacing all the S's in their names.

And to think they've sullied the time devoted to the 1990s with Sugar Ray, when they easily could have played Sabotage by the Beastie Boys. Surely my girl could have danced to that?

No comments:

Post a Comment