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Copyright Andy Martello, All Rights Reserved

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Dating Your Daughter Revisited

In the last couple of weeks I have performed at both "Daddy/Daughter" and "Mother/Son" dances. Even though these things creep me out a little bit, I am happy to have the work and I do have fun performing at them.

Having just completed a Daddy/Daughter event I thought I'd reprint one of my columns, "Date Your Daughter! It's All the Rage!". If for some reason you don't want to read it here, you can read it in the archives of e-pauly, Malicious Bitch, and The Cheers. Enjoy!

"Date Your Daughter! It's All the Rage!"
By Andy Martello
© Andy Martello, All Rights Reserved

There are "seasons" in the entertainment field just like any other business. I can expect certain bookings to fall at certain times.

I know that the early months in the year have many trade shows and school functions. February and March are ripe with Cub Scout Blue & Gold Dinners as well as one type of gig that seems to be found only in the suburbs of major metropolitan areas. These are the 'Daddy/Daughter' Dances.

Let me say right now that while I have NEVER seen anything untoward happen at any of them, these events always seem a bit "creepy" to me.

For those unfamiliar, let me explain the concept. 'Daddy/Daughter' Dances, often sponsored by local park districts, are formal dances where young girls aged from 4 to about 12 are escorted by their fathers for a magical evening of fun & frolic. They are not unlike proms or other formal occasions. A dinner is served and there are corsages, a D.J., mood lighting, pretty dresses, and men in nice suits.

The entire evening is dedicated to forging that special bond between a daddy and his daughter by encouraging a daughter to "date" her father! O.K. I may be exaggerating the point, but therein lies the reason these events are so creepy to me.

I completely understand the simple and innocent ideas behind events like these. There is a limited amount of time in a young girl's life when she really loves her dad and thinks of him as the ultimate hero of a man. That precious little bit of time between a girl being daddy's princess and being daddy's nemesis should be cherished by all. What I don't get is why there has to be a formal dance and all the accoutrements to promote this relationship.

Isn't there enough time for a young girl to develop social dating behavior? At such an early age, do we have to start these girls on the quest for the perfect dress and subject them to the catty judgment from other girls if the dress is "off the rack"? Should we be giving these girls the primer for dating before they've even begun to like boys? More importantly, should we be encouraging these girls to date their own fathers? I mean honestly, a few southern states in the U.S. aside, this seems wrong on so many levels!

I wonder: Are there moments where the dads covet the other daughters, wishing they had a better date? Or worse: Are there guys who show up all dejected because they couldn't get a date for the 'Daddy/Daughter' Dance? Are there daughters that ask other people's fathers to the thing? EEEWWWWWW! Creepy! Wrong!! BAD!!!!

I digress.

As I've said, nothing unusual or dirty ever happens at these things and they are often very successful events. Still I have to wonder why there is such a need for these gatherings in the first place. Have parents become so bad at expressing love for their kids that we need to set up kiddie proms?

As a boy, I remember all the special moments with both my parents. I remember playing catch or fishing with my dad and watching my mother sew new lettering on my basketball uniform after a washing turned everything a decidedly un-macho shade of pink. Things like this are what reinforced the bond between child and parent for me. I knew my folks loved me and I didn't need to go on a special date with my mom to figure it all out.

Speaking of dating your mom, don't think that the mothers are exempt form these bizarre rituals. I've worked my fair share of 'Mommy/Son' Dances and those are JUST as disturbing!

The boys in attendance are often on the younger side, but in general the idea is the same. A boy must date his mother and then suffer years of abuse and "mamma's boy" taunts from future girlfriends. I work these events and wonder how Kevin Spacey could bear the sarcasm after taking his mom to the Oscars.

Even though these events are similar in nature there are some CLEAR differences.

At the 'Daddy/Daughter' Dances, the fathers are really into the whole evening. These guys put on their best suits, buy boutonnières and corsages, walk hand-in-hand with their girl, and show them a magical evening. For the dads and the daughters, the event, while creepy, achieves the goal of making a special event.

At 'Mommy/Son' Dances, the mothers, at least the vast majority of them, couldn't care any less about the whole thing. They make the sons get all dressed up but show up in house clothes & yoga pants themselves. There is very little actual dancing with their sons and not much interaction at all. Most of the time, I see the mothers grab their food and retire to the back of the room with the other mothers, telling their sons to "go play with your friends."

Every now and again you'll see a boy GET UP THE NERVE to ask his mother to dance and sometimes the mother agrees to a dance, crushing the little boy‘s heart when she hasn‘t the time to dance with her son. SOMETIMES! How awful is this, teaching a boy early on that women and the rejection they may bestow upon you are to be feared at all costs? The whole thing is just wrong, wrong, WRONG!

I am always happy to work these dances and I have some great audiences at these events. However, I see a much different side of these things than most people. I see the differences in parenting styles, the contrast between how boys and girls are treated, and the fact that there are a lot of parents with no ideas on how to show proper affection towards their kids.

I talk about these issues with the folks that book me for the dances, and they often agree with me. 'Daddy/Daughter' Dances and their counterparts are inherently odd. Yet, they are among the most popular and most requested events at any park district. Nobody knows who had the idea for the first one, and nobody knows why they are so well attended.

Maybe I'm just missing the point entirely. Perhaps I'm reading too much into these things. Is it possible that the only truly offensive thing is that we live in a world where something as sweet in intent as a day where dads take their daughters out for dinner and dancing should seem so wrong? I just wish they wouldn't schedule so many of these things during Valentine's Day week.


Blogger sue said...

I agree. Creepy. Not really a good thing to encourage. *shivers*

8:00 AM


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